Did Old Testament believers understand the promise of eternal life?
“I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:7-11).
Psalm 16 is a Psalm of King David. He boldly professes his confidence that the Almighty God was with him. His faith and trust in God’s promises brought him joy and confidence. In fact, he clearly shares his confidence that even after death the Lord would not abandon him. After death, God would not forget about him but bring about a promise to continue to show love and concern for David. David would have eternal life.
So, did David believe that his body would not decay in the grave? The New Testament helps us with this and helps us understand what David’s words mean. Saint Peter’s Pentecost Day sermon (see Acts 2) helps us to understand David’s words. Peter explains that David’s body decayed in the grave, but not the Savior’s. Peter tells us that King David was sharing a remarkable prophecy with all believers. Though the coming Messiah would die to pay for our sins and be buried, his body would not decay in the grave.
Indeed, the Son of God suffered and died to pay for the sins of the world. His body was buried, but during the hours in the grave, his body did not decay. Jesus arose on Easter Sunday with a glorified body. He had defeated Satan and death. Jesus’ resurrection means that all believers, including Old Testament David, have a promise of victory over death. Through faith in Jesus, we have a promise of eternal life in heaven.
David trusted in his eternal victory. He proclaimed, “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” David, although he would die and his earthly body would decay, knew and believed in the gift of eternal life.
As God’s redeemed children, we can be confident of eternal life as well. Through faith in the Messiah, all of us have eternal life in God’s presence.