Herrick asserts, “While Psalm 16:8-11 does not deny an afterlife by any means, it simply does not explicitly affirm one either” (7). Instead, “The main focus in the psalm is on life with God and life apart from God, not with life and death” (Herrick 8). If Herrick is correct, this would mean the focus is relational—David and God. Yet, Peter, as recorded by Luke, quoted Psalm 16:8-11 as a source text—a messianic psalm—for Christ’s death and resurrection.
Deffinbaugh lists and explains four characteristics of the messianic psalms. First, “Most of the messianic psalms are written by David” (Deffinbaugh sec. 3). Since Jesus came from the line of David, it is reasonable David would be the author of the messianic psalms. Second, the Jewish population did not understand the psalms called “messianic psalms” as intended to foretell the future until after Christ rose from the grave. Third, “Most of the messianic psalms speak both of David’s experience and of the Messiah’s experiences at the same time” (sec. 3). David wrote with one idea in his mind, but God had an entirely different event in His mind out of the same words. Fourth, Jesus understood the messianic psalms as prophecy, living and speaking in accordance with them (sec. 3).
Deffinbaugh continues to explain, led by the Spirit and the input from his sources, Luke understood Psalm 16 as a messianic psalm, using it to make his point about Christ’s death and resurrection—only Christ could have fulfilled this prophecy. The resurrection proved that Christ is alive—eternally alive—and the only one who can have an eternal kingdom. Given Christ as God’s Son, “God would not abandon His Son; He would not allow His flesh to undergo decay in the grave” (Deffinbaugh sec. 5). Once the New Testament believers realized Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the messianic psalms, they often used the messianic psalms in their messages (sec. 5). “The New Testament quotes the Psalms directly at least ninety-six times with perhaps two-hundred more clear allusions” (Baylis 245).