Pleasant Places Aren’t Places at All


David writes in Psalm 16:6, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Like David, I reflect on the goodness of God in my life and can see much evidence of His gracious providence.

After growing up in a Christian home with two parents who loved me and took me to church regularly, I was converted and sensed the call to preach at the age of fifteen. From that point forward, the trajectory of my life was toward Christian ministry. I was thrilled for every opportunity to preach, no matter to whom and no matter where. To study God’s blessed Book and seek to instruct and exhort God’s people from it was such a joy! (Looking back on those sermons, the patience of God’s people to endure them was another gift of grace that I was unaware of at the time!) 

After college, my wife and I went to seminary, where we met believers who would become lifelong friends and partners in gospel ministry. Then God allowed us to serve two wonderful, loving churches. After serving for eight years, we began to sense God leading us back to seminary to pursue a doctorate. I was very naive about applying for the doctoral program, the requirements needed, and the competitive nature of the program. Still, God opened doors for me to be accepted and begin the program. 

My faculty advisor was gracious and guiding, helping me through every step of the process from seminars to comps to prospectus to dissertation to defense. Since then, I have been able to teach adjunctly—with great joy and satisfaction—as well as to continue to serve God’s kingdom through Christian education, using both my pastoral and educational experience in my current role as Spiritual Life Director at a K–12 Christian school.

However, while all these things are wonderfully true, I don’t think that is primarily what David means by “pleasant places” in Psalm 16. After all, life is full of sorrow and difficulty for all of us—you, me, and David alike. Alongside the list of God’s favors, I could also add difficulties such as the unexpected premature death of my father, the frustrations of repeatedly applying and being turned down for teaching positions, struggles with infertility, difficult seasons of marriage, and on and on. So what did David mean? 

While David could have similarly listed instances of pleasant circumstances in his life graciously bestowed from the hand of a benevolent God, he didn’t do that here. Instead, this psalm is about his trust in Yahweh. His “refuge” (v. 1), his “good” (v. 2), his gladness and security (v. 9) were not found in these “pleasant places,” but in God Himself. In fact, pleasant places aren’t really places at all, but they are instead every circumstance—easy or hard—where our satisfaction is in God alone. “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” 

Just as Yahweh Himself was the Levites’ allotted portion in Numbers 18, David claimed that same priestly privilege. The Lord was his cup, lot, portion, and inheritance. His hope wasn’t in sufficient provisions but in a sufficient Provider; it wasn’t in pleasant circumstances but in an ever-present Sustainer. When our hope is there, the lines are always in pleasant places even when the circumstances are less than pleasant. Let us, with David, when choosing what we will be content with, what we need for our security and happiness, look to Yahweh and say, “You satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Ps. 146:16). 

Jason A. Mackey
Adjunct Instructor, Memphis Extension


Prayer Requests:

  • Pray that we as students and staff would treasure Christ more and more, both in easy and difficult circumstances.
  • Pray that the group of spring graduates launching into life and ministry would continue to seek the Lord in all they do.
  • Pray for the incoming summer students as they begin their course of study, especially at the extension sites.
  • Pray for those planning and who will attend Godward Life.
  • Pray for the full funding of Serious Joy Scholarships before the fiscal year-end June 30.