A Goodly Heritage: my response to psalm 16

Continuing my series of poetic responses to the psalms, we come to psalm 16. A favourite with many people, it comes as a sweet relief, a kind oasis after the tension and struggles of psalms 9-14, and the moral challenge of 15. Here we come to a sheer recognition of our blessings and a thanksgiving for them:

The Lord himself is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup: thou shalt maintain my lot. The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground: yea, I have a goodly heritage.

and then of course the beautiful promise in the final verse:

Thou shalt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is the fulness of joy: and at thy right hand there is pleasure for evermore

My response here picks up on that hope in our true heritage, especially as so many of the frail and unstable goods in which we use to put our trust have been withdrawn or are collapsing around us.

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the play button or the title and you can find the other poems in this evolving series by putting the word ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.

XVI Conserva me, Domine

Then help me, step by step, my guide and friend.

Preserve me O my God in whom I trust.

My other goods are nothing in the end,


How quickly they decay, how swiftly rust,

But through it all you stay and comfort me,

My one abiding joy, when all the rest


Have flown so suddenly. For now I see

My true inheritance, now I look up

And find you still beside me, showing me


The path of life. In your right hand the cup

Of blessings full to overflowing, your

Left hand upholds me still, gives me hope.


I have a goodly heritage! You pour

On me your graces, undeserved, you raise

And comfort me until I fall no more.


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Filed under imagination, Poems

6 responses to “A Goodly Heritage: my response to psalm 16

  1. Anne Holmes

    Dear Malcolm Guite, Please note that my e-mail address has changed to anne@ac-holmes.co.uk The old ‘demon’ address will expire in a few days’ time. Best wishes, Anne Holmes

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

    • malcolmguite

      Dear Anne I’m not able to enter the new email for you but all you have to do is to enter it into the email subscription box on the right hand part of this blog – thanks Malcolm

  2. Rev'd Amanda Goulding

    I recall admitting to the poet priest David Scott that I struggled with the psalms – they never seemed to express my feelings, He suggested I should persevere, in that gentle way of his, and so I did. Some months later I had a medical crisis and found the psalmists said exactly what i was feeling. Ps 16 became a favourite around the time of a bereavement when it seemed to be helping give thanks for all the good things in my ‘heritage’ and offer hope and consolation – just as your own poem does. Thank you Malcolm.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Amanda David Scott was my school chaplain and remained a friend- an important person in my life – glad to know he helped you too

  3. Alice Hornbeck

    I enjoyed the image of God holding a cup of blessings in one hand and holding you up to hope with the other. God follows me in my wanderings, moments, and I seem to hope always.

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