God in the Psalms No.24
Psa 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
There are probably many times when we read Scripture but just don’t take in what it means. What does he is at my right hand mean? Perhaps we’d better look, first of all, at general references to the right hand:
Gen 48:14 “But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger.” Israel put his right hand to make a special blessing. The right hand was seen as the hand of authority. Joseph saw what his father was doing and recognized its significance.
Ex 15:6 “Your right hand, O LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy.” Israel saw God’s destruction of Pharaoh as an act of His right hand. It is seen as the hand of power. See similarly Psa 17:7, 20:6, 21:8 etc.
Ex 29:20 “Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands”. The right side was the side designated hold, to be cleansed. The right hand was to be holy.
Psa 110:1 “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand” Jesus is seated at God’s right hand in heaven. It is the place of intimacy with the Father and a place of rule. This intimacy is seen also in Psa 73:23, “Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.” Have you seen pictures of little children holding the hand of their parent? There is a safety and security and intimacy there.
It is this last reference that perhaps impinges most on our verse from Psalm 16. It is first a sense of safety, closeness or intimacy. He first says, I have set the LORD always before me, which is an act of will on David’s part, a determination of attitude. It’s like that which Paul says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2). For David, his heart is open to the Lord at all times (v.7), he seeks to have a God-awareness or, if you like, a God-consciousness, at all times.
When he knows the Lord’s presence is with him, he knows that God’s authority, power and rule are there, working on his behalf. Because of this he will not be shaken, and he will rest secure (v.9). Because of this he knows that the Lord will not let death come prematurely (v.10). When he knows the presence of the Lord, he knows there will also be joy (v.11), because the Lord isn’t just there, He’s there to bless. That’s what David means when he speaks of the Lord who has “eternal pleasures at your right hand” (v.11). God’s right hand is also a hand of provision.
Do you see the two sided aspect of this? We have been considering all these pictures conveying all these things at God’s right hand, but David is referring in our verse above to his own right hand. He has an awareness that in all these aspects, God is there close to Him. When it comes to his own authority and power, his own safety and security, his own provision, they all exist because of the intimacy that He knows – the closeness of the Lord to Him. He purposes to ensure this: I have set the LORD always before me. He puts the awareness of the Lord in the foreground of his life, to ensure that he is always conscious of the Lord’s presence. Yet, to give the whole picture, his psalms indicate the reality of life – sometimes we lose that sense of God’s presence and have to step aside, be quiet, wait on Him, until we regain it. He is what he is, because God’s there, close!