Preached by Dr. Gene Scott on March 29, 1981
I have set the Lord always before me: because
he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
TODAY WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT THREE PSALMS: Psalm 10, Psalm 16 and Psalm 30. We have taught on this subject before, but I need this message today, and God does not lead a preacher to preach on a subject unless some of you need it too. The Psalms, more than any other section of God’s book, come out of life as ordinary people lived it, and the lessons of the Psalms enable us to apply the ways of God to where we live.
First turn to Psalm 10:6, and underline these words: “I shall not be moved.” That phrase may sound familiar to some Christians because it is the title of a popular old-time camp meeting song, but that song was not based on this particular psalm. Now turn to Psalm 30:6, and underline these words: “I shall never be moved.” And finally turn to Psalm 16:8, and underline the last five words of that verse: “I shall not be moved.” Probably no other message will better demonstrate the point that the apostle Peter made when he said, “No prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” If you were to take these three passages from the Psalms and lift them out of their context, they might sound good, but you would not have learned a thing about God’s word. The context makes all the difference.
We often close our messages with a declaration of faith, where we put the future in the past tense and we say, “We made it through the coming year.” That is just another way of saying, “I shall not be moved.” But merely saying those words does not make it true. Let me show you why.
Let’s read from the beginning of Psalm 10: “Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?” Have you ever felt that God was hiding Himself from you in a time of trouble? And when you look at people who you know are not doing things God’s way, or what is worse, are doing things against God’s way, do you ever feel like this psalmist? “The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth.”
I have even seen this in church circles. I have been to gatherings where motivational speakers were paraded before the congregation to give their “testimonies” of how God prospered them with material blessings. Each speaker would boast of how wonderful life was for them since they started giving to God. And I could just feel the response of the covetous ones in the congregation who listened to that garbage and said, “Wow, I’d serve God too if that would happen to me.”
The wicked “blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages,” waiting to pounce, “in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor: he doth catch the poor, when he draweth him into his net. He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones. He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it.”
The New Testament says that all Scripture is written for our example and for our instruction. This psalm applies to many people, though I hope it does not apply to many who are listening to this message today. But if a few have been pulled off the track by the devil, I hope they will recognize that they have been listening to the rationalizations within their own spirit, and learn from it. The simple message of Psalm 10:6 is found in these words: “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved.” Notice where he said it. What is the source of his thoughts? “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved.” It is a warning of what that arrogant nature will do when it starts to rise to its full stature.
You have heard me say many times that faith is 90 percent courage, 9 percent endurance, and 1 percent all those other things you may have heard about faith. But 100 percent of faith’s target or object must be God and His word. That is the contrast between our message and the message of those who teach positive thinking, which is having faith in faith itself. I know I am coming against a popular message. I don’t know why God’s word always positions me in the realm of controversy, but how can you preach the truth and combat error without letting the difference be seen? The sword of God’s word penetrates!
I have no quarrel with positive thinking per so, if the source of your positiveness is rightly placed. I have no quarrel with possibility thinking, if the source of your possibilities is rightly placed. I certainly have no quarrel with faith – that is what I am trying to generate through God’s word – if the object of your faith is properly focused. But “faith in faith” will take you all the way to hell! Faith in faith is exactly what is illustrated in Psalm 10:6. It is a mindset of someone who says, “I have decided I am not going to let any circumstances bother me. I am not going to look on anything negatively. I have made up my mind: I shall not be moved.” It is self-generated faith and self-dependent faith, because I have decided it. It sounds good, doesn’t it? It attracts admiration. If you were to lift those words out of their context that reveals the evil in man’s heart, you might even make a hero out of the man who declares, “I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.”
I am even going to tell you that faith in faith will work – for a while. It may even work for your whole life. But it will not take you to heaven or get God’s favor, because God is looking for people who have faith in Him. You can live a life of 90 percent courage and 9 percent endurance, but if it is focused on the wrong place, it still misses the mark. I am not in the business of preaching sheer faith and neither is God. In fact, God does not even call that faith. He will not even give it the name faith unless it is focused on Him. Faith in faith is not faith in God and it will not win God’s victories. That kind of faith has a problem: its origin is corrupt. Paul says we are “corrupt according to deceiving desires.” The Bible’s conclusion is that the heart of man is deceitful and wicked. It will not do you any good, eternally, to just have faith. The object of your faith must be God and His word.
The psalmist calls upon God to judge that wicked man, saying, “Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble. Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God? He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it. Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless. Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none. The LORD is King forever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land. LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: to judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.”
I could preach on the book of Revelation and say that this psalm in type points to the declarations of Antichrist. We know the end of the book: God is going to have the last word. You are not on solid ground if you think that the key is just looking up from your adversity and saying, “I shall not be moved.” Positive thinking will not save you in the day of trouble. It is not enough to just have courage and endurance.
Let’s go on to the next psalm in our study, Psalm 30. My Bible says it was sung “at the dedication of the house of David.” Some Hebrew scholars also associate this psalm with the Feat of Purim and the story of Esther, when God’s people were in bondage in a strange lad. Esther, raised by Mordecai, was chosen out of all the maidens in the land to be the queen after the heathen king put aside his first wife because she didn’t jump when he said, “Jump.” The king hired a bureaucrat named Haman, and Haman reveled in the salutes, the bootlicking and the bowing that everyone gave to him at the king’s gate. But Haman was livid that Mordecai, a humble Jewish man, would not bow down before him. The king’s servants began to prevail daily upon Mordecai to try to make him bow down.
The Jews had attained a status of prosperity, but in a stroke, one action by one man of God resulted in trouble for everyone. Haman became so angry that Mordecai would not bow to him that he persuaded the king to issue an edict that would expropriate the property of all the Jews in the land. Haman’s edict turned loose the equivalent of bounty hunters who would be rewarded for hunting down the Jews and destroying them, and Haman set a deadline for the plan to be executed on a specific day.
Haman would even have a gallows built seventy-five feet high to hang Mordecai on. If you offend a bureaucrat’s pride, he has to show you off as a spectacle. Mordecai would have been just as dead at seven feet, but Haman was going to hang him from seventy-five feet high to show off his power. As the deadline approached, Mordecai put on sackcloth and wept, not for himself, but for his people who were going to be destroyed. Esther heard of his weeping and she sent Mordecai a message to find out what was wrong. He informed her of the edict and told her to intercede with the king. She was living in comfort and prosperity; she seemed to be sitting pretty. But Mordecai said to her, “Don’t think for a moment that this calamity won’t reach you, as it is reaching your people. And who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such an hour as this?”
Esther faced herself and courageously decided at risk of her life to intercede with the king. She prevailed, and God’s people were saved at the last moment. Mordecai was placed in a position of authority, and Haman was hanged on his own gallows.
God delivered His people from the consequences of Haman’s bureaucratic pride and the insanity of his edict. The Jews keep the Feast of Purim to this day in remembrance of God’s deliverance when one young lady decided she had come to the kingdom for that hour, and at total risk to herself, she stepped forward to be counted. With that background, let’s read Psalm 30. Put yourself into the circumstance of those people who were being hunted and were within a breath of their execution day when God delivered them.
“I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” Again, I could preach on any one of these verses because I have one continuing message: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” He has not changed; His faithfulness to these people is an example of His faithfulness to us.
“O LORD, thou has brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” A better translation would be “give thanks to the memorial of His holiness.” “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.”
I said earlier that Psalm 10 probably doesn’t apply to very many people listening to this message. But I believe there are many people who have experienced what is described here in Psalm 30. Psalm 10 teaches us that it is not enough to just have courage and endurance and call it faith, if the source of your faith is your own heart. But now I want to address those Christians who have been beguiled by the devil. Satan is cunning. If he cannot completely turn you from God and make you place your faith in yourself, then he will change his tactics and tell you, “You are God’s favorite. You are God’s most blessed person, the recipient of pleasures and joys at His right hand for evermore.” And the danger is that you might be tempted to say, “I shall never be moved.”
I am not preaching a complicated message today; I want to lead us by the hand. I think it is easy to see that faith in one’s own self and the thoughts conceived in one’s own heart are not going to save you in the day of trouble. F.B. Meyer tells the story of God drying up the brook that He had given to Elijah, and he warns us of one of the devil’s more successful tactics against the saints: there is a tendency to let our faith rest on the gifts that God has given us instead of the Giver of the gifts. When God has given us prosperity and security, it is easy to start resting our faith on what God has done for us instead of resting our faith in God Himself.
I want to pause long enough to let the subtlety of the attacks of Satan sink in. We learn as we go along what pleases the Lord, and we also learn as we go along what He does for us. It is valid to look back and remember the way God has led us in the past. Moses told the people in Deuteronomy 8, “Remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee.” But it becomes a corrupt look when we presumptuously count on everything being the same way forever. We can become like those corrupt ones the Psalmist speaks of when he says, “Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.” We can mechanically reduce God down to His provision and say that because He did a certain thing for us in the past, He will always keep doing the same thing. Don’t box God in. Remember He is the One who did the certain thing. God will always be and He changes not. As He was, He forever will be. It is a subtle but very important distinction.
“I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved.” Literally, “I said in my security, I shall never be moved.” I have seen people who have received a miraculous healing then become so proud of their healing that they lose sight of God. There are others who receive healing, but when confronted with a new physical emergency, if God doesn’t heal them again in the same way that He did in the past, they start to question their faith. I must not place my faith in my heart, my self or my way. Neither should I place my faith in what god has provided for me in the past. Job said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” but in Job’s case, God was there at the end and gave him twice as much once He got him straightened out.
“And in my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved. LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.” I said, “What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? Shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.” Our prosperity can turn to bitter ashes of mourning in a stroke. But when we say, “LORD, be thou my helper,” look at what He can do: “Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.”
We read two illegitimate statements from Psalms 10 and 30: “He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved,” and “I said in my security, I shall never be moved.” When can you legitimately say, “I shall not be moved?” The answer is in Psalm 16. Turn to it now.
Psalm 16 is called a “Michtam of David.” Some commentators have translated it, “a golden psalm of David.” It is a golden contribution. Gold is the type of divinity in the Scripture, and this is one of David’s gold nuggets. It begins, “preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou are my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee. . .” I am not good enough for Him, but He is still my Lord. “But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.” The “lot” refers to what God measures out for us to have. “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places. . . I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” That is the key to it all.
There are “promise boxes” that have only the second half of Psalm 16:8 in them: “because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” You ought to tear them up, because it is false teaching without its context. It states a principle, but you will never have it as your principle if you do not also know the first half of the verse. The principle is true, and it is available to every saint of God wherever you may be today. But let me tell you something: you can say it and it is true, but that does not mean God is at your right hand. The truth never changes: “because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” But it is only true if He is there at your right hand.
I know the promise, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Again, that is a true statement, but it has conditions attached to it, and so does Psalm 16:8. Not everyone has the Lord at their right hand. In Hebrew symbolism, the right hand is always the symbol of power, joy, accomplishment, gift and victory. All of those things flow from the right hand and God becomes our supply at the right hand. And “because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” That is marvelous if He is there. But how do you get Him there?
I am in the business of demystifying spiritual things. Again, what is faith? Faith is 90 percent courage, and courage is 99 percent willpower. Faith is 9 percent tenacity or endurance, which is 99 percent effort, but it is effort that is rightly focused. Psalm 10 describes a self-willed effort: “I have said in my heart, I shall not be moved.” Psalm 30 describes a prideful reliance on God’s past blessings: “In my prosperity, I shall never be moved.” They both got moved. But Psalm 16 says, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” How do I get Him at my right hand? Read the first part of the verse: “I have set the LORD always before me.” The word “set” is a good translation, but it is very easy to water it down. It involves the power of effort. “I will set the Lord. . .”
Where will I set the Lord? I will set the Lord before me, or literally, directly in front of me, in my sight. What does that mean? Let me make a simple illustration and imagine for a moment that the Lord is represented by a pair of wrap-around glasses. Without those glasses, everywhere I look I see my problems. And in the midst of those problems, I would be a fool to say, “I shall not be moved.” That would be just whistling in the dark. I am not going to count on past blessings to carry me through my new problems. Instead, I will put on these glasses and wrap the Lord around me until, wherever I look, He is in front of my face.
Setting is a specific act, just as literally as I put those glasses on. To use another illustration, I have set the Lord before me like a builder sets a foundation. “I have set the Lord before me” means that I will not let anything come between me and the Lord. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we behold Him “with open face,” with nothing distorting in-between.
When am I to set the Lord before my face? “Always.” If you are in a valley, you can look at your valley and wish you w ere on a mountain, or you can set the Lord before you right there. If you are in poverty, you can look at your declining bank account and wish you were rich, or you can set the Lord before you there. He is your supply. F.B. Meyer says there are no new truths, we just need to rediscover the old ones. Even though I have preached many times that faith is 90 percent courage, it seems I have “brainwash” myself into the right focus every day. We all need to wash our brains daily with the truth of God’s word!
“I have set the LORD always before me.” That takes effort. I need God at my right hand. That is absolutely true. But I do not get Him there by trying to put Him there. You cannot mix the cause with the effect; that is the paradox of truth. That is what makes God’s word so simple if grasped, but so hard to communicate, if you try to be logical instead of recognizing the experiential truth. You do not put God in front of you and say, “Now get over here at my right hand.” That is where too much praying is focused: “Lord, get over here at my right hand quickly!” That is not the way it works.
Do not ask me to explain it; all I can do is describe what happens. When I set the Lord always before my face, He is at my right hand. When I am focused on Him, He focuses on the area of my need and acts from my right hand. That is why I say over and over again, “Turn to the Lord and He will turn to you.” Some people think that turning to the Lord means you yank Him off His throne and shake Him and say, “Wake up, Lord, I need You here!” That is not “turning to the Lord.” God’s word says, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” How did He get to my right hand? “I have set the Lord always before my face.” I think you understand that. It is not difficult to understand; the problem is doing it.
“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” This psalm is one of the Messianic Psalms. They are called Messianic Psalms because they envelop the utterances of the Lord of Glory, who one day would step down from heaven’s glory and tent Himself in human flesh, and become the living, spoken word of God. One of the keys in this record of God’s dealing with men is how He will burst through these temples of clay with a prophetic revelation concerning the Messiah. David begins to flow with God’s word and in the mist of his declaration, it suddenly changes and he becomes a mouthpiece in anticipation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Psalm 16 closes with these words: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Circle the words “in thy presence.” It is a different word than the one used in verse 8, but again we could translate it “before thy face is fullness of joy.”
Now catch this picture, because this psalm reveals one of the simple laws of the Spirit. If I set the Lord before my face, He is at my right hand and I shall not be moved. That is just the icing on the cake. As I set the Lord before my face, I am set before His face; and as He places Himself at my right hand, I am placed at His right hand! Better still, we are already at His right hand: Ephesians 2:6 says that we are seated in heavenly places by faith in Christ Jesus. We have “the earnest of our inheritance.” That not only refers to the Holy Spirit seating Himself in us, it also refers to the anticipatory seating of ourselves in Christ. As we walk worthily of the vocation wherein we are called, and as we stand and withstand and fight the fight of faith, we have that hope.
Where is Christ seated? He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, the source of all pleasure, righteousness, joy, glory, mercy and power. As I set Him before my face, and as I stop in the midst of the storm and get my focus right again, He is at my right hand. That means He goes to work this instant on my problem and yours. He gives so much for so little. And as I set Him before my face, I am set before His face. He is at my right hand, and He puts me at His right hand, where “there are pleasures for evermore.” That is basic Christianity.
Heavenly Father, it is not enough that we just hear Your word; I pray that You will enable us to be doers. Before I preached this message, I asked You to add the touch of Your Holy Spirit to the word as it is heard. These are Your people, who share with me the battle of faith that we are engaged in as a body, as well as having their own individual battles. I pray now that a new focus and a new realization will come: You are willing to stand at our right hand and You are enough. When any weapon is formed against us anywhere, all we have to do is set You always before our face. I pray that decisions will be made to take a new fix and a new focus, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reprinted with permission from Pastor Melissa Scott
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