Mark D. Roberts

Where Have You Fixed Your Attention?

Psalm 16:1-11

I know the LORD is always with me.
     I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

Psalm 16 begins with a cry for divine help: “Keep me safe, O God, for I
have come to you for refuge” (16:1). Yet the bulk of the Psalm does not
focus on that from which the psalmist needs refuge, that which
threatens to shake him. Rather, Psalm 16 celebrates God’s help in
difficult times, his presence that keeps us safe and gladdens our

Verse 8 reads: “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be
shaken, for he is right beside me.” In fact, the Hebrew of this verse
affirms God’s presence, but suggests that the psalmist has chosen to fix
his attention here, rather than on his problems. A more literal
translation of the first part of verse 8 would read, “I have set the
LORD before me continually.” Thus the NRSV translates, “I keep the LORD
always before me” while the TNIV suggests, “I keep my eyes always on the
LORD.” The Message puts it this way: “Day and night I’ll stick
with God.” So, though the fact that God is always with the psalm writer
provides a foundation for verse 8, the language of the verse indicates
that he has chosen to pay close attention to this truth.

From Jesus, we have received the promise of his continual presence:
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age”
(Matt. 28:20). So there is never a question of whether the Lord is with
us or not. But there is a question about whether we fix our attention on
this wonderful reality or not. How easy it is for us to live as if God
is distant. How easily we focus our minds on our problems and
challenges, forgetting to keep the Lord before our eyes.

When we choose to live in light of the truth of God’s persistent
presence, then we will be reassured. Like the psalmist, we will “not be
shaken” by the inevitable disappointments and detours of life. We will
stand firm in the midst of opposition and suffering. We will find the
strength to press on in service to God as we live for his kingdom in
this world.

of God’s presence today? Have you chosen to set the Lord before you
continually? Will you remember him when life gets hard? What helps you
to know that God is right beside you?

PRAYER: O Lord, as I read Psalm 16, I find myself
wishing that I could set you before me more faithfully. It is so easy
for me to focus my attention on all sorts of other things. When life
isn’t going as I wish, I can become preoccupied with my frustrations and
fears. How different it would be if I chose to fix my attention on you?

When I do this, I don’t neglect other things. I don’t forget about
my work or stop caring about those around me. In fact, the more I keep
you in focus, the more I am empowered to work faithfully and to love
generously. Knowing that you are with me gives me confidence to live
boldly for you and your kingdom.

Thank you, dear Lord, for being with me always. And thank you for helping me to attend to your presence. Amen.


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This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God ( You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.

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