Psalm 16:8 is a confident and encouraging proclamation from the psalmist, King David. In this verse, he declares, “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved” (KJV). Other translations use the phrase I shall not be shaken in place of I shall not be moved; both expressions underscore David’s unwavering conviction. Throughout the psalm, David expresses his reliance on and trust in God.
To explain the meaning of I shall not be moved, we can use various metaphors. Imagine a firmly rooted tree, a house built on a strong foundation, or a courageous soldier holding the line in battle. We have strong confidence when we know we have support behind us. Like the awkward teenager standing up to bullies because of his stronger big brother standing with him, we can face life’s challenges knowing that the Almighty is with us. He is “at my right hand.” The ancients used this phrase to symbolize a person’s ultimate source of strength and power.
David’s trust expressed in Psalm 16:8 is not confined to the present world, nor does it suggest that he anticipated a life devoid of difficulties. His confidence that he would not be moved rested in God’s power, which even extends over death. This trust can be likened to the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who stood before King Nebuchadnezzar and said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16–18, emphasis added).
God’s power is evident in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth.” Everything traces back to the Ultimate Source, the Mind that brought forth conscious minds. God’s sovereignty encompasses evil, death, sin, suffering, and even Satan, as demonstrated through Christ’s victory on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:54–57; Colossians 2:13–15; Hebrews 2:14–15; Romans 8:11; John 11:25–26). The Creator holds the world in His hands, cares for human affairs, and is the Apex of wisdom (Psalm 24:1; Matthew 6:25–26; Romans 11:33–36).
Tragically, humans often replace God with other objects of trust. In ancient times, people fashioned gods from materials like wood or stone, or they worshiped the sun and moon and stars (2 Chronicles 33:3). Contemporary societies may view ancient worship practices as primitive, but we still construct idols. As author Nancy Pearcey wrote, “An idol is not necessarily something concrete, like a golden calf. It can also be something abstract, like matter. Is matter part of the created order? Sure it is. So the philosophy of materialism qualifies as an idol in the biblical sense” (www.biblegateway.com/blog/2015/12/finding-truth-an-interview-with-nancy-pearcey/, accessed 8/29/23). David emphasizes that those who worship other gods are on a misguided path (Psalm 16:4), which accounts for many of today’s distortions of the truth. Humans were designed to rely on the True God, and, when we replace Him, there are inevitable consequences.
Jesus taught, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). In contrast, “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand” (verse 26). The one with foundations will not be moved; the other is guaranteed to be shaken by life’s storms. Those who place their trust in Christ have that unshakable foundation. Regardless of circumstances, we can walk with confidence, knowing that we are secure in His hands—both in the present and for eternity.