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Shiviti Adonai - Keeping your focus
Marc Chagall - Jeremiah

Shiviti Adonai

Opening your heart to God's Presence

by John J. Parsons

Psalm 11:5a BHS

"I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken."
(Psalm 16:8)

ONE OF THE GREATEST OF SINS is to forget who you really are – a prince or princess of God. Forgetting who you are leads to forgetting who the Lord is, just as forgetting who the Lord is leads to forgetting who you are.... Therefore the Lord constantly tells us to remember and not to forget the call of his heart, the message of his love.

Heeding this message is difficult in our fallen world, since God does not want our relationship with him to be trivial. Our hearts must be tested in "desert places" until they cry out, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you" (Psalm 26:2; Deut. 8:16). As Abraham Heschel said, "God is of no importance unless he is of supreme importance." There is no compromise on this point: We are to love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength.

King David envisioned the Divine Presence standing before him, as close as his right hand. He "set the Lord always before him," which means that he consciously chose to regard all he did in relationship with the Master of the Universe. David's focus made his heart steadfast and unshaken during the great trials of his life. He understood that "all things work together for good" for those who love God (Rom. 8:28). David's awe over God's abiding presence grounded him in reality, and he therefore neither feared nor flattered men. The LORD was his Rock and his Salvation.

There are two great questions God always is asking us. The first is "who do you say that I am?" and the second is "do you love me?" Being in a love relationship with God is the goal of life, the "end of the law," and the reason we were created. But we cannot truly love God apart from understanding his passion for us. The LORD is the Jealous God, a Consuming Fire, who desires all of our heart upon the altar (Luke 9:23).

The message of the cross is that our lives matter to God. We are "am segulah," a treasured people, called to walk in the zeal of God's love (1 Pet. 2:9; Titus 2:4). Your life has great value; you are significant and you are truly loved by our Heavenly Father. There is a "future and a hope" reserved for you (Jer. 29:11); there is "a white stone, and on that stone will be written a new name that no one can understand except the one who receives it" (Rev. 2:17). Trust in the Lord with all your heart...

Is there anything more important than setting the Lord always before you? Is there any ill for which this is not sure remedy? Yea, even if war should rise against you, in this will you find confidence... Therefore, set the Lord always before you; fix your heart upon Him and find comfort in the power of his love.

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

shiviti Adonai lenegdi tamid, ki mimini bal-emot

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