Psalm 46 was part of my devotional reading for today. Martin Luther’s inspiration for the classic hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, came from this Psalm. Both are songs of triumph!
When the forces of nature threaten my seemingly secure, earthly habitation,
When my murky future stretches far into the vast unknown,
When the faces of nations turn against me and my neighbors across this great continent…
God’s presence and very real help are more than adequate, in these moments of distress, and in our time of need.
Even as the earth trembles beneath my walkway (yes, I have watched in fear as electrical poles collide while the ground rolls; I have counted the minutes until monsoons crossed my desert plain, till the force of a hurricane or the swirling gray-green funnel reached my street),
As storms bring wind and rain, fire or flood or conflict, driving families away from cherished homes,
As governments decide against foundational principles of freedom and truth, stirring up national and cultural controversy, instability, and further dependence upon what is already shaken,
As leaders of our homes, businesses, banks, schools, churches and Congress fall or drift away to pursue their own self-interest,
And even when friends or family withhold the favor of their company…
I have been in these places. They cause me concern, and I start to worry, to wonder, to be afraid.
Yet, three times (3x) in a trio of stanzas within Psalm 46, I read:
God is our refuge…
God most specifically and repeatedly proclaims: He is my safety net—my secure hiding place—the calmest harbor—the strongest shelter—my most peaceful sanctuary for whatever storm is brewing in my world this very moment.
My enemies are no more a threat than a puffer fish. They can rage, they can attack, but they cannot withstand the power of my God.
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
And all those assaults melt with it.
Come, the Psalmist insists, look, observe, gaze intently, fix your focus on, and consider what God has done and is doing…
Be still, and know…
Stop squirming, cease your worrying, quiet the turbulence within your mental and emotional chambers, and know (deeply and intimately and most assuredly)…
…that I am God.
This God is the only God who will rise above all gods—the God who is with me, who wraps His mighty and loving arms around me to hold myself and those I care about securely within His embrace!
God’s sovereignty brings comfort to His children, and provides warning to those outside His care (by their own choosing). This is amazing enough, but there’s more:
Selah appears three times (3x) in this Psalm as well. At the end of each stanza the Psalmist encourages the reader to pause and give praise, to really stop and think about the truth God’s Holy Spirit longs to communicate to my spirit. Pay attention, He’s saying. You have nothing to fear.
I so desperately need to rest in this knowledge.
God wants me to rest in this knowledge.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed,
And the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.
~ Psalm 46
(Harbor photo courtesy of Brocken Inaglory; Bible photo courtesy of Dan Croft)