Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Our Refuge and Strength (Psalm 46)
Our Refuge and Strength—Psalm 46
Over the past several weeks we have been hit hard with bad news, gloomy prognostications, and disconsolate prognosis. We’ve been faced with shocking deaths, and calamitous events all over the world. On top of these are the dark stories of potential national fiscal failures, racial tensions, governmental corruptions. As you and I stare down the near future – say the rest of 2015 thru 2016, we have no clue what’s coming from the other end of the dark tunnel, but we have a creeping suspicion it might be a freight train. So this Psalm ought to be one of the first places you go whenever the dark clouds of doom begin to brood over your soul.
Verse 1 is the main point of the Psalm, and all the rest flesh it out. The sentiment is echoed in 7 and 11. So, here is the declaration – no matter what else may follow, no matter what else may befall you, no matter how you feel: God is our refuge and strength, a very present (very accessible) help!
1. God our Refuge (1-3): V. 2-3 picture a worldwide cataclysmic event. The picture is of two of the most “stable” things you can imagine in the world (Mountains and Terra Firma) crushing, crashing, splashing and thrashing! Earthquakes…Powerful forces able to throw down mountains…The writer is describing the most earthly impossible, earth-shattering event as if it’s actually happening. // What is the most distressing, world-crushing event that causes you deep concern? Comets or Meteors crashing into planet earth? Nuclear war? Ebola pandemic? The end of America as you now know it? Your marriage falling apart? Cancer? Your children or wife or husband killed in an auto accident? The sacred song-writer declares: Fear not! For God is our safety net, our fortress wall, our strength, and our exceedingly abundant help! Lift up your eyes to the hills, and see that your help comes, not with an air Calvary unit cresting the hilltop, but Almighty God himself, who holds you in his hands. “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand” (John 10.28-29).
2. God our Strength (4-7): This is part of the background to Revelation 21 and 22. The river, the City of God, and the “God in her midst.” But this is not about some future, apocalyptic event at the end of the ages. This is about God, right here, right now, dwelling in the midst of his people, strengthening them–Psalm 55.22—and he is engaged in this violent, raucous, calamitous, cacophonous scene! So why should we not fear, though nations, theologians, politicians, religious terrorists, banditos, and bacteria rage against us? - 7 (5). Immanu-el (Matt. 1 and 28). God is our out-of-reach, unstoppable, undefeatable security. Matthew 16.18. So, what do you fear? What things in the news, down the street, behind your front door, cause your knees to knock, your panic-attacks, or your tears? The sacred song-writer firmly announces: Fear not! God is in our midst. He is our strength and though all these things rush against us, roaring, clamoring, crashing; they will only break apart against him like so many ocean waves against the cliffs, because God - Immanu-el - is in our midst! And the voice he once used to create all things he will use to disintegrate his foes and their world (6). Lift up your head, get your eyes off of the darkness and gloom in the newspapers, and behold your God, Jesus Christ, who was manifested that He might destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3.8b)! “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand” (John 10.28-29).
3. God our Help (8-11): How does he deliver his people? By making his peace to overwhelm his and our enemies! And how will he bring his peace? V. 8-9, by decimating the foe, and all their war-weapons. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16.33). Or Hebrews 2.14-15. And so, verse. 10 is thrown into the teeth of God’s enemies and ours: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Mark 4.35-41: “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" -- “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand” (John 10.28-29).
And so, I call upon you to cast yourself into the care and embrace of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us! And as you glare into the uncertainty of nearer future – maybe the rest of 2015/2016, Fear not, for… “The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.”