Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,  always ready to help in times of trouble.

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
    From the very break of day, God will protect it.

The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. 

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.

Introduction

Psalm 46 is a great Psalm. Although ascribed to one of the praise and worship leaders, Dr. Wiersbe thinks it was written my King Hezekiah who among other things was a poet. The back drop of the Psalm would be the Sennacherib crisis where the brutal Assyrian army had laid siege to Jerusalem. The Assyrians made a lot of threats but never shot one arrow over the wall: matter of fact, the Angel of the LORD paid them a visit and the next morning, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers lay dead. God miraculously intervened and saved Jerusalem.

My present dilemma is my great love for this Psalm and all that I could say in connection with it but I know time is a factor and so I have prayed for the LORD to help me organize my thoughts. I do love this Psalm and I have two stories that I love to tell that are related.

FIRST: Let me give you the outline. There are three stanzas in the Psalm. Verses 1-3 are the first, 4-7 is the second and the final is 8-11. We are going to talk about three things: OUR REFUGE, OUR RIVER AND OUR RELIEF.

I. THERE US A REFUGE

God is our refuge and strength,  always ready to help in times of trouble.

God is are place to go when trouble comes. Our refuge is not a place but a person–Jesus Christ. When trouble comes, we run to Him. I’ve never seen a tornado up close and personal but if I saw one coming, I would run to shelter if I could find one.

I was raised on a farm and the image of little chicks taking refuge under their mother’s wings is vivid in my mind. When those chicks sensed danger, they ran to their mother who was waiting to cover them with her wings. In seconds, those little chicks disappeared.

Martin Luther loved this Psalm and he wrote a great hymn based on this Psalm…

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

The year 1527 was the most difficult year of Luther’s life. After the stress of leading the reformation for a decade, Luther began having physical problems: dizzy spells so severe that they could render him dysfunctional. Along with the dizziness was a ringing or buzz in his ear and problem with his heart and digestive system. Luther, literally thought, he was dying. He felt so near to death that he told a friend, “I’ve spent a week in hell with my entire body being in pain.” To make bad matters worse, the BLACK PLAGUE invaded Germany. Thousand fled the country but Luther and his wife Katie stayed to help and their home became a hospital for the sick and dying. Luther lost two children and was in fear of losing a third: during this terrible ordeal, Psalm 46 became the strength of his soul. Martin Luther found solace, rest and refuge in God.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God’s own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabbath his name,
from age to age the same;
and He must win the battle.

NOTE: Now look at verse 2-3…

So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! 

The oceans, to the Jews, was a symbol of instability. One minute the oceans can be placid and the next, it can be roaring with huge waves, even devastating wave caused by earthquakes. To the Jew, the sea was unpredictable and dangerous and always changing.

The Mountains were a symbol of stability. Mountains generally stay fixed but Psalm 46 describes and upheaval, catastrophic change, mountains being shaken, crumbling into the sea. It is a picture of chaos, turmoil, upheaval, instability, and change. We are living in such times ourselves, sacred institutions like marriage crumbling and falling into the sea of secular humanism and political correctness. Such catastrophic change can cause us to fear, even to panic.

Although I am a change agent, there are some things, many things that I do not want to change and yet I can’t stop things from changing. I saw this on Andy Griffin a few months ago: Andy was planning to leave Mayberry for a job in Reliegh and Barney was visibly shaken. Some changes we don’t like, they are disturbing to us.

Almost twenty years ago, one of our senior adults was in a nursing home in Huntsville. She was also in a lock down unit. When I went in to visit her, there were 15-20 others in the room and all of them were making sounds. The noise made it impossible to think, let alone visit. One of the care givers, a beautiful black woman came to me and said, “You are a preacher, aren’t you?” I responded in the affirmative, then she said “Preach!” I said, “Are you kidding me, how can I preach in this racket and besides I don’t have a bible.” She quickly disappeared and then showed back up with a bible, she handed it to me and said, “Now preach.” I continued to protest, “Mam this will not work.” She said, “You open that bible, read it and then preach and see what happens.” The only passage I could think of was Psalm 46 so I opened to the Psalm and began reading. I was astounded. The room grew quiet. They stayed quiet until I finished. I preached to myself I suppose. I was discomforted by all the changes in Mrs. Ema’s life [the lady I was there to visit]. Change, especially when they seem to be for the worse, is disturbing to we humans. But we have a REFUGE. We have a place to hide. A place to rest and feel safe and it is in the arms of Jesus.

II. THERE IS A RIVER

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.

Max and David Sapp wrote a beautiful song inspired by this verse. There is a river…

There is a river that flows from deep within,
There is a fountain that frees the soul from sin.
Come to this water, there is a vast supply.
There is a river that never shall run dry.

Most all great ancient cites were built on rivers but not Jerusalem. They did have a water supply beneath the city. Matter of fact, Hezekiah was responsible for building a conduit to get the siloam spring in under the city. In the ancient world, a river was the symbol of life. Man cannot survive without water. Rivers flow and they symbolize abundant provision and unending joy. What the world offers is tinsel and fake: the world doesn’t know true joy or the source of that joy but you and I do. The river is JESUS.

III. THERE IS A RELIEF

Psalm 46 has historical significance: the LORD intervened and save Jerusalem from destruction. He fought Israel’s battle. It was over before it started. BUT it also has a prophetic significance.

We live in a broken world that is in open rebellion against God. All this chaos and turmoil is a product of man’s rebellion against God’s authority. Gay rights, same sex marriage, attack upon law and order…it is all connected and a part of one conspiracy. Psalm 2 comes to mind…

Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together
against the Lord and against His anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.”

Here is the good news: God is sovereign–He is in absolute control. He is allowing many things to happen these days but there is coming a day when he will step in…He will appear and all the world will keep silent.

Yes my friend, God can stop the lying tongues, He can put a stop to the wars, He can destroy all their weapons of destruction. He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” This is a great devotional thought but the actual purpose here is to remind us that a day is coming when we will surrender to His sovereign rule. Literally, it means “take your hands off,” or “let go.” You are not in control, I am.

I love Dr. Taylor’s paraphrase in the LIVING BIBLE…verses 6-10

The nations rant and rave in anger—but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin. The Commander of the armies of heaven is here among us. He, the God of Jacob, has come to rescue US. Come, see the glorious things that our God does, how he brings ruin upon the world and causes wars to end throughout the earth, breaking and burning every weapon. “Stand silent! Know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation in the world!”

Now it is not wrong to use this passage as a devotional thought. Sometimes we need to be still, to look up, to reflect. A hurried pace will destroy any chance you have of having a devotional life. Sometimes we need to just be still. I listen to Steven Curtis Chapman sing “Be still and know that I am God,” a lot.

Be still and know that he is god
Be still and know that he is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease

Be still and know that he is god
Be still and know that he is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that he will never change
Be still, Be speechless

Another great hymn that comes to mind is Be Still My Soul

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain

After the kids were grown, June and I were taking a little trip and we both forgot our DAILY BREAD DEVOTIONALS. I had been studying this passage so I shared a little devotional thought with June. In concluding, I said, “We are not going to be in a hurry. We are going to take a slower pace, just relax, set back and experience God.” In the blink of an eye, she shoot back, “Who can relax with you under the wheel.” It was all down hill from there.

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