“1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude. 4 A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. 5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. 6 The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts! 7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude. 8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 9 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. Interlude”
Psalm 46 is a song that was written in the context of stress, problems, and great uncertainty. The writer’s world wasn’t just crumbling; it was caving in all around him. Even though this was originally written with the nation of Israel in mind, it is still applicable to us today. A nation is only as strong as the foundation on which its faith rests. Today we want to trust in government more than in God. But the source of our strength cannot be in our government, our economy, or even our military mighty. Today much of our turmoil comes because we are trying to trust in the temporary. We need to turn from trusting in our government and our gold and turn back to God. In this psalm we see three interludes, some versions use the word Selah. It is believed to have been a musical rest, in which the singers stopped singing and only the instruments were heard. This may also signify a musical crescendo that is then followed by silent reflection, carrying the thought of a time of meditation. In this Psalm we are called to pause and meditate on the magnitude and magnificence of God. As we pause and reflect at these three musical rests we are reminded of three essential truths about God. It’s here that we discover a God who demonstrates His dependability through:
- His Protection
No matter what we are going through we are reminded that God is our refuge and sure strength. Only He is our help in the harrowing times. When all other harbors fail He will not, because His firm foundation is not based on our feelings but His faithfulness. God is our reliable refuge even when what we perceive as permanent crumbles. It’s in these times when our world comes crashing down and everything we thought we could rely on caves in around us that we really discover that only God can truly protect us. This word “refuge” literally means to flee and run to a shelter, God wants us to run to Him for protection. Who or what are you running to and relying on for protection? Not only are we to rely on Him as a refuge but second we need to seek His strength. We need to rest in His strength and not our striving. When we feel weak and defenseless we need to lean on the Lord. The Psalmist says that God is always ready to help, He is an ever-present help, meaning that God is quick to give assistance. Literally it means that God has so proved Himself to be a help in the past and we can trust Him in the present. Part of our pausing should involve a time of reflection where we remember the faithfulness of God in the past so that we will fully trust him in the present. Because of who He is we do not have to fear. The word for trouble here refers to times of tribulation and the Psalmist is saying that in these times of trouble we don’t have to live in fear because our God is a faithful refuge and a secure strength. The question is, are you going to run to Him or try and rely on self? Verse 2 tells us not to fear but this is only true if verse 1 is true. If God is your refuge and strength, you don’t have anything to worry about. The problem is that many of us are not making Him our foundation; we are trying our trust to other things. When it comes to our fears the writer paints a worst case scenario. It’s a calamity on a cosmic scale with earthquakes, erupting volcanoes and mountains falling into the sea. But notice that even though the “earth gives way,” our circumstances cave and change, we don’t have to be afraid. Mountains have always been seen as the most secure part of nature, they are considered the most fixed and firm things on earth. Yet we are reminded that even the foundations of the earth can erode. We are to look to the Creator, not the creation, to love the Giver, and not the gifts. When 911 occurred it hit the country hard because the World Trade Center was seen as a symbol of economic power and stability, and the Pentagon stood for security, protection, and military supremacy. The very things we looked to as symbols of strength crumbed. The truth is that our only source of security is in God. When the economy collapses, wars break out, natural disasters destroy our communities, governments collapse, or our health fails, God is the only place we will find security. We may want to believe that our world, with all its advancements in technology and science is safer today than it was thousands of years ago but the truth is it’s not. We still can’t control violent volcanoes, tornadoes or tsunamis. Verse three describes the roaring waters of the sea, which is a perfect picture of our lives when they’re out of control. Roaring here means a great commotion, which describes our fluctuating feelings as we drown in the raging waves of worry. Our only security comes from placing our lives into the hand of the One who holds eternity, who is in control of all things. When Martin Luther was surrounded by trouble he read Psalm 46 and then wrote the great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” He saw the power of God as “a bulwark never failing.” No matter how fierce the storm the strength of God can sustain us. We see the collapse of our economy as a catastrophe, but sometimes it takes losing those things we rely on for safety in order to start seeking God. Our sense of helplessness should drive us to Him. As we come to the first interlude at the end of verse 3 take time to pause and ponder the power and protection of God. Who or what are you really trusting in? Are there any false safety nets that you are relying on that need to be stripped away so you can fall fully into the Fathers hands?