STRENGTH AND REFUGE
Living Lord, sometimes time drags; sometimes it just slips away. Remind me that my times are in your hands.
Read PSALM 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
- Psalm 46:1 In Hebrew texts 46:1-11 is numbered 46:2-12.
- Psalm 46:1 Title: Probably a musical term
- Psalm 46:3 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verses 7 and 11.
- Psalm 46:9 Or chariots
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ at my right, Christ at my left’.1
This well-known psalm has been set to music in several languages. It is full of vivid images and offers a deep sense of assurance of the power and protection of God. Most readers don’t have any difficulty with the images here – but they are not far removed from the apocalyptic language we have been immersed in this week!
Looking around us, it seems at times as though the earth gives way (v 2), reminding us of the mountains and islands in flight.2 Then again, something like a mountain ‘was thrown into the sea’3 and in Daniel’s vision the winds churned up the great sea, from which the beasts emerged.4 We find earthquakes here in verse 3 and throughout Revelation. God’s judgment against the warring nations comes with fire in verse 9, a major symbol of final judgment in the last third of Revelation. When we are unsettled or puzzled by the images in Revelation, it is worth noting that this language is used all through Scripture.
The answer to the uncertainty around us is presented with two contrasting elements. On the one hand, the refuge God offers is found in a very specific place: the ‘city of God’ and the ‘holy place’ (v 4) refer to Jerusalem at the heart of Israel, the temple within it and the Holy of Holies at the center. The God who is a fortress is the ‘God of Jacob’ (v 7) and none other. And yet, on the other hand, this God will be ‘exalted among the nations’ (v 10) and will do his work ‘to the ends of the earth’ (v 9). The God of Scripture is a God of the particular and the universal; he is the God of Israel, whose grace, peace and power have now, through Jesus, been made available to all.
At what points in life do I feel insecure and need to look to God as my fortress? Who around me needs to discover this truth?
In you, and in you alone, I am secure. It doesn’t matter what life hurls at me, nothing can separate me from your love for me in Christ Jesus.
1 Patrick’s Breastplate 2 Rev 6:14; 16:20 3 Rev 8:8 4 Dan 7:2,3
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