I don’t know how long I have been working on this passage. I think it was originally brought to my attention during staff devotions at the church I serve. The student minister used it to highlight God’s dominion over all the upheaval in our nation after the death of Mr. George Floyd. Little did we know what the coming months would hold . . .
As I read over the chapter, God pressed upon my heart to commit this one to memory. It wasn’t entirely new to me – Verse 5 has stood out for the use of the feminine pronouns “she” and “her.” Verse 10 can be found on and in many faith-based products; it is popular for mission conferences too. I had no idea how valuable these truths would become . . .
“God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”Psalm 46:1-3 ESV
Over the last few months, I have needed God to be my safe place. I have seen trouble and been reminded that He is Immanuel – with me. Through the Christmas season, the Spirit showed me over and over that He was indeed “very present” in the midst of all that was happening. I wrote about here: https://taravinson.com/2020/12/22/among-us/
The “Therefore” in verse 2 can be believed because He is among us. He isn’t just causally hanging out. Because He is our refuge, strength and very present help – I don’t have to fear.
While earthquakes are possible where I live in middle Tennessee, they aren’t likely and they definitely are something I live in fear of. My kids don’t have earthquake drills in their classrooms. However, things that seem like mountains, immovable and unshakeable, do seem to be moving. Our government, our economy, our law enforcement, our abilities to provide toilet paper for our family – all seem to be sources for anxiety on some level. Institutions and everyday things that we’ve taken for granted make us feel powerless and vulnerable.
Yet . . . remember when, not if it, but when, the earth gives way under us, and the waves seem to be viciously eroding the boundaries we have known, He is our Rock. the waves may come and the waters will rise but He is all the protection and provision we need.
When the earth is giving way, the mountains are trembling, and the foaming waters are roaring, we need to remember that we have declared that we will NOT fear because He is very much present with us. He is our refuge protecting us and our strength preserving for us.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.”Psalm 46:4-5 ESV
This week I helped my sixth grade daughter study for her Social Studies test on the subcontinent of India. The review guide’s questions about the Ganges River reminded me of another study guide of hers. The topic of that one was ancient Egypt and the resembling question was about the Nile River. It is not anything new or shocking that cities and towns would be founded along the banks of rivers. Rivers provide a steady source of food, transportation, and – most importantly – water, a basic need for our very survival.
This river in this passage isn’t filled with just any ordinary river water. (Let’s face it, no one nowadays wants to drink straight from any river we know.) This river makes glad the city of God. It is filled with Living Water. The very water that Jesus Himself provides. He told the woman at the well about this water and it most definitely made her glad too.
This “holy habitation of the Most High” means something more to us as Christ followers than it would have to this song’s original singers. The Most High now, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, resides, lives, habitats within us.
So, in verse 5, the “her” the author refers to is NOT an individual woman. He intended the pronoun to refer to the city of God. BUT, with our New Testament understanding of where the Holy Spirit resides, in the heart of the believer, we can confidently claim the truth that He is indeed in our midst and we will not be moved.
Everything around us can be shifting, but our refuge is secure. It is His strength, sourced of the Living Water, flowing into the holy habitat within us that keep us from being moved. We can rejoice and be glad in the midst of the uncertainty of the attack.
And when is the attack the scariest? When we can’t see our enemy. When we are blinded by the night, by the darkness around us. Yet, look! When can we know with certainty that we will receive help? At the dawn! In the morning, His mercies are new and we are reminded of His steadfast love for us. With each rising sun, in colors streaked across the eastern sky, evidence of His faithful love and provision meet us.
“The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.Psalm 46:6 ESV
The nations are indeed raging. I learned in school nations are people groups that may or may not be represented in their governments or defined by geographic borders. They are linked by histories and languages, customs and traditions. And all over the planet, right now there are nations raging.
Kingdoms are tottering. Even governments whose stability we may have taken for granted seem to be on the brink of chaos and confusion. No corner of the globe seems to be untouched by discord and division.
But . . . “he utters his voice.” He doesn’t have to speak up to be heard. He doesn’t need to yell to exert His authority. He mumbles and “the earth melts” in response. He is still large. He is still in charge. He is still on His throne and none of the squabbling, raging and tottering usurps His ability to melt it all with a mere utterance.
“The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”Psalm 46:7 ESV
This verse instantly reminds me of a song from Building 429. The chorus goes: “I know who goes before me. I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always on my side.” Think about that “the Lord of hosts,” the God of angel armies is with us . . .
And there’s that preposition “with” used here, reminding us that God is “a very present help in trouble.” He isn’t sitting distant and cold on a throne in a heavenly castle. He isn’t off too busy to be bothered at headquarters far behind the battlefront. He is with us in the field of fire, on the front line protecting us because He is our fortress.
This verse also reminds us something very important about our fortress. He is the God of Jacob. He is the Old Testament God of miracles and plagues, reminding me of another song. The chorus in Tauren Wells’ “Famous For” pleads for God to “Make way through the waters, walk me through the fire, do what You are famous for . . . Shut the mouths of lions, Bring dry bones to life, And do what You are famous for.” We need to be reminded that this famous God who has done famous things is the God who is sheltering us in the midst of all the world’s crazy.
This is where I will stop for today . . . tomorrow I will post “Part 2” and finish out this psalm. The original song writer will end up repeating verse 7 again at the end of the chapter, so to pause here makes sense. Besides, there’s plenty to chew on and digest before we take a bite out of the rest.
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