This past week, Don Allen took us through Psalm 63. This psalm is a hymn by a soul earnestly seeking God, his greatest desire. Don pointed out the many reasons David yearned for God and why those reasons apply to us, too. We all face storms and difficulties which are out of our control. Our own sinful nature seems uncontrollable as well. Only in God can we find peace in trials and power to accomplish what God would have us do. Only in Him do we find protection from spiritual warfare. Most of all, in Him we find at last the cure for our thirsty souls. We long to see Him in all His glory and really know Him. Through the great gift of the Holy Spirit, we can come to know Him and love Him and trust Him as we spend time in His Word.
This week, Psalm 46 gives us a glimpse of what it is like to really trust God. Eric Twisselmann will guide us into this glorious psalm. Charles Spurgeon wrote of this psalm “It might be called the Song of Holy Confidence were it not that from the great reformer’s love for this soul-stirring hymn it will probably be best remembered as Luther’s Psalm.” Luther’s hymn, A Mighty Fortress, rings with “Holy Confidence” and fills our hearts with joy in remembering that whatever is happening on earth right now God is still sovereign. He has it all under control.
Read Psalm 46. Pause at each “selah.” This word may have indicated a pause, perhaps to retune the instruments. We can pause and contemplate the tumult and unrest on earth from a position of complete safety in our Refuge and Strength. What if we read the newspaper this way? What if, after every terrible headline we were to think to ourselves, “Selah.” Then in peace and confidence we could try to see God’s hand and look forward to His complete victory. “Selah” speaks of serene contemplation of whatever tumult we may see with our human eyes while we retune our hearts to praise the One who is Lord of All, even the most upsetting circumstances.
Reread verses 1-3. Think of the earth giving way. In California that is a real possibility. We can’t see quakes coming. We can’t stop them. We just have to deal with them when they come. The earth that seems so solid moves violently. We have tangible proof of how vulnerable we are. Quakes make us consider our limitations and remind us of all our many fears. The sea’s roaring and foaming in hurricanes is similarly fear-inducing. Verses 1-3 speak of everything solid and reliable in the physical world being pitched into uproar. How can the psalmist assert that “we will not fear?”
What a change of scene in verses 4-7! A peaceful, life-giving river flows through the city of God. Two weeks ago, Rob Price showed us from Psalm 2 that the people on earth are either citizens of the world or citizens of God’s kingdom. In Psalm 46:4-5, we see the capital city of the kingdom of God, our true home. Our Lord is in the midst of her while outside the nations are in tumult. What do you see happening in your world right now that threatens to upset everything? Can you picture that beautiful stream of living water and feel the fear recede? In verse 7, the psalmist calls God the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel (1 Samuel 17:45.) The Hebrew word “Sabaoth” means a great gathering or host. This may refer to armies of angels or all the people of God. It means a joining together, usually to serve a superior. How grateful we can be to be part of that great joining together with the god of Jacob as our Head! Let us pause, “selah,” and take in the joy of that.
In the first stanza, we were feeling our earth become unsteady and shake. Yet we declared our confidence. In the second stanza, we moved to the beautiful city of the Living God and were unshaken by what the nations might be doing. Read verses 8-11. Now God intervenes on earth to bring about all He has planned. We are invited to behold His works. The Prince of Peace brings peace indeed. All the weapons of man are as nothing to Him. In recent news, what wars, what weapons have disturbed you most? What hatred is evident? What senseless killing happens around us? What can we do with our fears, our upset and our outrage?
Verse 10 is the sovereign remedy for all those sin-caused ills: “Be still, and know that I am God.” No crazed killer, no great army, no horrifying weapon can stand against Him. Read the whole verse. Where else in scripture do you remember God promising that He will be exalted? You might read Philippians 2:10. You might also look at Revelation chapters 7 and 20. God will be exalted and we will see it!
In the last verse of Psalm 46 the psalmist once again emphasizes that “the Lord of Hosts is with us” in that great gathering of His people. He is our stronghold. Do you believe that? How can we move from human fear to godly trust?
We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us come to know God better and trust Him more. He can help us remember God’s provision for us and for others. He can show us where unbelief still lurks in our lives. Most of us have some work to do in this area. Please pray for Eric Twisselmann as he helps us move closer to being able to feel the confidence expressed in this psalm. Then when troubles come, we can say as Luther said to his friend, “Come, Philip, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm.”
Resources: Spurgeon, Treasury of David, (This website is sometimes unavailable—Suggest the alternate below. It takes you to Verse 1 of Psalm 46 with links to the next verse.) http://www.spurgeon.org/treasury/treasury.php
Bible Gateway, dozens of bible translations, www.biblegateway.com
J. Vernon McGee, Psalms Volume II, Thru the Bible Books, Pasadena, CA
MP3s and other materials available at www.ttb.org
Hymns based on Psalm 46 http://hymnary.org/browse/scripture/Psalms/46