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Everyone hides, but where?

Psalm 46 is an anchor to the truth that God can and must be trusted in the darkest of times.

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTOR 108/Peter_Mead 13 DE JULIO DE 2023 09:30 h
Photo: [link]Dev Benjamin[/link], Unsplash CC0.

For several generations, some of us have lived with relative stability. 

Yes, our cultures have shifted and changed.  And yes, we have seen our military forces participate in conflict.  But seismic shifts that rock our world have not been so familiar to many of us. 

The past few years have changed that.  If the world can change so suddenly, then maybe we would do well to be ready for significant events. 

Actually, if we are involved in church leadership, we should be both preparing our people for the future and preparing ourselves for major moments that will surely come.

Recently, my wife and I enjoyed another anniversary and took some time together in Psalm 46.  This is a great passage to soak in for your own benefit. 

And it is a great passage to be ready to share with others both before and when the need arises.  It is a Psalm of healthy hiding.

When the constant stream of news is suddenly shattered by something genuinely significant, where can we go?  When the normal rhythm of daily tasks grinds to a halt because something huge is happening, how can we find safety?  And when we look beyond the normal news narrative and see such significant and terrible agendas at play, who can be trusted? 

Psalm 46 points us to the answer.

Psalm 46 falls neatly into three stanzas, neatly demarcated by a Selah to give us the opportunity to contemplate.  The first stanza establishes a key thought that is then picked up in a refrain at the end of stanzas two and three. 

It is a clear Psalm, easy to read, and probably well worth committing to memory!

Stanza 1 serves to establish a truth that will weave through the whole Psalm.  Our refuge and strength is God himself, and our God is always accessible to us.  The result is that we will not fear. 

Four situations are described to underline how secure we are in our God.  Even an earthquake, even mountains being relocated, even raging seas, even the normal secure boundaries of creation trembling – even if the whole created order should revert to utter chaos, we will not fear. 

The character of God is more trustworthy than the apparently permanent mountains and boundaries of the seas?  Yes.  Selah.

Despite appearances in the first three verses, I do not think the writer is really focused on natural disasters.  He seems to be using them as descriptions of having your world rocked. 

Even a hypothetical upheaval that impacts everything considered permanent and stable would not undermine the reality of God being our ever-present refuge and strength.

In the second stanza, from verses 4-7, the writer zeroes in on the threat of war.  He begins with two verses describing the tranquil city of God, the place where he reigns and is present. 

And then, just as our hearts calm to ponder the hope of one day experiencing life in that city, verse 6 breaks in with a reminder that in this world everything is going crazy!  The nations are raging and tottering, like mountains falling into the seas. 

When geopolitical change crashes down around us, and we might add, when the ethical foundations of society are completely turned upside-down beneath us, then we find ourselves experiencing a seismic shift from the stability we have always known. 

But the truth of the first stanza is the anchor for us.  Our God is the LORD of hosts, he is with us, and the God of Jacob is our refuge.  Selah.

Let’s pause and ponder that refrain for a moment.  The LORD is the God who makes promises and keeps them; he is faithfully committed to following through on his plans and purposes, and he will continue to care for us.  

He is also so very strong.  He is the LORD of hosts – the God of angel armies.  One angel killed 185,000 Assyrian warriors in one night – presumably powerful, intimidating, physically impressive, well-armed Assyrian warriors. 

Imagine two angels.  How about ten?  What if there were 100?  Now try to picture a number so big that it could not be counted – that is the army of heavenly hosts. 

Our God leads that army, and that God is with us.  And since that God is our refuge, we run to hide in him.

In light of that truth, the final stanza, from verses 8-11, invites us to come and consider what God has done.  Implicitly, then, we are also to consider what he will do in the future. 

God ends wars, he topples powerful foes, and he will take away every weapon.  The armies of the world – whether they fight in military uniform, or with any other costume of control –will one day be commanded to stop!  To stand still.  To be quiet.  Hush.  Know that God is God.  Know that he will be exalted above all.

This world can generate raging nations, swelling armies, plotting despots, powerful dictators, destructive terrorists, and no end of new versions of evil. 

But it can never generate anything or anyone that is more powerful than our God. 

He is the God of angel armies, and he is with us.  He is our fortress, and we must run to hide in him.  The refrain repeats in verse 11.  This truth needs to repeat in our hearts and drive us to him whenever this world generates the slightest hint of fear in us.

When threats rise up, everyone hides.  One option is to run to God.  We know that he is bigger than anything in creation.  We know that he wins in the end.  And yet, we often struggle to believe that he is with us, or that he will do anything when we cry out to him. 

What if I have to face more than discomfort for my faith and God does not immediately show up?  What if standing for what I know is true costs me pain and suffering – is he still a fortress even then? 

Psalm 46 is an anchor to the truth that God can and must be trusted in the darkest of times.

The other option that many seem to choose is to hide their heads in the sand.  Just live life pretending there is no threat.  How often does the media reinforce the distraction of this perspective? 

Stories get spun so that we think the threat is coming from the opposite direction.  When we have more information than ever before, are we actually growing more numb, and maybe more dumb, the more we watch our screens? 

There could be a genocide taking place all around us, and yet we are trained to have our gaze redirected to Hollywood’s latest newsflash.  Our propensity to hide our heads in the sand is supercharged by the media we lean on so heavily.

When the news stirs fear in you, do not choose distraction and pretend all is well.  Instead, hide in a healthy way – running into the fortress that is our God.  That is, our God, the God of angel armies, the God who has chosen to be with us.

Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. He blogs at Biblical Preaching.




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