Psalm 46 represents the innermost musings of one man of uncertain identity, and therefore we cannot with certainty place its words in a specific historical context. But the passage is rich in imageries. Some are frightening, and others are reassuring. God is on center stage. He is large and in charge. One of the great values of Scripture is that it is alive, and remains the only book which whenever opened, the Author shows up. Not only does He show up, but He shows up in personal and intimate ways that bless our hearts in our particular circumstances. Against this background, let us glean some sheaves from this passage and allow God’s Holy Spirit to apply their messages to our lives.
One of the messages in Psalm 46 is that there will be troubles, trials and tribulation of all types in the general vicinity of the Child of God. Note the words “refuge”, and “trouble” in Psalm 46:1. I know that the obvious focus is that God is our refuge, and because it is obvious, I chose to shift the focus, at least initially, and for good reason. I am never worried about God and about His willingness and ability to be faithful to His promises and to do for us what only He can do. On the other hand, I am always “worried” about us. Will we become weary? Will we faint? Will we become discouraged? All of this is very possible when our experiences do not correspond to our knowledge and expectations. What the Psalmist is saying is that there will be trouble and there will be the need for us to seek refuge in God. With this in mind, we are far more prepared to confront them in the power of God, than if we were not expecting them.
Although we can be sure that much of the language in Psalm 46:2-3 is figurative, we can also agree that none of its contents represent things to which we look forward. I guess the earth giving way would be an earthquake. Those we have seen, or at least heard of. However, the mountains falling into the sea may be a little out of our experience base. We can begin to imagine the roaring and the foaming of the sea… but enough to make the mountains quake? Again, a little beyond our comprehension. But we can agree that these are dreadfully frightening scenarios. And in the worst conceivable and most dreadful scenario imaginable, Psalm 46:2 begins with, “Therefore we shall not fear…”
Then the scene radically changes in Psalm 46:4 from the tumultuous to the serene, as was the case when Jesus awoke from sleep in the middle of the storm and said, “Peace… be still!” And the wind and waves obeyed Him (Mark 4:39).
The differences between a river and a sea are well-known. The river is much smaller, less treacherous and consists of fresh water which can be both refreshing and drinkable. In fact, at the smallest end of a river is a stream, symbolic of peace and quiet and tranquility. This peace and tranquility characterizes the presence of God with His people… but as Psalm 46:6 makes clear, those that oppose God are experiencing a different ide of God.
The overarching message is that God is in control, both of the turmoil and the tranquility. It is in our best interest to take our focus away from all that surrounds us, be still and focus within, and remind ourselves that The God of the universe has selected us to be the object of His mercy, love and favor (Psalm 46:10)
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org