Sunday Devotional 28th August 2022
by Bruce Billington
We are continuing to explore the knowledge of God as expressed in the Psalms. This week we will look at Psalm 46, from the sons of Korah.
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
The fear of mountains or cities suddenly crumbling into the sea as the result of an earthquake, or other such climatic conditions haunts many people today. It has been a way to common experience lately.
But the writer of this Psalm says that even if the world seemed to be collapsing, we need not fear. In the face of utter destruction, the writer expressed a quiet confidence in God’s ability to save His people. The Bible is clear, God is our refuge even amid total destruction. He is not merely a temporary retreat; He is our eternal refuge and can provide strength in any circumstance. Charles Spurgeon expresses this wonderfully.
He has been tried and proved by his people. He never withdraws himself from his afflicted. He is their help, truly, effectually, constantly; he is present or near them, close at their side and ready for their succour, and this is emphasized by the word very in our version, he is more present than friend or relative can be, yea, more nearly present than even the trouble itself. To all this comfortable truth is added the consideration that his assistance comes at the needed time. He is not as the swallows that leave us in the winter; he is a friend in need and a friend indeed. When it is very dark with us, let brave spirits say, “Come, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm.”
God alone is our all in all. All other refuges are refuges of lies, all other strengths are weaknesses when compared to the power that belongs to God alone. As His people we have access to this power, making our defence and might more than equal to all situations.
Most of us have at least occasionally, wondered what we would do if a great tragedy occurred in our lives. For some, this would be the death of a spouse or perhaps the loss of a child. For others, it would be a diagnosis of cancer or the loss of mental capacity. For yet others it would be a fire or some other catastrophic natural disaster. Such things seem unbearable from a distance or when all things are well.
Yet this incredible Psalm was written during a time of overwhelming turmoil in Jerusalem. The mighty Assyrian Empire, which far outnumbered and overpowered the Jewish people, had martialled their troops and were coming to destroy the city and all who were in it.
At some point in our lives, most of us will face circumstances that we feel are more than we can handle. We will know the hollow, helpless feeling of being able to do nothing to overcome our situation. The Lord has given us Psalm 46 for these times. This great psalm was the inspiration for Martin Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
When in such times as these the first response is to confess the Lord God to be your refuge and strength (vv. 1–3). Exploring a few of these words in the original Hebrew language adds more impact than most English translations.
The Hebrew word for refuge is machaceh. It is a shelter or place where we can hide for protection. The word for strength (oz) speaks of the power that God gives us to endure and overcome adversity. The Hebrew word for trouble (tsarah) literally means a narrow or tight place where a person is unable to move. It is also used to describe severe pressure.
So here we can say that when we face situations that seem beyond our control, we do not have to face them alone. When trouble strikes, God is present. The Psalmist says that He is very present help. This word (mehode) indicates that He is exceedingly or speedily present. Not even for one second do we have to face our troubles alone, or in our own strength.
If we truly embrace this, we will discover that disasters that may shake the earth, or our lives to the core, cannot shake us when we take refuge in the Lord.
There is much more comfort to come from this Psalm so be sure to join us again next week.
God bless you.