Friday, October 28, 2016

Finding True Security: Reading Psalm 46–48 (Part One)

 Psalms 46–48 form a trio of psalms that envision a secure foundation for the life of faith. They focus us as God’s people on the key relationship that guarantees our future. Each psalm serves as a praise to the LORD as the true king of the earth.
Let's begin with Psalm 46:

46 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. Selah

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.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46:1 opens with a bold confession. Our God is an ever-present refuge in times of trouble. Chew on that for a few minutes. God is not wishy-washy. God is not only a god of the good times. The psalmist reminds us that God is dependable and present even in crisis moments when all seems lost. 

Verses 2–3 draw out the full implications of God-given security. We can lay aside our deepest fears. We all fear something. The psalmist however refuses to fear even the undoing of creation. Verses 2–3 describe a scenario in which creation (earth, mountains, sea, and waters) disintegrates. He pictures the catastrophic end of the world. The psalmist proclaims that with God there is always a future no matter what comes. That is true security.

The psalm takes a dramatic shift in verses 4–7. Its focus turns to the security and calm of God’s city: Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, Jerusalem or Zion represented the center of God’s kingdom. In Jerusalem stood the two pillars of God’s presence: the Davidic King or Messiah and the Temple where the glory of the LORD inhabited. Jerusalem was the city of the Great King who reigned through his Messiah and whom the people worshipped in the Temple. These verses describe peace in the midst of the chaos and uproar of the nations. The kingdoms of this world may threaten and practice violent injustice, but the true King serves as a fortress for his people who find refuge in him.

So what does the refuge of God mean for God’s people in a world of chaos and insecurity? This is an important question for us in the 21st century as our world is no less chaotic than it was in the psalmist’s day.

In verses 8–11, God speaks directly to creation including all of the raging nations. It is a portrait of the future kingdom of God when God makes all things new. These verses invite everyone including the raging nations to come and catch a glimpse of God’s abundant and peaceful future. Verse ten brings Ps 46 to a memorable climax with its call to stillness in the midst of the chaos of the present. There is a way to peace and security. It is not war. It is not manifestations of power and rage. Peace and security come from knowing and experiencing God as the exalted Lord and true King. The LORD is our refuge. We can live faithfully as his hands, feet, and mouthpieces in the world because the LORD has secured the future. 

Key Observation: Calmness and security are found in relationship with the true King of Creation—The LORD

Reflect on your deepest fears. How does Psalm 46 invite you to overcome them?

How often do you take time to quite your mind and reflect on the greatness of God? Where in your present life can you create 5-10 minutes to create a daily practice?