Psalm 46: True Security

Psalm 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

Bee on a Yellow Flower-2 | Mercer Botanical Garden | March 2023

There are beautiful stained glass windows that honor Cpl George N. Holmes Jr., a young United States Marine who was killed in the failed rescue attempt of the Iran hostages in 1980. You can see those windows only when you are leaving the sanctuary. There are also windows high above the altar of the church. These windows allow light to come into the space. But they are not visible except from right under the large cross hanging above the altar. Some have called the sanctuary a tomb. Others have called it a fortress. When viewed from the outside it appears to be a large and formidable entity – almost as though it could bowl over anyone in its way. In so many ways that building was a mighty fortress.

I served Trinity Lutheran Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas from 1983-1993. It was my desire that the church would be a refuge for hurting people and a place of celebration of God’s faithfulness, goodness, grace, and love. That’s my wish for any church. My idea of the church is less that of a fortress, and more of a place of light, joy, celebration, and grace.

Sometimes, though, we need a place of refuge. Wars rage. Kingdoms are shaken. Troubles loom. Enemies threaten. This psalm is for those times. And God is our place of refuge, safety, comfort, and help.

Too often we look to other helpers. FDIC bails out banks. Fire insurance covers catastrophic losses. Well-diversified stock portfolios keep our retirement accounts safe. Masks keep out pollen. Airbags keep us from crashing through the windshield. We alarm our homes. Many have firearms at the ready for personal security. We have so many safety valves, contingency plans, fall-back positions, and security blankets. I have them all. But I wonder whether we’ve so complicated our lives that we lose God in all the clutter and protections we have gathered around us.

I’m not saying we should throw away all these things, but I wonder whether we should lean on God more fully, and not just as a last resort. Shouldn’t God be our first line of defence? He is our true refuge and strength. He is ever present. We can depend on his help in tough situations.

I’m trying to understand what that means for me today. When I hear of a friend’s severe and life-threatening illness, I turn to God in prayer in his behalf. When I struggle with guilt and shame over past sins and current temptations, I turn to God, rather than running away from him. When I see that I have no power to overcome obstacles to good things God wants me to do, I seek his help. When I sputter in my prayers, I take refuge in his promise that he will not snuff out a smoldering wick (cf. Isaiah 42:3).

The world sees God as an interloper, an intrusion, and a killjoy. All they see is the outward formidable expression of God’s refuge and strength. Those of us who are inside that refuge, know it to be a place of beauty, joy, life, comfort, and true security.

May be an image of outdoors

Trinity Lutheran Church | Pine Bluff, Arkansas

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