Psalm 46: Blessings of God’s Presence

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

China Pink Dianthus-2 | Mercer Botanical Garden | March 2023

It may be your favorite grandchild, best friend, closest neighbor, or your spouse. But for most people there is someone whose presence you truly desire. He lifts your spirits. She grounds your dreams. She offers grace. He understands. Warm fuzzies abound. Great comfort wraps you like a warm blanket on a chilly Saturday morning.

We might not think of God in quite that way – and rightly so. God’s presence is more far-reaching than a warm blanket or your favorite softie. The picture here is of God’s protective presence against the onslaughts of life, death, threat, or danger. I see children running into their parents’ room in the middle of the night after a loud crash of thunder. They want the comfort of their parents’ protective presence. So should we want the comfort of God’s protective presence.

More often we ask for the dangers to be removed and the threats to abate. More often we seek to find places of peaceful living in the face of the world’s crazy and fearsome threats. Sometimes we become so used to the threats and dangers of the world, we don’t notice the fierce dangers surrounding us.

I’m not a Chicken Little. I seldom run around saying the sky is falling. In fact, I’m everyone else in that story after hearing of the dangers for the 10th time, I’m numbed. The constant threat warnings become so much white noise. I chalk it up to fear mongering. They’re overreacting I think. It’s not that bad. We’ll be fine.

But then the threats become real.

  • The diagnosis is grave and the prognosis is fraught with challenges. The treatments have horrific potential side effects.
  • The slip is pink and you don’t know where you can possibly land.
  • The bed is empty where the spouse should be and you don’t know if you’ve lost your mate to another.
  • There is no word from a teenage daughter who has threatened to run away for the past 4 months.
  • You discover drug paraphernalia in your son’s room.
  • You see your life savings evaporate in a maelstrom of economic chaos and you don’t know if you’ll be able to stay in your home for more than a month.

God’s protective presence and his help are so very precious in those moments. And as the time unfolds and the diagnosis proves true and the prognosis worsens, and the bed stays empty, and the phone does not ring, and the sullenness of drugs’ stupor does not abate, two things become ever more clear.

  1. We live in a fallen world where, as Jesus says, we will have trouble.
  2. God’s presence is precious.

We’re all looking for paradise. We want to live in a garden of God’s favor and delight. We yearn for his true grace and goodness. We yearn for God himself to be present. This psalm points us to God. And 1500 years later God would speak through the Apostle John with this promise:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4

This is our truest need and God’s gracious blessing.

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