- 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.
- “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
- The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
The words and message of Psalm 46 are very comforting and reassuring in these days of uncertainty and chaos which we are experiencing throughout the world due to the Coronavirus.
Just a few weeks ago the Lord ministered to me as I mediated upon this Psalm and in return I was exercised to preach from it at Straid Congregational Church on Sunday 1st March.
The following are some thoughts from the Psalm which I trust will help us in these troublesome times:
As highlighted above three “Selahs” divide the Psalm into three sections of almost equal size. In fact Selah means to pause, to stop and reflect on what has been said or sung. Each section has clear messages which help us make sense of times of trouble and situations which are out of our control or which we do not fully understand. It is worthwhile taking some time to stop and pause and think what God would want to say to us today in this Psalm.
Verses 1-3 speaks of the power of God and of God as our refuge. In the first verse the Psalmist assures that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. A number of years ago a Pastor brought comfort to my wife Lorraine through this verse after the death of her sister who died under tragic circumstances. He said to note that God is: “… a very present help in trouble”, and is always available, accessible, adequate and able. Over the subsequent years since, we have found that to be true.
The word “Trouble” in verse 1 means “tight places”. There is no doubt that many find themselves in tight places even prior to the Coronavirus Pandemic. In verses 2-3 the Psalmist describes chaotic circumstances that the Lord will see us through. He states: “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”.
On the 12th March the British Prime Minister announced to folk in the UK that: "many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time”. He went on to say that the world was now facing "the worst public health crisis in a generation."
On the 17th March, normally a day of celebration in Ireland, Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, in a speech made in Washington said: “This is a Saint Patrick’s Day like no other. A day that none of us will ever forget. Today’s children will tell their own children and grandchildren about the national holiday in 2020 that had no parades or parties… but instead saw everyone staying at home to protect each other. …….We are in the midst of a global and national emergency – a pandemic – the likes of which none of us has seen before.”
As we pause as believers in the Lord Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour and think about what the Psalmist has written in this section we can get great comfort as we face a future unknown to us. We need not fear or fret with the knowledge that God has promised to be a very present help in times of trouble.
Verses 4-7 speaks of the presence of God and of God as a river. God has an ever running supply for the believer. We can drink from His reserves and reservoir. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, God is in the midst of her”. We can draw our resources from our triune God … a constantly running river even in the midst of difficult times. In the Bible God the Father is set before us as a fountain of living water, God the Son is set before us as a well of living water and God the Holy Spirit is set before us as a river of living water.
We have God’s presence and God’s supply. This reminded me of a song we used to sing at the church I attended a number of years ago:
There is a river and it flows from deep within
There is a fountain that frees the soul from sin
Come to this water
There is a vast supply
There is a river that never shall run dry
Again as we pause to think what God would be saying to us in this section we can take courage in these difficult days acknowledging God is in control, He is present and we have a constant spiritual supply to meet our every need.
Verses 8-11 speaks of God's peace and of God as our ruler. In verse 10 we are encouraged to: “Be still, and know that I am God”. What peace and what comfort. In the midst of all that is going on around us God is in control. Who is this God: He is: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress”. A God of power and a God of patience. As Lord of hosts He is the one in charge of the universe. He spoke this vast universe into existence and rules over the billions of stars and planets. And yet He is the God of Jacob, the supplanter, the deceiver and makes him into Israel. This is the God of Might but He is also the God of Mercies. He is a Great God but He is also a Gracious God.
As we pause to reflect on this section we do so in the knowledge that in these days of trial, testing and trouble, He is our salvation, our safety, our strength, our security and our sanctuary.
Recently our OMS President Bob Fetherlin and his wife Esther visited the UK. While there they learned that due to the Coronavirus situation the USA were stopping flights in and out of the country, so they had to cancel part of their visit and return to the States. After his return he sent a general note out to our missionary family. One of the things he said which I really liked was as follows: "‘I’ve read many reflections on the current situation in which we find ourselves, but particularly appreciated: “The latest data on the spread of the coronavirus has come in, and the results are clear: 100% of the earth is still under God’s dominion.”’ He concluded his message by quoting the following hymn written by one of my favourite hymn writers Frances Havergal in 1876:
Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.
Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully, all for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.
Do take comfort and courage from the following words of this beautiful Psalm: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”. And: “Be still, and know that I am God”.
OMS Ireland Field Leader