Psalm 46 celebrates God. Most psalms do, but this one celebrates Him as our “refuge and strength.” Think about that. Most of the time, when we think of refuge, we think of a place. It is the place where we GO when everything around us has gone topsy turvy. But Psalm 46 puts forward a person rather than a place. Oh there is talk of the city of God, but it is mentioned because the person of God dwells there. So what are we to do in the midst of a storm when our shelter is not a place, but a person? Psalm 46:10 seems to be telling us our refuge is not a place where we are to GO, but rather a person we are to KNOW.
Wednesday, October 16th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Psalm 46
Focused Passage for Reflection - Psalm 46:10
Reflecting on the Text:
“Be still.” We’ve heard that command since we were children. We’ve given it to our own children. Yet many of us struggle with these simple two words. As I sit to write, a piece of machinery is making a racket outside my door, so my thoughts wander. At other times, the silence is deafening. And still, my thoughts wander. At times, stillness has everything to do with physical activity. At others, it has more to do with our mental state. Mostly, I find it has to do with distractedness. How about you?
In Psalm 46, the psalmist celebrates God as our refuge, our strength, and our help in trouble. He then goes on to speak of the earth giving way, mountains trembling, waters roaring, and nations raging. Yet with all of that tumult, he declares “we will not fear.” The psalmist rests this declaration of fearlessness on the presence of the LORD of hosts. I trust his word, but as I read the psalm I think maybe we lose something in translation when we merely speak of the LORD of hosts.
Martin Luther wrote his famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God” based on Psalm 46. Instead of the LORD of hosts, Luther used the name of God: Lord Sabaoth. It is the name of God used to refer to Him as the head of angel armies. This name seems to carry more weight. Next to Lord Sabaoth, the roaring waters and raging nations lose their fear factor. But we still go back to the question of what to do when our fortress is a person. We can’t run inside and close the gate behind us when things get scary. So how do we find refuge?
Verse 10 tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The rest of the psalm is written from the perspective of the psalmist. This verse is spoken by God Himself. He is telling us to BE STILL and KNOW HIM. This is His answer in how to find refuge.
I am finding more and more that I need these words daily. I am finding it harder and harder to be still. For the psalmist, and maybe for you, this call came in the midst of some type of external threat. At times the threat came from nature. At times it came from an enemy. Which is it for you? Is it a difficult relational situation? Is it a physical illness or disease causing you distress? The psalmist tells us that the Lord Sabaoth is on our side. He is our refuge and strength. Be still and know Him.
For some of us though, this call to be still is set against an army of distractions. Social media, my retirement account, my children’s future, and my dinner plans all have a way of destroying any hope I have of a quiet time. My prayer life is distracted, and my conversation with my spouse is interrupted by my wandering mind. What hope do I have with this raging storm inside my head?
I have the hope of the Lord Sabaoth, my refuge, my strength, and my fortress. That doesn’t mean it is easy to be still. But that simple command is precisely what I need to hear, easy or not. Now more than ever we need to be still before the Lord. We need to listen to Him. We need to know Him, and in knowing Him we find our Person of refuge.
Questions for personal reflection:
What gets in the way of your being still and knowing that the Lord is God? Are your distractions external or internal?
What practical measures could you take to distance yourself from distraction so you can be still before the Lord and listen? (Think in terms of putting away the phone, waking up 30 minutes earlier, etc.)
What prayer measures could you take to distance yourself from distraction so you can be still before the Lord and listen?