PSALM 46 (NRSV)
1.“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3. though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
4. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
5. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.
6. The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. (Selah)
8. Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolation he has brought on the earth,
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
9. He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10. Be still and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.
11. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Selah)
Psalm 46 is a spiritual gem for troubled times like ours. Its spiritual wisdom inspired Martin Luther during the turbulent Reformation times to compose the reassuring hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” extolling God abiding faithfulness.
In his book The Seeds of Faith, Jeremy Langford defines spirituality as “the discipline of putting one’s hope and trust in God.” I find these qualities powerfully expressed in Psalm 46:1. The Psalmist (David?) does not experience God as some aloof, indifferent, impotent deity, but as the one true God who is readily present to us,compassionately offering us God’s strengthening power, be it in the face of the ravages of natures (v. 2-3), the tumults of war (v. 9) or the fears of a raging virus. God is abundantly ready to provide us with such helpful blessings as guidance, reassurance, and resilience for the living of our days. As the refrain (Selah, vs. 7 &11) remind us, God is forever with us.
Verse 10 elicits a challenge for us, a challenge to “Be still and know that I am God.” God’s deepest desire is to draw close and abide with us. But that can only happen when you and I seek to be openly receptive to God. Through prayer and other spiritual disciplines, we need to take time to be still and humbly make room in our hearts for God. Like the prophet Elijah (I Kings 19:1) we need to remember the necessity of listening to God’s still voice in order to confidently place our hope and trust in God as our refuge and strength.
Ever present and abiding God, in our busy, noisy lives help us in hopeful trust to take the time to be still and to rest in your loving and powerful presence. Grant us grateful hearts and teachable spirits that we may gain insights into what it means to live as your faithful servants. May we discover anew this Lent the blessing of living in the fullness of your grace each day.
Rev. Dan Thomas, Jr.