When you were a kid, who was the first person you ran to when you needed help or when something scared you and you didn’t know what to do? I hope you had someone who would catch you in their arms and assure you that everything was going to be O.K.
Even as adults, we can sometimes long for that same assurance, because there are times when life feels out of control, when the bad guys seem to be winning, or when we’re in such a mess that we don’t know where to turn. We can feel helpless to address the problems in our own lives, much less the suffering we see in others. With so much wrong in the world, to whom can we turn? Psalm 46 shows us that God will always be a source of strength and comfort.
If, like me, you sometimes struggle with worry and fear, this might be your favorite psalm on our Psalms Playlist.
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “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 Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
What feeling is this Psalm meant to convey?
What assurances does it give?
When someone is sick, they need a doctor. While they could find people who would be kind and offer sympathy, without medical training, those good intentions only go so far. When people need help, they need someone with the ability to help them.
On the other hand, there is nothing more frustrating and heartbreaking than going to someone who has the power to help, but won’t. In recent protests around the nation, many African Americans have insisted that not only have they been denied help, but they have been hurt by some of the people and institutions who were supposed to provide it. Power and authority need to be coupled with the will to use them for the good.
When it comes to God, Psalm 46 assures us that God both cares about our plight and is able to do something about it. He is our refuge and our help. With arms wide open, he welcomes us to shelter in his strength. He will use his mighty power to protect us in a place of peace and safety. There is nothing and no one who can stand against our Lord. He is our fortress.
If you find yourself worrying this week, whether it’s over the state of our country, or the state of your own life, let Psalm 46 speak directly to your soul and turn to God for strength and help.
Psalm 46 is worth reading out loud. You may want to take some time to do so. In an attitude of prayer, turn it into proclamation and praise.
You may also want to memorize verses 1–2, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” Write this down and put it somewhere you will see it frequently. Make it the screen saver on your computer or phone. Repeat it several times a day, especially when a worry or fear crosses your mind.