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.
How do these verses remind you of God’s power and reign?
It’s not uncommon to find major cities that have grown up on the banks of a river. Think of London on the Thames, Rome on the Tiber, or Cairo on the Nile. Particularly in dry climates, a river provides a source of fresh water that is necessary for life.
Psalm 46 gives us an image of a city with God as its source of life and protection. The nations outside its walls may be as chaotic and turbulent in their rise and fall as the waves of the sea, but the people of God are safe within his city. God stands over and above even the most powerful empire. He could melt the foundation on which it rests with a word.
Yesterday we considered verses 1–3 and how the image of a churning sea swallowing up the mountains would have been a symbol of chaos and “un-creation” to the ancient Hebrews. In verse 4, we see the menacing seas give way to a powerful, life-giving river directed by God into his holy city. God will not abandon this place. It is here that he makes his home. All those who dwell with him will withstand any attack from the outside.
Verse 7 encourages a feeling of certainty and security by reminding us that Yahweh, Commander of Heaven’s armies, resides with his people. The God of the patriarchs, who made an unbreakable covenant with the Abraham, and his sons Isaac and Jacob, will not fail to keep his promises. And as those in Christ who’ve been grafted into Abraham’s line, we can share in their confidence, because he is our God too. The Lord Almighty is here with us. Imagine the most secure fortress with the thickest and highest walls and the most impenetrable defenses. That is who God is to you. You are safe with him.
At the end of the Bible we are shown another city and another river. Allow this image to sustain you with its promise of God’s faithful presence and ultimate victory over any enemy. John the Revelator is shown a vision of a New Jerusalem:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1)
No matter what calamity we face in this life, our eternal future is secure and it’s going to be more wonderful than we could ever imagine. Know that because of Jesus, come what may, you are safe in the presence of God.
Make a list of any concerns that are occupying your thoughts today. One by one, give them over to God in prayer. Turn Psalm 46:1–2 into prayer from your own heart, “God, you are my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”