CONFIDENCE IN GOD –
A Reflection from Psalm 46 by the Rev. N. Earnest
Life has become uncertain as a result of the tragic turmoil caused by the rapid spread of the Corona virus (Covid-19). Fear, uncertainty, and concern grip our hearts today as we face lock-down conditions, curfews, social distancing, and isolation. There is a desire for stability, harmony, and comfort – both material and physical – in this world of chaos, as well as a need for security for human life.
This yearning is always accompanied by the agonizing awareness that there isn’t anything we can do about it, and we find ourselves powerless, scrambling for answers. We may take preventive and precautionary measures such as wearing masks, remaining indoors, and following all health advisories, but we ultimately understand that several factors are beyond our control.
As a result, having full faith in our attempts to feel safe is challenging.
So, where does our help come from? Who will protect us? Who can we put our confidence in without a reservation? We must turn to the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 46 to find answers to those questions:
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and
though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)
Even in the direst of circumstances, people have faith in God’s presence and influence, according to the Psalmist. God’s ability to be our salvation, His holy presence with His people, His nearness, and His commanding power overall circumstances are all described by the certainty expressed.
Psalm 46 is frequently associated with Martin Luther’s popular hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, which expresses a similar sentiment. Both the Psalm and the hymn serve as a reminder to the church that in times of trial, famine, pestilence, and trouble, people should turn to God for safety, support, and strength.
The people of Israel would honor and thank God for His redemption, deliverance, and wonderful works that He had done for them, according to the Old Testament. People could rely on His faithfulness in the present and future because He had been faithful in the past, regardless of the challenging situations they were facing.
Let’s look at how the theme of faith and confidence in God is revealed in Psalm 46 across each segment of verses.
Refuge and Help
The Psalmist declares God to be the people’s refuge and help in the first three verses (vv. 1-3). The word “refuge” is accompanied by “to us” or “ours,” presenting the Psalm’s core message, “God is our refuge.” The word “refuge” is used figuratively to express the concept of a safe haven, a resting place, and a place where one can feel safe and secure.
As a result, anyone seeking protection and refuge needs to be completely reliant on God. This section contrasts sharply with human nature and behavior in times of adversity, when we rely on or attempt to rely on our power, ability, and reasoning. Refuge can also be associated with happiness, especially for those who seek refuge in God. “Blessed are those who seek refuge in him,” the Psalmist declares (Ps 2:12b). After assuring his readers of God’s ever-present help, the Psalmist goes on to describe the result of that assurance (v. 2).
“We need not fear” because God is a refuge and power, a very present help in trouble (v. 1). As a result, he claims, they will not be afraid of any disasters.
We are now familiar with the devastation caused by extreme disasters like the Corona virus (Covid-19), which has spread across the world.
The Psalmist uses strong words to stress that they will not be shaken by whatever happens for God is their refuge and help. The reassuring reality is that the Bible does not dispute the difficulties and tragedies that humans face on this planet, but it does remind us that we are not alone when we face such calamities. This, too, goes against our human impulses and reactions, leading us to conclude that remaining fearless under such dire circumstances is nearly impossible or impractical.
The question then becomes, “How do we pursue God’s presence in the midst of illness, disorder, and destruction?”
When disaster hits, how can one remain fearless? The Psalmist’s faith is focused solely on God’s near presence and support, not on something remarkable in himself, his nation’s rulers, or the superpowers of his time. The entire Psalm has the same theme of trusting in God’s presence, support, and security for God is their refuge. It also emphasizes God’s existence and friendship with His people, and the Psalmist reveals the secret of his unwavering certainty and faith in God’s presence. The Psalm’s second section (vv. 4-8) starts by proclaiming the blessings of being in God’s presence (v. 4). The river that runs through Jerusalem brings joy to the city of God. In its metaphorical sense, the river denotes blessing, regeneration, harmony, and prosperity, with the river serving as a source of life.
Weary, distressed, and helpless, we need to find fresh waters to heal, bless, and preserve our souls for such a time as this, during tragedy and devastation. The concept of “Peace” is symbolized by this river, which brings life and joy and from which streams of calm waters flow. The rushing (roaring) waters of verses 3 and 4 are contrasted with the gladdening streams of verses 3 and 4. (river).
In verse five, the promise of God’s existence is vividly portrayed. The city will not be shaken or overthrown because He is in Jerusalem. Furthermore, at “the break of dawn,” the Psalmist declares his trust in God’s help. This image often depicts a change in circumstances as well as the immediacy of help and deliverance.
It reminds us that, even in the face of difficult circumstances that seem uncontrollable, strong, and beyond human control, God is still in charge. It is said that the darkness is greatest just before dawn. Even though the world is currently in darkness, God can still bring dawn, life, and hope by allowing His light to shine throughout the world.
The Psalmist goes on to explain the raging of nations and the shifting of kingdoms after explaining the disorder and confusion that has arisen in nature (v. 6). Though nations clash and kingdoms collapse, they are powerless in the face of God, whom the Psalmist has sought refuge (vv. 6-7). God’s voice has power to melt the earth, even as nations rage to bring about mass destruction. As in the creation story (He talked, and things were made (Gen 1:3)), this depicts God’s mighty strength; His words have the power to build and make things new.
In verse 7, the Psalmist draws our attention once more to God’s nearness and the need for aid. He is with us, and He is our safe haven. In this verse, God is mentioned twice. This emphasizes that Jerusalem is secure solely by God’s help and security, not through any other means. The Psalmist comforts his people by reminding them that the Lord is still there for them.
Come and See
The Psalmist proclaims God’s awesome work in ending wars and destroying weapons in the third verse (vv. 8-9). He then reminds people of God’s order to be calm, not panicked. God is supreme over all nations and all of creation (vv. 10-11). An invitation opens this segment (vv. 9-12). After stressing his confidence in God as his ally, the Psalmist invites the reader to “come and see” (v.8). The word “see” may also mean “witness.” In a way, he’s saying, “Come so that you can see the Lord’s works.” This invitation to come and see implies the assurance that He is in complete charge of all matters (v. 9).
This invitation is also related to verse 10’s invitation to “be still.” Another invitation is given in verse 11, for the people to stop trying and realize that “He is God.” The Psalm ends on the same note as verse 8. “The Lord of Hosts is with us; Jacob’s God is our fortress.”
Be Still and Know – I AM God
The Psalm’s final section stresses the importance of knowing the One and Only True God. The verse starts with two commands: “be still,” or “let alone and do nothing.” The task at hand is to “remember,” “recognize,” “admit,” and “confess.” These are the Psalm’s final commands—not a choice or a suggestion, but a command for God’s people to be still and know who God is.
God is depicted as unique in this Psalm, and He is lord over all nations. He reaffirms his faith in God as a refuge who aids and protects His people. It’s a message of hope that inspires people to put their faith in God. The message also encourages people to seek God in all circumstances. God’s being, as a refuge and protector is linked to His relationship with His people. Even in the most tumultuous circumstances, such as the ones we are witnessing around the world today, God’s people will find security and unwavering trust in and through the presence and strength of God.
Confidence concludes that Christ of Nazareth satisfies our deepest longings. Emmanuel, God with us, His love is eternal, and His grace never ceases.
Desire. His love is
Eternal and His Grace is
Emmanuel, God with us.
Our hearts may be filled with pain as we reflect and think about the current situation in the world, read about the chaos and tragic news, but we should have faith in help of our Redeemer. The Psalm concludes with an invitation for meditation and acknowledgment.
As a result, even in times of disturbance, uncertainty, and instability for individuals, communities, and nations, we should be increasingly persuaded of God’s ever-present support. Even in the face of adversity, God’s people must have unwavering confidence.
May the Lord grant us the grace to grow in faith, trust in His power more, and accept Him as Lord in all of life’s circumstances. Amen.
The Rev. N. Earnest serves as a Priest in the Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon, Sri Lanka. For information on how Sri Lanka is faring fighting COVID, you can click here: