God, our refuge and strength – Part 2
Text: Psalm 46:1 – “God Is Our Refuge And Strength, An Ever-Present Help In Trouble.”
The Text of Psalm 46
Psalm 46 is closely related thematically to Psalm 48 (see also 76, 87) and Psalm 47, which celebrate God’s victorious rule over all the earth. Psalm 46 verses 1-3 makes the point that our security is in God, certainly not in any outward phenomena. There is a firm anchorage in God, while all else is insecure. God is the eternal Rock of ages; all other ground is sinking sand. In spite of the threatening powers of destruction leading to calamitous changes on earth; the mountains collapsing into the sea; the waters of the sea roaring and foaming, etc. God is our protection, our refuge and strength, readily available to help in all sorts of trouble that may confront us.
Our world has known great evils. Consider the magnitude of evil unleashed upon the world by the first and second world wars; the Holocaust inclusive; the cold war with all its extreme behaviours by the East and West and their impact upon humans and the animal world; the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Sudanese war, the Nigerian civil war, the Arab Israeli wars; the Hutus and the Tusti of Rwanda, Kosovo, the Persian Gulf war, the Iraqi war; consider also the terrorist attack on the world Trade Centre, in New York (9/11) and the activities of terrorists in Nigeria, notably Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen, for some years now.
The Psalm (verses 4-7) gives us assurance of the indestructible city of God. But this fact depends on our faith in God, not in our understanding or safety arrangements all around us. “No matter what rage and fury is evident in the world, all is so controlled by the sovereign God that it becomes a fair stream for the benefit of His city and people. This passage emphasises a fundamental spiritual truth, that the presence of God means peace and security – whether in an individual life, in the family or nation.
This Psalm (verses 8-11) summons all to consider the works of the Lord, noting that God’s miraculous deeds are all too clear to be doubted. His enemies are losers in the battle; His power has brought cessation of hostilities; this is a foreshadow of the future, when the Messiah shall introduce His Kingdom of everlasting peace. The Lord is God; let all men cease trying to challenge His sovereignty. God is with us.
Fear – A Key Result Of The Fall
The purpose of Psalm 46 could be said to be creating faith in God’s providence as the antidote to the problem of fear. In the beginning, before sin entered and caused chaos, man enjoyed uninhibited fellowship with God. In that sinless era, there was no fear, there was nothing to cause fear, and in fact, fear did not exist. Fear as a factor came with sin. It was after the man and his wife sinned that they knew fear for the first time. The Bible says: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3:8-10). Since the Fall, fear has lived with man. Jesus Christ said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). The rest promised here is, however, not absolute because of existential factors that engender fear, which may have to do with fear of the powers of darkness, failing health, economic crises, unknown future, etc.
(Culled from THE OPENING ADDRESS by His Grace, The Most Rev’d Nicholas D. Okoh, MA, Fss, Mss, LLD, DD.; Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate Of All Nigeria to The Standing Committee of the Church Of Nigeria held in the Cathedral Church of St Peter Minna from September 17 to 21, 2018)
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