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Psalm 46 of the Bible offers Christians a source of refuge and strength in God during times of testing and crisis. Through prayer, diving into His Word, and allowing for the Holy Spirit's guidance, believers can access God's grace which enables them to overcome any adversity. His help is ever-present, swift, and sufficient to empower us as we face life challenges. Psalm 46 encourages us not to be swayed or moved by our circumstances but rather seek solace from a secure source who has ultimate control over every situation.
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Well, I want to take you to God’s word this morning. We’re going to turn our attention to several psalms over the next few Sundays that I think would be an encouragement to you. If you look at the book of Psalms, there are several genres. There are several categories, or kinds of psalms. There are Psalms of Thanksgiving, where God is praised, and thanked for his kindness. There are psalms of lament, both nationally and individually as people mourn over their own sin, or lawlessness within society. There are psalms of enthronement about Davidic kings, and the kings of Israel. There are Messianic psalms, where these Psalms anticipate the coming King, the greater David who will come, our Lord Jesus Christ. And then there are psalms of trust or affirmations of faith, and I want to take those psalms over the next few weeks, we’re going to look at several of them in a little series I’ve called Statements of Faith.
We’re going to look at one of those this morning, Psalm 46, I think my friend Mark Hitchcock told me that every Friday at DTS, when Dr. Louis Barry Schaeffer spoke to the students on a Friday, as they went out to preach all over America, that particular weekend, he would say to them, “Go out, and give the people something to believe in.” I love that. “Go out, and give the people something to believe in.”
And so that’s what’s kind of driven me to look at two or three or four of these psalms, statements of faith, affirmations of trust in God, expressions of confidence with God in the midst of trying circumstances. And this morning we’re going to look at Psalm 46. Tom already read it a little earlier, but I’m going to reread it. I invite you to take your Bible with your family, or your friends and open it, and invite you to have your notebook nearby, and start to study with me this wonderful psalm, a psalm I’ve entitled, When Life Falls Apart. When Life Falls Apart.
Listen to God’s word as we find it in Psalm 46. “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, though it’s waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. There is a river whose stream shall make glad the city of God. The Holy Place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved. He uttered his voice. The earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
“Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolation in the earth. He makes wars to cease, to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in two. He burns the chariot in the fire. ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
When Life Falls Apart. Psalm 46. On Thursday I went to the Chick-fil-A on Tustin Avenue to have some lunch. I took my Bible with me, and a few books, and after a visit to the restroom, I come back, and I find a napkin sitting on top of my Bible. Someone had left it there, and on the napkin were written these words, “Psalm 46.” I think some kind soul wanted to encourage me. They saw my Bible, assumed I was a believer perhaps in Jesus Christ, and they left me an anonymous message, Psalm 46.
I think they were sent to me, “You know what? During this time of testing and crisis, during this time of anxiety among our nation, we as Christians, we as followers of Jesus Christ should turn to Psalm 46.” We should remember that we have a refuge and strength, and a very present help in time of trouble. We should not be moved in the midst of these circumstances. We should be still, and know that God is in control. Things may be out of control, people’s emotions may be out of control, but God has got it all under control. There’s no panic in Heaven, only plans.
Psalm 46, it is a good message to me, and to you, and to our nation. This is a psalm of refuge and throughout church history, it has been a refuge to God’s people in crisis. Martin Luther, in the midst of the Reformation, the stresses and the strains of leading this movement, martyrs were increasing. Sometimes funds were low. Threats hung over Martin Luther’s head, along with his wife Katie, and often he would say to his friends and family, “Come, let us sing Psalm 46.”
After 9/11, I believe in a conversation on the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary, a student was talking to Dr. Dwight Pentecost, and he was asking him what his thoughts were in the midst of this crisis. And Dr. Dwight Pentecost said, “My thoughts are this. Psalm 46, Psalm 46.” And so, I want us to turn to Psalm 46, one of the psalms of affirmation, one of the psalms of confidence, one of the psalms of trust in God.
We can break this psalm down into three stanzas. It does that naturally itself. In verses one to three, the people of God are told not to fear. In verses four to seven, the people of God are told not to faint, and in verses eight through 11, the people of God are told not to fuss. Despite the menace of natural calamity, despite the menace of physical enemies, the people of God were told not to fear, not to faint, not to fuss. Why? Because God was a present help. Why? Because God was a sufficient provider. Why? Because God was a glorious Warrior. He strengthens His people when they’re weak. He provides for His people when they’re needy, and He fights for His people when they’re under attack.
Now, before we look at the text, let’s put the text in its context. I would say the balance of commentators, the majority of Bible scholars, placed this psalm in the historical context of the invasion of Judah by the Assyrians. That puts us around 701 BC. King Hezekiah is on the throne in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. King Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, has swept across the Mediterranean world. 20 years earlier, he had invaded the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and captured Samaria, and carted off some 200,000 Israelis into exile. And now he was hunting for Judea.
It’s 701 B.C., the nation’s in crisis. If you read about this in 2 Kings 18 and 19, you’ll read that some of the Assyrian soldiers gathered before the gates of the city of Jerusalem, and before the walls, that were manned by the city’s defenders, and they would taunt them that they were soon going to be captured, that their God would never be able to rescue them. We know from the biblical text that Hezekiah goes before the Lord that evening, and spreads the matter before the Lord. He doesn’t panic. He prays. And amazingly, it says in the Biblical text that that night God sent an angel of the Lord, and destroyed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. And by the morning, by the break of dawn, Judah is rescued, Sennacherib heads north, with his tail between his legs, later to be assassinated by his own two sons.
I think that’s the context. And given the context of that psalm, which is a context of political uncertainty, physical danger, and psychological warfare, wouldn’t we do well as a people to turn to this psalm in the midst of this Corona crisis? In the midst of a time in America’s history where our own president has declared a national emergency? We would do well to learn, and live Psalm 46.
So let’s come and look at this wonderful passage of Scripture that’s been a refuge for God’s saints across history. The first thought is, don’t fear. When life falls apart, don’t fear. During this challenging time in the life of the nation, the challenge goes out not to fear. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help and trouble. Therefore, we will not fear. They weren’t to live on their nerves, they were to live by faith. They were live trusting in God, despite the instability, despite the insecurity surrounding them, they were not to panic.
I think it was Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones who defined faith as a refusal to panic. I love that. Faith is a refusal to panic. It doesn’t mean that fifth wouldn’t be prudent, it just means that faith won’t panic. And the psalmist would agree. “Therefore, we will not fear.” Now let’s look at two things, what I call the context, and what I call the confidence. We have already painted in the historical background. We’re in 2 Kings 18, 19. We’re dealing with the invasion from Assyria, and Kings Sennacherib from the north. It’s a time of crisis and chaos and psalmist describes it in poetic language. He speaks of shaking earthquakes, and surging floods. Did you notice that? Look at verse two. “Therefore we will not fear, though,” this is the circumstance of the context, “Though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
This is the language of chaos, and instability. This is the language of earthquakes, and surging floods. Now we’re all too well aware of earthquakes here on the West Coast. I think there’s not a California citizen alive who hasn’t tasted one of those. And you know how upsetting they can be, and how insecure one can feel, because when an earthquake comes, everything shakes, everything moves. You have absolutely no sense of stability, or security, because the very ground under your feet is rippling, and moving, and shaking, and that causes within us a great state of panic. And that’s the kind of language here. Mountains falling into the sea, something in the measure of an earthquake.
In fact, Alex [inaudible] says this, “The Psalm depicts the undoing of the work of Creation, the land going back under the waters.” Which is a reverse by the way of Genesis one verse nine. How interesting. That’s a really interesting thought. What the psalmist is depicting here is the un-creating of the Creation. How scary is that? A time of instability, a time of insecurity. That’s how the situation felt to the people of Judea. Life was falling apart. The present was perilous. The future foreboding.
In fact, look at verse one, “God is our refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble.” Just circle the word trouble. The Hebrew is, tight spot. It speaks of a confined space. It’s a sense of being suffocated by your circumstances. And you know what? Suffocation, short of breath, panic, fear. It’s almost like a panic attack, as things begin to close in. That’s our word.
They’re surrounded by their enemies. The Assyrian surge has shaken them to the core. There’s a political and circumstantial earthquake going on. Let me put it like this. The Assyrians were knocking on the door of the city, and fear was knocking on the door of their hearts. And I think we can identify with that, and none of us, even the best of us, is beyond the reach of anxiety, or panic, or fear. We can allow things outside of us to upset our state inside of us, and we can become fearful, and afraid.
I like the story of the little boy who was afraid of the dark, and one night his mother asked him to fetch a broom that was outside on the back porch. And he said, “Mom, you know I don’t like the dark. I don’t want to go out there. I’m afraid.” And the mother trying to calm the little boy’s nerve said, “You know what? Jesus is out there. You don’t have to be afraid. He’ll protect you.” Little boy responded, “Are you sure He is out there?” Mother said, “I’m absolutely sure. He’s everywhere.” And so, the little boy opens the door, and he shout out, “Jesus, if you’re out there, would you please hand me the broom?”
And you know what? It’s kind of funny, but in some sense we can identify with that, and perhaps the solution to our fears and our anxieties is to get a sense that Jesus is out there. That He’s in the darkness, that He’s with us in the circumstances. So, we move from the context to what I call the confidence. The confidence. “Therefore, we will not fear though,” okay? We’re not going to fear the circumstances that are shaking us, because the Lord is our refuge, and strength, and very present help in trouble.
The good news is that God’s people can remain unshaken in unsettling times, because they can take refuge, and shelter in God. God is their hiding place. God is their helping hand. And you know this language of refuge, and shelter, and fortress, you’ll find it throughout the Psalms. Let me give you a couple of other examples. What about Psalm 18 verse one? “I will love you, oh Lord, my strength, the Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my strength, in whom I will trust. My shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised. So shall I be saved from my enemies.”
One other example would be Psalm 91. I may even look at this psalm later on in our series. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge, and my fortress, God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence.” God’s people, during this time, and in subsequent times have find God to be their refuge. They have sheltered beneath the truth of His omnipresence, His omniscience, His omnipotence.
In fact, the word here is stronghold. God is their stronghold. A couple of years ago I was back home, and I decided to visit Carrickfergus Castle. It’s a Norman castle just outside Belfast, to its north. I’d been to it many times. In fact, an interesting footnote is it was built by a John De Courcy. It may be the time in which the De Courcy name entered into Irish history. He was a Norman Knight, and he built these fortifications. It’s right there along the Belfast Lock, and I had been to it several times. It’s a fairly large castle, high walls. It’s got windows in those walls for cannons which were strategically placed along the walls.
But this time, in this visit, I was reminded that within the castle, was another castle. It’s what’s called the keep, or the stronghold. And if you look at castles, you’ll see this kind of tower within the walls of the castle, and that’s known as the keep. And its walls are thicker, and its windows are fewer, and that’s where the last stand would take place. It was the most secure place within the castle, and the sons of Korah are reminding us that God is our keep, that God is our stronghold, that His kingdom has never been conquered, His throne has never been toppled, His rule has never been truly challenged.
You and I need to find our confidence there. That’s where our confidence is, so that though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, and the waters roar, and be troubled, and the mountains swell with a shaking thereof, we will not fear, because God is our help, and God is our hiding place. In fact, let me drill into that. As I looked at that, three things suggested themselves to me about God’s help. Write these down, meditate them, talk about them in your small gatherings as families, or friends.
Number one, God’s help is strong. The help that we are being offered as we find God as our hiding place, it’s strong help. Notice, God is our keep. God is our stronghold, and strength. We go to him not to escape life, but to find grace to become more than conquerors in the midst of life. As we hold up in God’s presence, as we seek Him in prayer, as we dive into His Word, as we allow the comfort of the Holy Spirit to minister to us in the midst of prayer, and worship, and the study of the word, we will find that God will strengthen us. God will enable us.
Wars are not won by evacuations. When we read here, “God is our refuge.” You don’t want to read into that, that they are running from life. They are running to God to find strength, to go back to life, and live it calmly, and confidently. Let me read Warren Wiersbe, very helpful here, in a sermon on Psalm 46. “God hides us, that he might help us, and then he thrusts us back into the battle, that we might accomplish His will in the world. God does not hide us to pamper us, but to prepare us. He strengthens us, that He might use us.” This is a great time in the life of Kindred Community Church. While out of prudence, we’re not gathering in large numbers, seek God. Hide in God as families, as friends, and find His strength, and grace to respond appropriately, and bravely, and boldly to this situation. To act in faith, not fear.
Number two, God’s help is not only strong, it’s sufficient. Notice what the Bible says. God is a very present help in trouble, in a tight spot, in a confined set of circumstance. God is a very present help, literally in the Hebrew, an exceedingly available help. How nice is that an exceedingly available help, or a help in troubles, He is to be fined abundantly. It’s another way to read it literally, a help in troubles, He is found to be abundantly. Here’s the point. Our needs will never outstrip His help. Our needs will never outstrip His help. He’s an exceedingly available, and abundant help.
I like what Alan Ross says in his commentary, on Psalm 46. Let me read this. “The term help is no wise demeaning to God. Rather it depicts him as the All Sufficient One. But stating that God is a help is much more forceful than saying that God helps people. It indicates that He is so abundantly able to help people, that He is what help is all about. He’s help. He defines what help is. He’s a sufficient help. He’s a sustaining help. His help will never let you down, and your need will never outstrip His ability to come to your rescue.”
I’m probably like you. You’ll find out that as you’ve gone to some of our supermarkets, I was out there yesterday, as you know, my wife is laid up, and she’s punishing me by sending me out to get the groceries. I’m way out of my comfort zone. In fact, I’m met a dear woman in our church in Villa Park the other day, in the Ralph’s and I was going around like a lost soul, trying to find where this was, and that was, and this dear lady helped me find the washing powder, and all of that nonsense. But here’s the point. I was out yesterday again trying to get certain necessities, water, soup, bread, you name it, the shelves are empty. And you know what? No doubt they’ll be replenished. But at that moment in my need, they were unable to help, because they have limited resources.
That’s not true of God. We will never outstrip, in our need, God’s ability to help. He’s a very present help. He’s an available, and an abundant help. He is help itself. You can’t define help better than Almighty God, where all the attributes of the Almighty are at our disposal. Perhaps that’s why David in Psalm 23 says, what? “The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.” Verse one, and in verse four, “I will not fear,” because the Lord, the All Sufficient One, the Everliving One, the Eternal One, the one who lacks nothing will make sure within His will, for His glory, that His people lack nothing either.
You’ve heard me tell you the story of the little girl who got nervous quoting her memory verse, which was Psalm 23 verse one, and once she got up, nerves got the better of her. She said, “The Lord is my shepherd. He’s all I want.” Now, it was a wrong quotation, but it was a right interpretation. That’s exactly what Psalm 23 verse one is intended to convey. The Lord is our shepherd, and given the fact that He’s all will ever need, we shall not want.
In fact, think about Psalm 23 in the context of fear. Maybe this will help. Do you fear poverty? You shouldn’t, because the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Do you fear loneliness? You shouldn’t. For the Lord is with you. Do you fear a nervous breakdown? You shouldn’t. He will make you to lie down in green pastures, beside the still waters. Do you fear falling into a terrible sin? You shouldn’t. His rod and His staff will comfort and protect you.
Do you fear making a bad judgment? You shouldn’t. He leads you along the right path. Do you fear life, death and eternity? You shouldn’t, because you shall dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Now God’s help is strong. It equips us to meet life as we find it, even when life falls apart. God’s help is sufficient, it’s accessible and it’s abundant. And finally, God’s help is swift. God’s help is swift. Let me run ahead, go down to verse five. “God is in the midst of her,” speaking of the city of Jerusalem. “She shall not be moved.” Notice this. “God shall help her just at break of dawn.” Just the break of dawn. Not only is God’s help marvelously abundant, it’s readily available. It will be there when we need it. The King James put it that His help will be right early. The Hebrew is at the break of dawn, the New King James catches that, His help will indeed come just at the break of dawn.
And I think the background to that is our story. Remember we went over it? It’s 701 B.C., the Assyrians are sweeping through the Mediterranean world. They’ve already destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel some 20 years earlier, 200,000 Jews are in captivity, and exiled. Judah is the last holdout. Hezekiah is in his keep, he’s in his stronghold, and he’s pleading with God to help. In fact, it says in the text, read it for yourself in 2 Kings 19. “That night, as Hezekiah spread the matter before the Lord, the Angel of the Lord went into the Assyrian camp and destroyed 185,000 of them, and the massacre, and the mess became apparent at the break of dawn.”
Can you imagine that? As the sun comes up, and the Israeli soldiers and sentries look over the battlements, and all of a sudden, the Assyrians are gone. And after a little while, double checking that they’re not hallucinating, they go out the city gates, into the camp, and they find 185,000 corpses, and Sennacherib hightailing it across the northern border. Help had come right early. Help had come at the break of dawn.
Oh my friend, that’s a wonderful thing. In fact, if you study your Bible, you see often that God’s help comes at the break of dawn, and it comes just at the right time. Maybe here’s one example of that. What about Abraham and Isaac? Abraham, in an act of faith, is about the plunge the dagger into his son’s chest, and at that very moment you hear the bleating of the ram in the thicket, and God had prepared Himself a lamb. It was cutting it fine. It was a little hairy, I’m sure, from Abraham’s point of view, but God helped just at the right moment, and God indeed is a strong help, and He’s a sufficient help, and He’s a swift help.
I love this story. I’ve told it many times about George Phillips of Meridian, Mississippi, who was going to bed one night, and as he closed the bedroom curtains on a two-story home, he noticed that the light was left on in his garden shed, and he told his wife that the light was left on in the garden shed. He was going to go downstairs and turn it off. But as he looked a little bit more, he noticed some shadows moving inside the lighted wooden shed, and he determined that there were some guys inside his shed, pilfering his tools, and his stuff. So he immediately closes the curtains, he gets down, gets the phone, and calls 9-1-1.
He informs the police that there’s someone in his shed, stealing his stuff, and they need to come immediately. The operator says, “Are they in your house?” He says, “No, they’re not in my house. They’re in my shed.” And he said, “Well then, sir, stay in your house. Our resources are stretched. We don’t have a squad car available right now. Stay in the house, lock the doors. Don’t go outside wherever you do, and we’ll attend to you as soon as we can.” Kind of unsatisfied, but that’s the reality, he puts the phone down.
Then he lifts the phone up about two minutes later and he tells the operator, “Hey, I was on a few moments ago, I told you the story about some thieves in my shed. Well, there’s no rush. I went outside and shot them.” And within five minutes, there’s ambulances, there’s a SWAT team, there’s squad cars, there’s a helicopter overhead, with a spotlight. And as the situation unfolds, the police determined that indeed no one had been shot. In fact, they nabbed the burglars in the process of committing their crime. Rather then annoyed, the policeman says to Mr. Phillips, “I thought you said you’d shot them.” And in a great response he says to the police officer, “I thought you said there was nobody available.”
Now whether that story’s right, there’s some questions asked to its authenticity, I have no doubt that something like that has happened at some point, where someone has called for help, and that help hasn’t been available, and they’ve been put at greater risk, and may perhaps have turned the desperate measures. Oh, my friend, God is a help that’s swift, and sufficient, and strong.
Number two, when life falls apart, don’t fear. And number two, when life falls apart, don’t faint, we’re going to speed up here a little bit. We’re going now to versus four through seven. There is a river whose streams shall make glad the City of God, the Holy Place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God shall help her just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved, He uttered His voice, the earth melted, the Lord of Hosts is with us, and the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
We’re moving now from waters that roar, and disturb us, to waters that are calm, and refresh us. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but given what we have just read in verse three, “The waters roar and are troubled,” we now read of a river within the city that makes glad the inhabitants of Jerusalem. So, there’s a wonderful contrast, and it’s deliberate, and it’s being drawn by the author of our text, between the turbulent waters of the world, and the calm waters of the city.
That’s interesting, and here’s what’s of further interest. The fact is that Jerusalem wasn’t built on a river. When you read this, commentators immediately asked the question, “What river?” There is no river. Jerusalem was distinct in this way. Unlike other cities, there was no natural water supply, and that made them vulnerable to attack, and especially siege, because the Assyrians had surrounded the City of Jerusalem on all sides, and they were waiting them out, and they were taunting them psychologically, and they were threatening them physically.
Babylon had the Euphrates, Rome had the Tiber. Nineveh had the Tigris. Damascus had the Barada, the Egyptian cities had the Nile, but Jerusalem had no natural river. David captured the city many years earlier, and this has always been Jerusalem’s Achilles heel. In fact, king has Hezekiah realizes that, and some years earlier, he built a special, secure tunnel. We know it as has Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and some of us have been to Israel and gone through that tunnel, which was a engineering marvel, because it was started both inside the city, and outside the city, and they met in the middle. That was the day before sonic sounding, and radar. It’s marvelous. In fact, you know where they meet in the middle because they don’t meet perfectly, but given what they were up against, it’s a marvel.
And so what they do under King Hezekiah, is they take the Gihon Spring, which is outside the city, and they bring it to a pool inside the city. You can read about that in 2 King’s 20:20, or 2 Chronicles 32 verse 30. And perhaps, in some ways, that is a reference. The Assyrians may not have discovered Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and therefore there was a source of water to the city, that sustained them, and made them glad in God.
And look, by the way, in the midst of this coronavirus crisis, you realize the importance of water, don’t you? I mean, as I just said, I went to Target yesterday, there was no water. Well, there was, but it was like 20 bucks for a case of six. I’m just too tight. I’d rather die of coronavirus than pay that kind of money. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll get desperate enough. But right now, you get my point. Water is so important. It’s an issue in a crisis. It’s an issue in a crisis, and that’s what’s being talked about here.
But here’s what I would suggest, while there may be an historical reference here to the water supplied through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. There is little doubt, it would seem to me, that the river also speaks of the river of God’s Presence in the midst of them. Look at the language. “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the City of God. The Holy Place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved. He shall help her.”
The Presence of God amidst the people of God afforded them a river of delights, the promise of God’s peace, and the promise of God’s provision. He would strengthen them, and help them, and that help would be strong, and sufficient, and swift. The people of God have a refuge in God, therefore they will not fear, but they have a river in God, therefore they will not faint. In fact, God in Jeremiah two verse 13 is called what? The Fountain of Living Water. If you study the Scriptures, you’ll see that there’s a river that flows from the Throne of God in Genesis two. And we just saw it a few weeks ago, in Revelation 22, there’s a river that flows from the Throne of God.
So this river being spoken of here speaks of the streams of mercy, never failing, that call for songs of loudest praise. It is those streams of mercy, never failing, that are available to God’s people in the midst of a crisis. God is the source of Living Water, that meets us at the point of our need, that sustains us in life. Jesus, didn’t he take up the image of water in John seven verses 37 to 39? In speaking of how the Holy Spirit within is like Rivers of Living Water, sustaining us, and satisfying us, and securing us in the midst of our challenges.
In fact, I think this thought is captured in the language of John 1:16, which we’ve looked at on several occasions, where we read, “Of his fullness have we received grace upon grace.” Listen to these words from the great English scholar, Bishop Handley Moule. “The picture before us is as of a river. Stand on its banks and contemplate the flow of waters. A minute passes, and another. It is the same stream still, yes, but is it the same water? No. The liquid mass that passed you seconds ago fills another section of the channel. New water has displaced it, or if you please, replaced it, water in the place of water, water instead of water. And so hour by hour, year by year, century by century, the process holds. One stream, other waters, living, not stagnant, because in the great identity there is a perpetual exchange. Grace takes the place of grace. Mercy takes the place of mercy, love takes the place of love, ever new, ever old, ever the same, ever fresh, ever young, for hour by hour, year by year, through Christ.”
That’s beautiful, that God is our river of delight. To quote Jonathan Edwards, “A thirsty man does not sensibly lessen a river by quenching his thirst. Christ is like a river. A river is continually flowing. There are fresh supplies of water coming from the fountainhead continually, so that a man may live by it, and be supplied with water all his life. So Christ is an ever flowing fountain. He is continually supplying his people, and the fountain is never spent.”
Oh, my friends, don’t fear, because God is your refuge and strength, and an accessible and abundant help when we’re in a tight spot. And then don’t faint. Don’t faint. Water is so important in the midst of a crisis, it sustains the body, it refreshes the body, it strengthens the body, it brings vitality to life, and so it is with the presence of God. He affords us a river, a never ever ending river of love, and mercy, and kindness, and faithfulness.
Let’s finish this up, back to our text. Don’t fuss. Don’t fuss. In the remaining verses, Psalm 46 speaks of a cessation of hostilities, and the exaltation of God over man within history. “Come, behold the works of the Lord who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars to ceased to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in two. He burns the chariot in the fire. ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
I love that. Be still. Don’t fuss, don’t fret. Now while it’s possible, and many commentators do this, they think that these verses are addressed to the enemies of God, and the enemies of God’s people, and they’re addressing a future time, when man’s rebellion against God will come to an end, when Jesus returns, and he rules the nations with a rod of iron, and he breaks the bow, and he breaks the spear, and he burns the chariot. That’s the language of Psalm two verse nine. That’s the language of Revelation two, verse 25 to 27.
We could be looking ahead to a time at the end of history when God through Christ disarms a world at war with Him. But I don’t know that we have to go that far. I think it’s better to see it in the context of the immediate circumstances. When the text makes plain sense, seek no other sense. And so, I think when we read here in verse eight, “Come, behold” there are two verbs there, “Come and behold the works of the Lord.” What’s wrong to see that simply in the context of 2 King’s 19, where the Angel of the Lord kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers? And by the morning, by the turning of the dawn, right early, the people of God wake up, and they come, and behold the works of the Lord, in the devastation of the Assyrian army.
If you want to read it, 2 Kings 19, 35 to 37. And the mental picture I have there, that they would see, that they would behold. If you go back to the first Gulf War, do you remember the Highway of Death? Somewhere in that conflict, somewhere in that war, our brave Allied Forces caught the Iraqis retreating, regrouping, and they piled on them along a highway that stretched for miles, and hundreds of vehicles were destroyed, tanks were destroyed. Hundreds of people were killed, although thousands escaped their vehicles and ran into the desert. You can look that image up. It’s a scary image, just a Highway of Death, blackness, devastation. And in some ways that’s what the text is saying to the people of Israel. “Come behold the devastation of the Lord,” 185,000 enemies of God’s people, and the Lord, lying in the dust.
So, as we close this morning, in beholding and gazing on what God had done to the Assyrians in one night, the people of God were to realize God’s awesome protection, and God’s awesome power. And here’s what they were to do. They were to stop fretting, and they were to stop fussing. Look at verse 10, “Be still, and realize, no realize, come to see, through what you see, come and behold the works of the Lord, come and see it. And then when you come and see it, here’s what you need to see. God is sovereign. God’s power can never be challenged. God’s throne can never be tamped. God’s people can never be defeated.” That’s what they were to come, they were to be still, and know that, see that, comprehend that.
The word be still means to relax. The literal Hebrew is to drop your hands, to droop. Practically, many commentators translate it something like, take your hands off, and see that God is God. Realize there’s no one like our God. Come to see that God exalts himself in the demise of the Assyrian army, and the humbling of the most powerful man on the earth at that time. He had done it before with Pharaoh. He would do it later with Nebuchadnezzar.
The restless heart of the believer is to rest when life falls apart. The fearful saint of God is to learn to trust God more fully. And that’s a journey, isn’t it? For all of us. Judah was to come to believe, to know, to realize that God is sovereign. I love these words by Warren Wiersbe. He says this, “Whenever we become impatient with the Father, and we get in a hurry, we must remember three orders given in the Bible. Stand still, Exodus 14:13, sit still, Ruth 3 verse 18, and be still, Psalm 46, verse 10.”
“If we will stand still, God can go before us, and prepare the way, as He did for Israel when they crossed the Red Sea. If we sit still like Ruth, God can work for us, and accomplish His perfect will as he did with Ruth in relation to Boaz. If we will be still, the Lord will be our refuge and strength in times of trouble, and everything will work out for His glory, and for our good. The Hebrew words translated, be still, means, take your hands off. How prone we are to try to manage everything ourselves, and tell God what to do. Of course, when we know God’s will, we must be prepared to do it, when he gives us the signal.”
So, as we close, be still kindred, literally drop the hands. Practically take your hands off the situation. Do your duty. Be wise, be prudent, because that’s not in contradiction to trusting God. But once you have done your duty, once you have done what seems wise, once you have done what you can do in a given situation to help yourself, and help others, trust God for His help, let Him work all things together for good. Let Him bring the precious out of the vile. Let him turn the wrath of man to His glory. Let Him turn crucifixions into resurrections.
Stop trying to take things into your own hands. Let’s stop trying to play God. Let God take over. Permit Him to prove Himself faithful. Remember that when it comes to your times, they’re in His hands. Psalm 31, verse 15, when it comes to your salvation, no one will pluck you out of His hand. John 10, verse 28 to 29. When it comes to success in life, we look for the good hand of God, like Nehemiah, in Nehemiah two verse 18. When it comes to our leaders, and our officials, Proverbs 21 verse one reminds us that the king is in the Lord’s hand, and he turns them whatsoever way he wishes. And our every move in life is in God’s hand. Psalm 139, 7 to 10.
Where can we flee from His Presence? We can take the wings of the morning and fly to the most parts of the earth. We can plunge at the bottom of the sea, but even there, His hand will lead us, and His right hand will hold us. As our team prepares to come up, I’ll finish with this illustration. I don’t know if you’re much of a soccer fan, but if you’ve been following EPL, you’ll realize that Liverpool is on the verge of winning the Premier League. Their manager, Jürgen Klopp, is a Christian. He’s a very successful soccer manager. He was in the Bundesliga in Germany, where he took Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga League championships. He’s now on the verge of leading Liverpool, which is one of the great English soccer clubs to another National Championship.
He tells us in interviews that he’s given that Jesus Christ is the most important person in his life, and within history. He has given testimony to the fact that he trusts in the fact that Jesus Christ took his sins upon a cross. And he says this, it’s a nice place to wrap this up. “When I look at myself and my life, and I take time to do that every day, I come to realize that I’m in sensationally good hands.”
It’s a beautiful little phrase, isn’t it? Jürgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool FC says every day he comes to realize as he reflects on life and God, that he’s in exceptionally, sensationally good hands. And he said this, “I find it a pity if other people lack this sense of security. Although they don’t know it, of course, because otherwise they would probably look for it.” See, he’s telling us the secret to his success, the secret to his calm, and confidence in life. It’s to realize that each day he gets up and goes about his business, realizing he can control what he can control, but life sometimes gets out of control. He’s in sensationally good hands, and so are you. Don’t fear, don’t fret, don’t fuss. Don’t faint when life falls apart.
Let’s pray. Father, we thank You for Your Word. Great peace have they who obey Your Law, and we thank You as we turn in the midst of some trying circumstances, and challenging times here, in our own country, we can hear, and heed this psalm of affirmation, this psalm of trust, this psalm of confidence, that the people of God can express a trust in God when life falls apart. So Lord, help us to look to you, not to fear. We pray that the peace of God that passes all understanding will flood our hearts, and guard our lives.
Help us to realize that as this thing unfolds, that we could be tested, and things could get worse before they get better. But we thank you, there’s a river that flows within, where we find love replacing love, and mercy replacing mercy, and kindness replacing kindness, and faithfulness replacing faithfulness. We thank you that that will sustain us, and give life in vitality to our life.
And Lord, help us to kind of not fuss and fret this morning. Help us to be still. That doesn’t mean imprudent, doesn’t mean impractical, but once we’ve taken the necessary measures that we ought to, help us to be still. Help us to put this all in Your hands, those strong hands, those triumphant hands, those creative hands. And help us along with our brother Jürgen Klopp, to realize each and every day we are in sensationally good hands. Our times are in Your hands. So God, we leave them there. So, we pray for our friends and our family, bless them wherever they are today, and give our leaders wisdom here at the church, and in our communities, as we take one step after another in this unfolding situation, as we row towards the shore, we keep our eye towards heaven. For Jesus’ sake, amen.