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Our Refuge and Strength

In perusing the scripture readings for the coming week, my eyes fixated on the words of Psalm 46. It is a very well-known Psalm, as it is often used to comfort believers and is also the text of the Reformation Hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is our God."

Psalm 46 is a relatively short Psalm that was written as a song. It is divided into three sections, each one ending in the word, "Selah." Verses 7 and 11 are identical. We can find the main theme within the first and last verses: God is our refuge and strength when we face trouble. This assurance is offered to us personally, as well as to nature and all the kingdoms of the earth.

The psalmist begins in verse 1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." This universal truth applies to just about everyone. There has never been a person who has lived his or her entire life without struggles of some kind, whether they be physical adversities, spiritual warfare, mental confusion, or relational issues within our families, at work, or sometimes with close friends. The question is: What has been our response to these types of trouble? Too often, our first response is to try and fix things ourselves. However, as these verses teach us, God is near, waiting for us. He often whispers, "I am your help! Do not fear." Are we listening close enough to hear this offer of help?

Then the psalmist goes on in verses 2 and 3, stating that "the earth gives way." These verses feel especially applicable right now. As we look back on the first six months of 2018, there has been an over-abundance of snow, rain, hurricanes, and tornadoes wreaking havoc in and out of seasons all over the world. The earth has definitely been giving way -- a sobering reminder that we need a refuge and a fortress.

As we read on in verse 6, "Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall." We do not have to look too far to see how this applies to our current world: Our governments, from the highest level to the very small towns, are falling prey to corruption and in many ways, are falling. There seems to be little respect for life, authority, or obedience to the law. One might say our current times mimic the time the tower of Babel was built -- a time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes.

With all of this in front of us, it is easy to feel discouraged, hopeless, and helpless. But the psalmist does not leave us in despair. The writer describes a city where God dwells; a place where He is with us and will help "at break of day." This points to the time when Jesus returns, takes the throne, and establishes His kingdom on earth.

In verses 8 and 9, we are further encouraged as we are reminded of the wonderful works of our all-powerful God: He makes wars cease; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shield with fire. Then the psalmist pens one of the most moving declarations in all of scripture:

"Be still and know that I am God
I will be exalted among the nations
I will be exalted in the earth!"

Indeed, the Lord Almighty is our refuge and our strength. May you know that God of Psalm 46 is with you this week to protect you, to comfort you, and to give you His power and His peace.

~ Karlene Holleman

July 1st Readings
2 CHRONICLES 29:3-31:21

July 2nd Readings
PROVERBS 25:1-29:27

July 3rd Readings
PROVERBS 30:1-31:31

July 4th Readings
PSALM 42
PSALM 43
PSALM 44
PSALM 45
PSALM 46

July 5th Readings
PSALM 47
PSALM 48
PSALM 49
PSALM 84
PSALM 85
PSALM 87

July 6th Readings
PSALM 1-2
PSALM 10
PSALM 33
PSALM 71
PSALM 91

July 7th Readings
PSALM 92
PSALM 93
PSALM 94
PSALM 95
PSALM 96
PSALM 97