God is Our Refuge and Strength — Psalm 46

God’s people down through the ages have known the pressure of being under attack.  The nation of Israel has continually been threatened with extinction and yet God has remained faithful to those who are the true Israel and put their trust in Him.  Even today when the United Nations gathers to hear the political messages from the leaders of various nations, it seems that the peace and security of the nation of Israel takes center stage.  Remember the attack of the Assyrian King Sennacherib in the days of Hezekiah – 2 Kings 18-19.  We are going to review this story as the backdrop for the message of Psalm 46.

As God’s people today, we experience different forms of pressure and attack every day.  There is much that distracts our attention from security and confidence in our God.  Our hearts are easily disturbed and blown about with the winds of anxiety and fear.  We need to be anchored in dependence upon the one who has promised to be with us and to never leave us or forsake us.

SECURITY AND CONFIDENCE IN THE FACE OF EXTREME PRESSURE DERIVE FROM RELYING ON GOD’S POWER, PRESENCE AND PREEMINENCE

I.   (:1-3) THE FORTRESS OF GOD’S POWER PROTECTS AGAINST ALL ATTACKS —

WE WILL NOT FEAR

A.  (:1)  The Security of Our Fortress is God Himself

1.  Our Refuge = Hiding place / Fortress

God is our refuge

I always liked visiting forts as a child; we are fortunate to be located near one of the most famous – Fort McHenry

David knew what it meant to rely on God as his refuge – his hiding place from the pursuit of King Saul and his troops; or again from the pursuit of his wayward son Absalom and his henchmen

I like the picture the Lord Jesus presented of Matt. 23:37 as He laments over unrepentant Jerusalem, the city of God – “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings

2.  Our Strength

and strength,

We are commanded to strengthen ourselves in the Lord

It is important to know the limitations of trusting in your own strength and to know the  source of your strength

3.  Our Deliverer

A very present help in trouble.

God is with us – this is the refrain throughout the psalm – surprising not to find the refrain verses repeated here at the end of the first strophe

God is available to us

God is accessible at just the right time when we need Him the most

Heb. 4:16: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

B.  (:2a)  The Steadfastness of Our Confidence is God’s Power

Therefore we will not fear,

How much of our life is disrupted by Fear and Anxiety??

Satan attacks us with this weapon of fear to paralyze us and keep us from stepping out in faith and aggressively trusting the Lord to accomplish great things for Him

Lord Jesus constantly addressed this weakness of fear and anxiety in the hearts of His disciples

-          Matt. 10:28-31  “Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”  Fear of God is the anecdote for the negative fear of men

-          Luke 12:22-34  Message about seeking first the kingdom of God and not being anxious about the provision of your physical and material needs – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

-          John 14:1 as Jesus comforts His disciples in light of His soon departure: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.”

What could we accomplish for the Lord if we were freed from Fear?

-          Fear of failure

-          Fear of attacks

-          Fear of inadequacy

-          Fear of people’s opinions

-          Fear of financial ruin or of the loss of our health

We need to cycle back to meditating on the person of God as our Refuge, our Strength and our Deliverer

Remember what God did for King Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem against the unbelievable odds of the forces of King Sennacherib of Assyria

C.  (:2b-3) The Sufficiency of God’s Power Withstands Even the Strongest Attack

Pictured as the Powerful Forces of Nature

though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

What would happen if our world were turned upside down by some type of catastrophic event?  Here the mountains are pictured as being cast into the sea;  The mountains symbolize what should be impregnable and beyond all attack; and yet here they are consumed by the roaring and foaming waters of the sea which now exhibits a sense of swelling pride in having seized control; World would buffet us and beat against us with powerful forces

Look at the natural disasters we have witnessed in the world recently:

The tsunami in Japan; earthquakes of various magnitude and devastation, floods like Katrina; threat of nations using nuclear weapons … all of these pale in comparison to what will happen when God pours out His wrath at the end of the age

Whatever pressure and attacks we might face can never be as great as what the psalmist pictures here; yet his point is that God’s Power to protect His people is sufficient even against such a great adversary; therefore, we must not Fear!

We will never be disappointed if we put our trust in the Lord and His saving power; so let’s not fear but be strong in our security and confidence in the Lord, our Fortress

“A Mighty Fortress is our God”

II.  (:4-6)  THE RIVER OF GOD’S PRESENCE STEADIES US AMIDST ALL TURMOIL —

WE WILL NOT BE MOVED

A.  (:4-6a)  The Joy of Our Life is Appreciating the Presence of God

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her,

The symbolism of the river connotes the life giving power and presence of God

Reminds us of Rev. 22:1-2  “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street.  On either side of the river was the tree of life

John 7:38  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’  But this He spoke of the Spirit

(cf. ministry of John Piper – Desiring God)

The Holiness of God must be honored

Psalm 15  “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent?  Who may dwell on Your holy hill?  He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.

The Privilege of Fellowship with a Holy God – He makes His dwelling place with us; the Most High = the Transcendent one – is also the Immanent one who is with us every day

Immanuel – God incarnate; God in the flesh has made His home in our midst; in fact His Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us

B.  (:4-5)  The Steadfastness of Our Confidence is God’s Presence

she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns

Lam. 3:22-25The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail, They are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness.  ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him.  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.’”

God wants us to be Steadfast; not to be shaken or moved from our spiritual center by the winds of pressure or by trials or attacks or opposition

Things might look dark in the night – but we need the confidence that when the morning dawns, God’s Power and Presence are there to help us

C.  (:6)  The Futility of Resisting God

The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.

King Sennacherib experienced that futility

Psalm 2  REBELLIOUS WORLD LEADERS MUST BOW DOWN BEFORE GOD’S ANOINTED RULER OR BE BROKEN BY GOD’S WRATH

I.   (:1-3)  THE FUTILITY OF FIGHTING AGAINST THE RULE OF GOD — FORGET IT!

A.  (:1)  It Doesn’t Make any Sense

B.  (:2)  There is No Safety in Numbers

C.  (:3)  Resolutions of Rebellion are Doomed to Failure

II.  (:4-6)  THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE SOVEREIGN OF THE UNIVERSE — NO PROBLEM!

A.  His Position — sits reigning in the heavens — Majesty

B.  His Mocking of their feeble resistance

C.  His Wrath in promising judgment

D.  His Triumph in establishing His King over all the earth

III. (:7-9)  THE TESTIMONY OF THE ANOINTED KING — THE SON OF GOD — IT’S A DONE DEAL!

REFRAIN (:7)

 “The Lord of Hosts is with us;

            The God of Jacob is our stronghold

“Like a River Glorious is God’s Perfect Peace”

The futility of resisting God transitions to the final strophe

III. (:8-10) THE MIGHTY WORKS OF GOD’S PREEMINENCE PUT AN END TO ALL STRIVING —

WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED

A.  (:8-9)  The Destruction of All Opposition

Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations 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 chariots with fire.

These mighty works of God are here viewed as works of judgment and destruction as He puts down all opposition

He is the one who has already secured our victory; how futile to try to put up opposition against His kingdom

But for His people, how sad if they do not have security and confidence in God’s ultimate triumph

B.  (:10a)  The Quiet Security and Confidence in Resting in God Alone

Cease striving and know that I am God;

This is a message to both friends and foes – “Be still and know that I am God

Usually we think of that in application to ourselves – How we need to quiet our hearts before God and rest in Him; but here it is in the context of Him putting down all attacks and all opposition – like the context of Psalm 2

To us, it does not mean “let go and let God” but to stop trying to rely on the arm of the flesh and look to God to accomplish our salvation; we still need to work out our salvation in fear and trembling … but we also need to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord

C.  (:10b)  The Exaltation of the Lord

I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Bow the knee now before it is too late – “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  Phil. 2:10-11

On that day we will reign with our Lord and Savior; we will be exalted at the end as well and share in His triumph and kingdom

RERAIN (:11)

The Lord of Hosts is with us;

            The God of Jacob is our stronghold

“O Worship the King”

CONCLUSION:

Goldingay: “Yahweh is not only a means of escape from pressures and trials.  He is also Lord over them.  He is not an escape from history, but the one who is working out his purpose in history.  And he is therefore not just a Saviour to be trusted, but also a Lord to be acknowledged.  Thus, the psalmist goes on: Stop fighting, and acknowledge that I am God.’”

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1 Comment

  1. Bro.You Zhi Jun

    I am a 3rd-generation Chinese born and living in Indonesia.
    You may not have any idea how a Chinese of Indonesian citizenship living here being unfairly treated and under threat, even the threat of losing property and life. Especially as a Christian, how the enemy keep attacking me and pressurize me.
    Because I am under pressure of attack, so I searched on the internet and found your website, and I very much appreciate your words.
    I really admire you and your family, as Caucasian and living in the USA, but I wonder do you really also experience the enemy’s attack as I quoted your words as below:
    “As God’s people today, we experience different forms of pressure and attack every day.”
    It seems to me very hard for me to get over my hardship.
    It seems that I have to pass every day of my life with a miserable heart.