Psalm 46

Imagine the earth giving way under your feet, maybe a 9.9 richter scale earthquake. Or maybe a massive tsunami that is sweeping across the landscapes before your very eyes and causing even the mountains to tremble at their base. What would be our emotional state of affairs at that moment? Pretty freaked out I am sure.. Yet God says if we were to trust Him (that is, 100 percent completely trust Him) then we would still not have cause to fear. The logical (or theological) conclusion of our faith in a supreme loving God should be a sense of calm even if the world were to crumble down before our very eyes. Because God is still bigger than the world and everything in it.

This is the theme of the beautiful psalm 46. It starts with the often quoted verse “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” That word ‘ever’ is put in context in the following verses by giving the worst possible scenario that we as mortals could face. Nature against us, all peoples against us. If this is not a perfect description of the phrase “all hell broke loose” I don’t know what is. It is in the midst of this utter chaos, that the psalm describes the beautiful city of God- the dwelling place of the Most High, the fortress and refuge of His children. Now I don’t think a literal meaning is rendered here, rather the city is the place of rest that the soul which trusts in God finds itself in. It is our hearts finding the inner peace and tranquility that only God can give (Philippians 4:7). It is also possible this city of God is none other than His church, the bride whom He protects. Against the background of a world tearing apart, a calm river is described; it’s streams, tranquil and unshaken, flow and supply this city. God is Himself in this city; that is, He does not guard it from afar by virtue of His omnipotent power- no, He Himself, is in this city. It is where He resides for the sake of the security and comfort of His people. Therefore, she will not fall. She will be safeguarded. “Neither death nor life… nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” says Paul (Romans 8:38,39)

But the psalm goes on to say more. It says that not only will God safeguard His city in the midst of storm, but He will also take care of the storm. That is, God is not that friendly neighbor who will let you in into his safe house and simply wait for the calamity to pass. No, God proves Himself mighty and matchless against any and all forces out there. He will make all wars against us cease, He will declare Himself supreme over all nature and peoples with His judgements. All He asks of you is to “be still”.

 

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Psalm 67

Psalm 67 is a very popular psalm. ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.’ (verses 1,2). In this psalm, we see that the psalmist prays for the prosperity of his people Israel. But the underlying reason for such a prayer is that his God maybe magnified all the more among the nations. He wants his God to be known more and revered more. Though he earnestly desires fruitfulness in the land, it is still only a means to a deeper and higher desire for him- that the God of Israel may be understood and feared throughout the earth (verse 7). He wants God-fearing people not only within Israel but also among all the nations.

This tells me there is nothing wrong in praying for success, prosperity or deliverance. In fact, God is eager to give good gifts to his children who ask him (Matthew 7:11). But before we pray so, let’s ask ourselves: Why we want this answer? What are we going to do with it once we receive it from Him? Do we want the things we ask for to ultimately fulfill us and our worldly desires, or do we want them to make us better equipped to work for His kingdom and give Him glory? If we have taken an open stand against worldliness, if we have shared our faith with others, if we have taken steps out of the norm in faith, then we can pray with the psalmist here that may God be gracious to us and help us, because the world knows who we stand for and is waiting to see if our faith is real or only theoretical. By standing out from the crowd, and stepping out in faith, we are actually calling upon God to vindicate His Name. And God will see to it His Name is glorified among the nations (or whoever makes up our ‘world’). And being a true christian, this will also be our highest joy and cause for all other prayers.