Psalm 46 is a psalm that has brought reassurrance and comfort to people throughout the ages. It reminds us of God’s strength and power and protection, telling us that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1) It speaks of God as a fortress (Ps 46:7,11), a place of safety when war is all around, and reminds us that there is life and peace in Him.
I often read the Bible in a range of versions. Familiarity with phrases can sometimes blunt the impact of words, so reading in a variety of translations helps to keep my attention focussed and alert. This morning, when reading Psalm 46, the Message version speaks of us standing ‘fearless at the cliff-edge of doom.’
It can feel like we have been living at the cliff-edge of doom for two years now. We had all the doom of Covid-19 and the psychological ‘nudging’ that came with it, telling us we were living in unprecedented times and had little hope of rescue from a deadly disease. Now we are bombarded daily with images of war between Russia and Ukraine, heightening the sense of threat, feeding our worst fears. Added to this are the anxieties about the rising cost of living and the relentless assault on happiness, for doom is in every headline. Pessimism is the prevailing tone, it seems.
It’s not easy to withstand such pressure, but Psalm 46 offers an alternative perspective and both comfort and hope for these turbulent times (which actually are pretty much the same as any turbulent time in history.) It speaks of God being within us, ready to help us. It speaks of a life-giving river (water is essential to life, so there is the hope of survival there!) It offers us perspective, since it too speaks of nations rising and kingdoms being in uproar (as we see today), yet it asserts confidently that God is still on His throne (‘he lifts his voice; the earth melts…’)
It would be foolish to persistently stand at a cliff-edge during a wild and windy storm, because the danger of falling is then very real. Yet this is often what we do, feeding our fears as we persist in listening obsessively to the news or as we persist in scrolling incessantly through social media. We need to step back from the cliff edge and run to God for safety and protection. We need to learn to be still and know that He is God. (Ps 46:10) This verse in the Message version says, “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, lasting look at me, your High God; above politics, above everything.”
When we do this, when we deliberately choose to focus our attention on God instead of on the tumultuous events all around us, we find strength, encouragement, peace and hope. Come away from the cliff-edge of doom today. Come to God.