Monday, September 25, 2023

Summer Psalms: The Presence Of God - Psalms 63

Summer Psalms: The Presence Of God Psalms 63

When this Psalms was written by David, he is in the wilderness, the deserts that fill much of Israel. This was perhaps during the time he was hiding from Saul or when Absalom rebelled against his own father and David had to flee Jerusalem and the Temple of God. In this place of loneliness and emptiness David has one great overriding desire, to experience the presence of God. Let me give you a quote from a Catholic Monk. You won’t find me doing that very often, but the Practice of the Presence of God is recognized as a Christian classic by many non-Catholics and even some Baptists.

The most holy practice, the nearest to daily life, and the most essential for the spiritual life, is the practice of the presence of God, that is to find joy in his divine company and to make it a habit of life, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment, without rule or restriction, above all at times of temptation, distress, dryness, and revulsion, and even of faithlessness and sin.  - Brother Lawrence

Passion for His Presence Ps 63:1-2

(A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.) O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

David’s Longs To Be With God

David calls out to God, his God because he has a personal relationship with the Lord Jehovah. This was a relationship began as a young boy while out watching his fathers sheep. It was a relationship grown through faith as he fought the lion and the bear. A relationship that gave boldness in his battle with Goliath and now it is a relationship being tested by the emptiness of wilderness.

David calls out to the one who has always been with Him, “I will seek thee.”

Notice the intensity of David’s seeking. “Early will I seek thee” this means seeking God would be David first priority. With the first light of the day, with the first thoughts of his mind, with the first stirrings of his heart he would seek God.

David says, “My soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longs for thee.” All of David’s body and soul craved the presence of God. He describes it as being like a man in the desert craving a cool drink of water. Every part of the dying man in the desert, longs for and needs what that only a cool drink of water can provide.  Yet in the midst of all that is wrong and all that David must try to deal with, his overwhelming passion is to experience the presence of God.

He longs to see him as he has seen him in the sanctuary, in the assembly of God’s people gathered together in worship, praise and prayer. For David there can be no greater expression of God’s presence than in God’s assembled people worshipping.

Quote: I've experienced God's presence most powerfully in worship, often during the singing, I suppose because when we sing to him, we are looking hard in his direction. - J.I. Packer, Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 3.

That “looking hard in His direction” was what David was doing. That is what we need to be doing. We need to ask ourselves….

Do We Long for the Presence of the Lord?

After reading this passage of scripture, what I realized was that I don’t always have that same kind of passion for the presence of God.  I know I love the things of God. I love learning about God but too many times, these become the end of my desire rather than a means to a much greater end which is knowing God and being in His presence.

I’m also afraid that what I realized about myself, is probably true for most Christians. We don’t really seek the presence of God. We love the things of the church, the culture of Christianity, or the trappings of tradition but many times there is no driving passion for God’s presence, no desire to truly experience Him in our everyday lives. We can’t say like David that we long for God like a man in the wilderness longs for a drink of water or like Packer we are not looking hard in His direction.  

John R. W. Stott once admitted the truth that many of us have felt but failed to confess: "The thing I know will give me the deepest joy -- namely, to be alone and unhurried in the presence of God, aware of His presence, my heart open to worship Him -- is often the thing I least want to do."

Do you remember the story of Jesus after feeding the multitude John 6:24-30

When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.  Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?

They were seek the things that come with Jesus, the things that came from Jesus but they were not seeking Jesus Himself. Too often that is the reality in my own life.

But look what Jesus said in his most famous and tender invitation in Matthew 11:27-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

It wasn’t about things, it was all about Jesus. “Come unto me.” It was all about experiencing and being with Him.

When we seek the presence of God, we will find it, because there is nothing God desire more than to be with the children He loves. When we do come to his presence then the we will be changed, as we see David changed in verse 3-6

Praise In His Presence Ps 63:3-6

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:  When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.

David Meets with God and is Changed

In verses 3-6 we see that though David could not go back to the tabernacle and join the assembly of God’s people, his desire was such that he must worship and praise God right where he is at, there in the wilderness.

He gives two reasons he must praise God, in vs 3 “because of they lovingkindness and later in vs. 7 “because thou hast been my help”

In this section we can see the motions of his worship. He says, “My lips shall praise thee. I will bless thee. I will lift up my hands in thy name.”

This time of meeting with God and of being in His presence changes David, it gives him a new perspective of what he is going through.

His Values are changed: “Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.”

Lovingkindness is the OT word for mercy, kindness, goodness. David says, “Your lovingkindness is more important than life itself.”  Even here cut off from the Temple and away from God’s people, and running for his life, he experiences the grace of God and finds the taste of it more wonderful than the fears and doubts of life in that time of trouble. This loving kindness could only be found in the presence of God. After experiencing God’s overwhelming goodness and mercy he says, my lips will praise thee. What else could they do, he had been in the presence of God.

Nor could the praise be contained to just his lips, He says, “I will bless thee, I will lift up my hands in thy name.” The lifting up of hands was a gesture that showed the worshipper was receiving a gift from God. Just as all of David’s being longed for God, now in the presence of God, all of David must praise God. First with his lips, but now with his hands, first the inner praise from his heart and now the outward acknowledgment of receiving from God.

His emptiness is changed: “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.” Remember where David is, fleeing for his life, driven from all he had and yet he says “My soul is satisfied.” How can he say that? Because he has been filled by the presence of God. It does not matter what he has lost, he has God.

David says, “I will remember thee upon my bed and think of thee in the night watches.” In those times when anxious thoughts would rob him of his joy and peace, he will turn his heart and mind back to God during the long night.”

We Need to Find the Presence of God

Like David we must seek Him, set aside the time, set aside the place, set aside ourselves and seek the presence of God. And when we meet with Him, we will be changed.

Just like David or emptiness will be filled. Our loneliness will be forgotten, our pain will be eased and will we praise God with all our heart and body and soul.

If we truly seek His presence, we will find Him and when we find Him and experience the grace and glory of God, we must be changed. We will see with different eyes, we will work with different hands, we will feel with a different heart.

If you have truly been in the presence of God and known His loving-kindness then it will lift my vision, lift my hands, fill my soul and set my heart on seeking God morning and night.

I think of the story of Moses in Exodus 33 when God had appeared on Mt. Sinai and Moses was called up to the mountain while the people were content to cower in their tents at the presence of God. Moses, who had endured so much, had failed so much and yet had seen so much of God’s power, has one great desire that he asks of God.

Moses glimpses the glory of God and is changed when God’s presence passes by

Exodus 33:18-21 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; …   And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:

Present Help In His Presence Ps 63:7-11

Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me. But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes. But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

David Knows God’s Help

David gives his second reason for praising God, because Thou has been my help. I believe this refers to what David had just experienced. The change of perspective and the filling of his desire by being with God in worship. Because of this help, right now, he will rejoice in the shadow of God’s wings. Like the eagle that spreads out its wings to protect and shield its young, so David is safe in the bosom of God.

David has a surety that God would not fail him. He looks to the time when he will be past the troubles that drove him from Jerusalem and knows that, “The king shall rejoice in God, everyone that swears by him shall glory.”  

Being with God had filled David with joy, assurance and hope for the future. If it did all that for David in the midst of his great troubles, shouldn’t we be seeking God in the midst of ours?

Will you Go to God? 

Will you go to God, when your soul is troubled because you are lost and have no assurance of eternal life? Will you go to him for comfort when facing death of a loved one?  Will you go to him in those times of desperation when all seems lost?  If you will go to Him, if you will seek Him, long to be with Him as David did, then just like David you will know the wonder and the power of the presence of God. 

And when you have been in his presence you will find that everything changes and you will see that of all the things that are given to the child of God, none is more precious than the gift of God himself.

Isn’t this what Jesus promised on the last night he would spend with his apostles? While everything around them was falling apart, with their Lord telling them that he was to be taken and killed, he tells them one thing that was meant to carry them through and give them hope. He tells them I will still be with you, I will still comfort you through the gift of the Holy Spirit, I give my presence to you always.

Scripture: John 14:16-20  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.  Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.  At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

You know what we do sometimes in the midst of our loneliness, our fear and our trials? We ask God for something to help us, something to overcome the difficulties. We ask for something out there to be delivered to us and helps us but we fail to realize that we already have what we need in here. Its not something that is needed it is someone and that someone is God. It is His overwhelming presence that we need. Then we will have assurance and hope. Then we will praise Him for his lovingkindness and rest under the shadow of His wings. We just need to walk with Jesus and trust the gift of the Spirit and we like David shall rejoice and glory no matter what wilderness we are crossing.

I think that is what the missionary Jim Eliot wrote about in his diary before he went to Ecuador and was killed by the Auca Indians.

I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious. To stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask?  Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth. I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap, in mercy, He shall give me a host of children that I may lead through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose fingers' ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, smell His garments, and smile into my Lover's eyes, ah, then, not stars, nor children, shall matter--only Himself.  - Jim Elliot in The Journals of Jim Elliot; entry of January 16, 1951.  Christianity Today, Vol. 39,  no. 7.


Leslie Weatherhead tells the story of an old Scot who was quite ill, and the family called for their dominie, or minister. As he entered the sick room and sat down, he noticed another chair on the opposite side of the bed, a chair which had also been drawn close. The pastor said, "Well, Donald, I see I'm not your first visitor for the day."

   The old man looked up, was puzzled for a moment, then recognized from the nod of the head that the pastor had noticed the empty chair. "Well, Pastor, I'll tell you about that chair. Many years ago I found it quite difficult to pray, so one day I shared this problem with my pastor. He told me not to worry about kneeling or about placing myself in some pious posture. Instead, he said, 'Just sit down, put a chair opposite you, and imagine Jesus sitting in it, then talk with Him as you would a friend."' The aged Scot then added, "I've been doing that ever since."

   A short time later the daughter of the Scot called the pastor. When he answered, she informed him that her father had died very suddenly, and she was quite shaken for she had no idea death was so near. Then she continued, "I had just gone to lie down for an hour or two, for he seemed to be sleeping so comfortably. When I went back he was dead." Then she added thoughtfully, "Except now his hand was on the empty chair at the side of the bed. Isn't that strange?"

The minister said, "No not really, it's not so strange at all”

-James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 416.


Monday, September 18, 2023

Summer Psalms #4: Stillness in God's Refuge - Psalm 46


Summer Psalms 4 Stillness in God's Refuge Psalm 46

Text: Ps 46:1-11

Psalm 46, 47 and 48 form a trilogy of praise. Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 47:1O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. Psalms 48:1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.

They were probably written after God had delivered Israel in a mighty and miraculous way. Some believe it was this great victory over the Assyrians found in 2 Kings 19.

The city of Jerusalem was besieged and unable to help herself. Assyria, the greatest power in the Middle East at this time, was now at the city walls. Assyrian was known as a raider nation, invading weaker countries just to steal their riches and make slaves of their people. They had already taken the northern kingdom of Israel, the apostate sister state of Judah. Sennacherib, the King of Assyria then sent an emissary, named Rabshakeh, who stood outside the walls of the Holy City and mocked the God of Israel, King Hezekiah and the people’s trust in both. After all these things happened, the King then went into the temple dressed in sackcloth, he fasted and he began to pray. In response to King Hezekiah’s prayer, God sent Isaiah, the great prophet of the most high God, with an answer to that prayer. God, Isaiah told the King, God will defend this city.”

And God fulfilled his promise as recorded in 2 Kings 19:32-35 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.  By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.  For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.  And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand (185,000): and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

Now I really don’t think you and I will ever have to face an army of 185, 000 mad for blood and loot, Assyrians. No, but face some real enemies and in our life. When those times come and they will, then I want to be able to say as Psalms 46 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

The Psalms has three stanzas, and in each of them is a metaphor using water. One is a flood, one is a river and one is the still waters of a peaceful stream. Let’s start with the first stanza of the Psalms, vss. 1-3 and listen as it speaks of faith in God during a time trouble.

The Troubled Sea - Psalms 46:1-3

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;  Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

God, A Refuge In the Storm

The Psalms begins with this statement of faith, God is our refuge and strength. In Him we find a place of safety, of hope and ultimately of victory. It is the theme of the Psalms it is found in each of the stanzas. Vss. 1, 7, and 11.

From this declaration of complete trust, this understanding of who God is, comes this conclusion, “therefore we will not fear.”

The Psalmist describes the troubles he faces as terrible earthquakes and overwhelming, apocalyptic floods. He is like a man being thrown about by the moving of the earth or swept away in an powerful flood. In all this, the psalmist knows he powerless to save himself, but in the center of the catastrophe, in the full power of storm, he reaches out in faith and God pulls him out of the troubles.  In God he finds his place of refuge from the pain, sorrow and suffering in life.

Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Our Own Troubled Waters

We may not face what Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem faced but we will know our own “troubled waters.” Sometimes it is our family caught up in the flood of financial problems, illness or disfunction. Sometimes it can be our church being swept away in a flood of turmoil or even division. In these days of social upheaval, it seems our nation is being swept away by a flood of civil strife, immorality, perversion and ungodliness.

Like Hezekiah we can hear the enemies outside the gate of our homes, our church, mocking us, ridiculing our faith, and telling us to quit believing because there is no God that can deliver us from what is coming.

At those times, when I am overwhelmed by the troubled waters of this world, it is then that I need to listen and hear the voice of God’s word, the surety of God’s promise. I need to remember Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength.”

The flood may still be raging around us, but we have a place of protection, shelter, and hope. That place is in the promise of God Himself. He is our refuge, He is our strength, He is with us. He is that “very present help in time of trouble.” That means when I need Him, He is there. When trouble is present, God is there in the midst with me.  

I must state and stake my faith in God as my place of refuge. It matters not what circumstances are sweeping me away or what forces are shaking the very ground I stand on, I will not give in for God has promised that He is our refuge and strength!

Psalms 9:9-10 9 The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.  10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Be Still My Soul

We know little of the song author, Kathrina von Schlegel, but we do know she was born in 1697 and she died in 1797, 100 years later. She lived most of her life in Kothen, Germany or back then, Saxony. During the 100 years of her lifetime there were…42 major wars, rebellions or uprisings. There were 9 famines, the two worst saw 1/3 of all Bengal, and 10% of all Ireland die from starvation. There were terrible uncurable plagues, that killed 100s of thousands and struck without warning. Mt. Loki erupted in Iceland and almost the entire island had no way to grow food or live. An earthquake in Persia killed 40 thousand, another earthquake in Lisbon created a tidal wave that killed 60 thousand. Mt. Fuji in Japan erupted for the first time in over 1000 years. The volcanic ash in the air diminished the sun’s warmth and the little Ice age began making the 18th century the coldest in over 500 years.

Politically, the world was changed by The United States Revolutionary War, which broke the power of England and established democratic rule. But then French Revolution also began. The saw the worship of God forbidden and a cult of reason adapted as the state religion. Then the Cult of Reason began the Reign of Terror in which 40,000 French citizens were killed in less than a year. From that chaos, Napoleon came to power and the whole world plunged into a war than killed hundreds of thousands and lasted for decades.

In the meantime Katherine Van Schlegel lives in Saxony and leaves the world with only the dates of her birth, her death and one hymn. In the midst of all the terrible events of her lifetime she wrote…

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
in every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

In the next stanza of Psalms 46, the psalmist moves from being swept away by the troubled waters of despair to the hope and confidence of the Joyful river of God.

 The Joyful River - Psalms 46:4-7

Psalm 46:4-7 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen 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. Selah.  

God’s River of Joy

He says, “There is a river whose streams shall make glad…” The psalmist is using the river as a symbol of the presence of God. As the river flows through a city bringing help and hope so also the Holy Spirit of God flows in his people. In His presence, just like sitting beside a gently flowing river, there is joy. Ther is peace. Such a beautiful metaphor. The river of the presence of God. It’s used over and over throughout God’s word.

Psalms 36:8-9 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

The Prophets Ezekiel and Zechariah both saw in a vision the river of life flowing from the throne of God bringing life and peace to Israel.

Here the Psalmist looks up from the difficulties of the present to see the eternal dwelling of God. Though he may feel swept away today, God is still in the midst of Zion and because God is there, Zion shall not be moved.

Where God is the psalmist says:

There is help Psalms 46:5 God shall help her, and that right early. The words “right early” lit. mean at the turn of the morning, the breaking of the dawn, at the darkest of the night light breaks forth and God’s deliverance is seen. Right early. It also means that whoever wrote this psalm was from East Texas, so we can claim it as our own. And you might want to do that “right early”

The Psalms tells us that where God is there is power vs. 6 “The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: but he (God) uttered his voice, and the earth melted.”

We also know that where God is there is also assurance vs. 7 he LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

The meaning of the word Selah is lost to us, but most feel it was a musical notation. Much like our notation crescendo it might have meant to raise the voice.  And if so on this phrase in vs. 7 the singers of this psalm would shout the promise. “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge!”

Have You Been to the River?

The Bible often uses rivers, springs and water as a metaphor of salvation. We see this especially in the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.

Turn with me to John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The woman at the well needed living water, for her soul and for her world. She was a sinner, outcast, alone and living on the edge of her society, but then Jesus came and offered her “living water springing up into everlasting life.”

Listen to me. We are all like the woman at the well. We are sinners, outcast from the love of God and living on the edge of eternity. Like her we need the living water that only Jesus can give.  Without Jesus there is no refuge, no assurance, no hope, but with him there is peace in the midst of the fiercest storm.

Jesus told her if you only knew me, you would ask me for living water. If we only knew, who Jesus truly is, what Jesus has done, what he can give us, then we would ask him for living water. Living water, to wash away my sin, my fears and my guilt. If you have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, then there is a well of water, a river of joy, springing up within you. Even in the time of your deepest troubles God’s presence is in your heart. You will not be moved by the floods of trouble and strife. You have a place of refuge, safety, and peace because God is with you.

Like the Psalmist and the woman at the well if we have been to the river, if we have drunk of Jesus’ water of life, then one day we will experience another river this one the greatest of all eternity.

The River of Life Revelation 22:1-5

Revelation 22:1-5  And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:  And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.  And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

That is the future reality of our present promise through Jesus Christ.  If you want to see it, if you want to experience the eternal joy of God’s crystal clear river of life, then you need to accept the Jesus’ gift of living waters today.

There is one more aspect of praise from this Psalms in the last 4 verses.

 The Stream of Stillness - Psalms 46:8-11

Psalm 46:8-11 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.  He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

God’s Still Stream

To the author of this Psalms, God was more than just a place to hide. He was the creator and sustainer of all things. He was the righteous and Holy God of war and of peace. He was the judge of all, and He was God of all power. By that great power one day He would cause all war and strife to cease. He will break the bow, cut the spear and burn the chariot.

Now listen closely for God Himself speaks in vs 10 and He tells the psalmist and in turn us, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

“Be still” literally means take your hands off! King Hezekiah could do nothing but be still. He and Jerusalem had to quit working and striving in their own power. They could not fight they could only wait and see the salvation of the Lord. They were to stop the worry, stop the fear, stop the hopelessness and just be still. Trust, have faith and fully know that I am God.”

Can We Be Still?

Here is the mistake we all make. We try to find peace, we try to calm the waters, we try to right the wrongs ourselves. We work in our power; we try to be stronger than our problems and more positive than our sorrows.  But God does not tell us to get stronger in ourselves. He tells us to be still and know what only He can do.  We cannot keep trying in our power and then know the power of God. In order to know His power in us, in order to know Him, we must “Be still!”

It is a mistake that mankind has always made. If you go to New York and stand in front of the United Nations building you will see a sculpture gifted from the USSR in 1959. It has an inscription taken from Isaiah 2:4, it says “and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

But that will never be true for the nations of the world, because they left out the first part of that verse which says, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. They left out God and without God’s power, the UN will never succeed in finding peace.

And on a much smaller but even truer scale nor can we. If we leave God out of our lives, if we don’t reach for Him in the storms, if we don’t seek him beside the river of life, , if we can’t be still beside God’s steam of peace, then we can’t experience God’s power and we can’t know the difference God’s power could have made in our life.

We must be still.  It is in the stillness of our hearts that God is known, not the rage of our emotions or the rush of our actions but in the stillness of our soul, that we experience God.

Is there a better illustration of this than what we find in Exodus 14. We are studying this in a really well produced and video series in our Sunday afternoon services. As Moses and the Hebrews found themselves blocked by the Red Sea in front and the chariots of Pharoah behind God spoke to Moses and he spoke to the people and in Exodus 14 :13 we read, “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.”

The people of God couldn’t part the Red Sea until it stood like the walls of a giant canyon, they could not dry out the land, they could not stop the chariots of Egypt from sweeping down upon them. All they could do was “Stand Still and See the Salvation of the Lord.”

In the salvation of our souls or the deliverance from despair, we must obey the same command, “Be still, and then you can know that God is God.


The refrain of the Psalms brings the Psalms to an end.

Psalms 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

It is the truth, the promise, the hope that each of us needs to take with us as we leave today. The Lord of the armies of Heaven stands with us. The God of the Ages, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who protected, guarded and never failed them, He is also our place of safety, peace and hope. He will never fail us in our time of troubled waters.

Jesus Lover of My Soul – Charles Wesley

Mrs. Mary Hoover, of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, whose grandmother was the heroine of the story, has related to her pastor this family tradition: Charles Wesley was preaching in the fields of the parish of Killyleagh, County Down, Ireland, when he was attacked by men who did not approve of his doctrines. He sought refuge in a house located on what was known as the Island Barn Farm. The farmer’s wife, Jane Lowrie Moore, told him to hide in the milkhouse, down in the garden. Soon the mob came and demanded the fugitive. She tried to quiet them by offering them refreshments. Going down to the milkhouse, she directed Mr. Wesley to get through the rear window and hide under the hedge, by which ran a little brook. In that hiding-place, with the cries of his pursuers all about him, he wrote this immortal hymn. Descendants of Mrs. Moore still live in the house, which is much the same as it was in Wesley’s time.

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.