Psalm 46 is one of eleven Psalms noted to be of the Sons of Korah. The entire Psalm has a chiastic structure, meaning it begins and ends with God’s refuge and is centered around the power of His word over nature and humanity. The first paragraph begins with what looks like a response to what must have been chaos as observed by the author(s). They declare that since God is their refuge and strength, someone who is immediately at hand when troubles pile on troubles, nobody should be afraid – yes, even when the earth gives way, the mountains are swallowed up by the sea, and the very bedrock of the world seems to be cracking apart. God has got this.
They go on to describe the end of days and the temple herself, saying, again as a reminder, that the very presence of God in her midst is reason enough to cast out fear and hesitation. Even though nations fight and civilization collapses, God’s word is enough to melt away all evil and discord.
The final paragraph beckons the reader to behold the works of the Lord; namely, that He has done away with those who oppose Him, creating suffering and wickedness. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire. Harkening back to Exodus 14, we hear that we must “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46 concludes with the confident assertion that the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
In doing a little background research about this Psalm, I came across an examination of this text that is too good to pass up. It explained the significance and, in my opinion, the irony, found in this particular Psalm being written by the Sons of Korah. I’ve copied and pasted it here:
“Suppose for a moment that you were looking through the family history, and you found out that the earth had opened up and swallowed your great-grandfather. Quite a story, no? Looking further into it, you discover that the reason the earth swallowed up your great-grandfather was that it was a judgment from God for opposing Moses. And this story got written into the Bible, so that everyone would know what happens when you get in God’s way. That is the backstory of the sons of Korah.”
Though Korah himself met a rather ignominious end, his descendants went on to serve as gatekeepers to the tabernacle itself. This stuck out to me as hugely significant! I doubt anyone would soon forget the tale of your ancestor’s brutal demise at the hands of a rightly offended God; yet the Sons of Korah did not shrink back from their duties or abandon the Lord. Rather, they remained steadfast and faithful to God, even “though the earth gives way,” which is exactly how Korah died. They didn’t need to only imagine the earth splitting open, they had seen it for themselves.
I’m sure some might have become imbittered towards the Lord after such a thing, however these sons of Korah saw the actions of the Lord in Numbers 16 as proof of His justice and might. It was this harsh rebuke that actually increased their confidence in the sovereign power of God! To have the actual ground itself give way, to have the bottom of your life just drop out into nothing is no doubt a terrifying feeling whether it’s figurative or literal, but it will absolutely show you who you are and where you put your trust.
Trust is a massive theme throughout the Psalms; try and count how many of them have to do with imploring of the Lord to act and then praising Him for His steadfastness. See how many of them celebrate the Lord’s deliverance, closeness, and goodness; how many of them worship His power and establish His plans as infinitely better than our own. Again and again, you can see that the authors of the Psalms (especially David) wrestled with God and his own lack of trust, only to decide to trust God once more, choosing to dwell in His peace that seems so illogical given David’s many crazy circumstances.
Trust in this way is radical and unusual. It is the backbone of our prayers, too. Trust that God hears those who pray, rewards and reveals Himself to those who seek Him, is nearby in times of trouble, walks with us every day even though we can’t feel it, that He knows your needs better than you, that He has a plan, that He will provide for your needs, that He will use all things for good, and so much more. Trust is the thing that calms our hearts and stills our hands. Trust is an action and not merely a feeling. It is something to be practiced and grows when it is put to the limit. Trust is necessary to step out in faith beyond what you might want to do or be comfortable doing. Trust in God is never misplaced, either! He is the one and only thing upon whom you can depend with each and every thing swirling around in your heart and mind and spirit even right now as you read this.
Trust in God needs to be nurtured. Go into your room and close the door, praying the Lord’s prayer line by line, filling in the gaps with your own specific words of praise and petition and thanksgiving, taking as much time as you need.
The hardest thing about trusting God is knowing when to simply leave something in His hands and when to act. The two go together, but not all the time. This takes wisdom and practice, as well as trial and error. That’s OK! Check yourself, though, and be keen to sense when you try to take the reins out of a sense of panic or anxiety over God not living up to His end of the bargain.
When you can honestly and fairly evaluate yourself as having done all that you should, make the conscious decision to leave the result in God’s hands. It takes remaining in the Word and prayer to know what to do in each given situation. Everyone is different, but this rule is in place for all of us: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. When in doubt, pray it out, and know that before you even say a word, He knows your life, your needs, your sins, your secrets, and yet loves you! Don’t hide from Him, but run to Him and fall in His lap, trusting that He is sovereign. Even though the earth gives way and the mountains are swallowed up, our God is Lord and King forever. Amen!
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. You are mighty and supreme and the giver of life to us all. You are the God of all things, the saviour and sustainer of the world, yet you know us each by name and beckon each of us to join you at your table. Thank you so much for opening up the way to your kingdom through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that we might run into your presence, hop into the arms of Him who sits on the throne, and let you carry us. Let our hearts begin to trust anew, that we might be an example of living worship to this dying world. Amen.
Song: Psalm 46 (Shane & Shane)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.