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Pastor Sandeep special speech for new life
Psalm 46:1-11 God Centred
Introduction: Good Evening. Thank you for inviting me to share God’s word with you. As we look around, we notice that our world is pretty off centre. Where can we find security for our lives?
Psalm 46 is an invitation for us to find that security. In this Psalm God calls us so that He can have our undivided attention in order to speak to us. He speaks to us so that He can restore our balance and centre our lives around Him. He calls us in the midst of all the noise, confusion, the madness and the pain around us to a place where we can regain a proper posture before Him, where we can be realigned to Him. Psalm 46, especially verse 10 is a call to be still in the midst of great upheaval. It is a call to be God-centred. The Psalm is among a category called songs of Zion - songs for the city of Jerusalem.
For the believers in the Old Testament, Jerusalem, also known as Zion was the centre of the whole world and represented the saving presence of God. This is where the Jews had their temple which was the visible expression of their covenant relationship with the True and Living God. This was where God brought His judgement when the people of God strayed from their covenant relationship and in their unfaithfulness and restlessness followed after false gods and false comforts. Some that we too are always tempted to do - to stray away from our covenant relationship with God, to get overwhelmed by what is going on around us, blame God and out of our fear and restlessness, seek out false comforts and false gods which cannot deliver. Yet, God calls out to us, for there is no other place for us to find safety and security.
There are three reflections from this Psalm that I want to focus on:
1. God’s presence and protection for His people (Verse 1, 5,7,11).
2. God’s sovereignty over all of creation and all nations. (vs 6, 9, 10).
3. God speaks! God’s authoritative word brings order and peace in the midst of confusion
1. God is our refuge - God’s presence and protection for His people (Verse 1, 5,7,11).
The very structure of this Psalm - beginning, middle and end - repeat “God is our refuge.”God’s presence permeates this Psalm, as it does His temple and His people. Like a strong wall around a city - God is our refuge. God’s presence and not the physical walls were the true protection for Jerusalem against her enemies. Around the city was a chaos - a Tsunami of danger - The sea like a monster swallowing up mountains - and yet, God who created this world - the same God is the refuge of His people. In the year 701 BC Jerusalem was surrounded by the Assyrian army but God rescued the city when Hezekiah repented and turned to God. We read this in Isaiah 37. This is most likely the historical context for this Psalm. Notice that God not only surrounds the city, but He is present in the midst of the city (5, 7). While outside the city of Jerusalem is a watery chaos, inside the city flows the water of life. The river - a sign of hope and life is what makes the people inside glad. During that Assyrian invasion in 701 BC, King Hezekiah brought water into he city through a water channel so that even when they were besieged and surrounded by enemies, there was provision inside the city. The Psalmist compares this to God’s presence - What are the fears, troubles, difficulties that surround you today? How does the assurance that God’s presence surrounds his people and God’s presence is among his people, comfort you today?
2. God’s sovereignty over all of creation and all nations. (vs 6, 9, 10).
It was important for the believers in the OT to be reminded that the Living God was not a local god of Israel. He rules over all creation - all nations, all people. He makes wars to cease - the word in Hebrew is the same word for Sabbath - or rest. God brings Sabbath rest to all the nations. God brings true peace to all the nations - Sabbath and Shalom go hand in hand. This God - God of Sabbath, God of Shalom, Sovereign ruler of the Universe is in the midst of His people.
It is one thing to believe that God is with us and yet another, to trust that He is also in control of everything. The Bible presents us with a God who is both powerful and yet intimate. He is transcendent and also immanent. He is infinite and personal. Many religious have ideas of god or gods to either one - either all powerful but no intimacy is possible with them - or they are either personal but finite. God in the Bible is infinite and personal. This sovereign God is in the midst of His people. It is the same assurance that the Apostle Paul has in the NT when he reminds the believers in Rome (Romans 8:31) - If God is for us - who cane against us? Considering the upheaval in our world, think about how the Psalmist finds strength in God’s rule over all. God is with us, He rules no matter what, therefore we can be secure in Him.
3. God speaks!
In verse 10 - we find the voice of the Psalmist interrupted by God’s voice. “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”Sometimes we need to allow God to interrupt our words. Who is God speaking to?
2 opinions among scholars and Bible translators:
God is speaking to His people calling them to “Be still.”
God is silencing the chaos in the world and the nations of the earth by commanding them to “desist”or “halt.”Both these aspects help us in understanding this verse.
God is speaking to His people to “Be still and know”that He is God (and they are not). This is not the first time that the people of Israel have heard these words in their history. Hundreds of years before the composition of this Psalm, when God delivered His people from Egypt, Moses speaks these words to the people when they are caught between the Red Sea and Pharoah’s armies. In Ex 14:13, 14 we read
“13But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. 14The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
Many centuries after Moses, King Jehoshaphat is surrounded by enemies. He is told:
2 Chr 20: 17 This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”
God had made a covenant with His people and called them into a relationship with Him -a relationship based on His loving kindness and faithfulness - and He was going to keep it. And because He was sufficient for them, because He was for them, because He was powerful enough to take care of them, His people could trust Him. We too are called into a covenant relationship with God through Christ - we are God’s family and He is committed to His children. It is from such relationship we are called to be still. To be still is not a call to passivity or apathy. Rather it is a call to be poised before God. Ready to listen and do what he tells us to do. So to be still for us could be - “Poised for action.” God is doing something in our world, just as He was doing something in the Psalmist’s days - We need to be poised - like a sprinter waiting at the starting block ready for the signal to sprint, or like an archer with a bow and arrow, or like a wildlife photographer. To be still is a call to be God-centred and not depend on our own ability to make things happen. God calls us to focus on Him. God helped the Israelites when there was nothing they could do about Pharoah’s army behind them and the red sea before them. God helped Jehoshaphat without any of his soldiers having to fight. God helped Hexekiah who was threatened by the Assyrian Army. In all these cases - they were called to look to God - Some were called to see - some were called to praise and some were called to repent - but all were called to reading their focus towards God! Someone has said that “Faith gives the soul a view of the great God.”
ii. The second way of looking at this command “Be still”is to see it as a rebuke to the chaos surrounding God’s people. The same voice of God that spoke at the beginning of creation and into the darkness- “Let there by Light”now speaks and sciences the chaos in the world. We read a parallel story in the New Testament when the disciples are in a boat with Jesus during a sea storm. Let’s read it -
Mark 4: 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.
38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
40 He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?"
41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Who is this? The winds obey Him? Who is this who speaks to creation and it obeys? Only one answer - This is God with us - Emmanuel!
Jesus’rebuke of the storm revealed who He was - This was an epiphany - “Be still and know that I am God, I am exalted…”When Jesus rebukes the storm - the same greek word is used as when Jesus casts our demons. It is a picture of muzzling an animal or beast. The sea, seen as a monster, could not swallow the disciples in the boat, because Jesus had muzzled it. The demons had to leave people because Jesus had bound them. Evil is restrained in this world because God is still active and cares for Humanity. In Christ, God silences all the powers of this world which try to overwhelm us.
In the light of all that we have seen this consider in what way is God calling you to be centred on Him?
What is God doing in our world for which he is calling you to be “poised for action”?
What are some practical ways in which God is calling you to nurture His presence in your life ?
Maybe God is calling you to set aside some regular time for prayer, to study His Word - to move in small steps of obedience to something He would ask you to do.
Maybe God is calling you to join together with other brothers and sisters and form prayer groups where you can seek God together as a community.