International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending October 17, 2010
Purpose: To be confident of God's presence with us in times of trouble
Scripture Text: Psalm 46:1-7 (NRSV)
(1)God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(2)Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
(3) though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah
(4)There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. It shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.
(6)The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.
(7)The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
In the nation of Israel cities of refuge were used as a place where you could go if you had harmed someone and wanted to escape the wrath of family members who may have wanted revenge, there were 6 different cities that were set up to receive those that were fleeing from punishment or revenge and they were safe as long as they remained in these cities.
The Psalmist recognizes the need for a place of refuge, and he finds that place in the presence of God. He recognizes God as providing the refuge and the help in times of trouble, serving much the same peace and protection that one would get who was fleeing for his life, and seeking a city where he would be protected.
One difference between God's comfort and refuge and the refuge which those 6 cities offered is God's refuge is also available even for natural disasters. No matter the reason for the need of a refuge, being sought by others, flood, earthquake regardless of the catastrophe, God is able to offer refuge.
The first three verse of the psalm is about the refuge that God offers to His children, the next few verses talks about the city of Jerusalem. The city of Zion, (Jerusalem) was thought by the Jews to offer a special place of protection, because it was there that God resided, in the mind of the nation. Although no river actually flows in the city, the psalmist saw it as God's power and peace flowing like a river within the city walls. The vision represented both God's awesome power and God's ability to protect those that were in need of shelter and protection from the outside world.
The psalmist paints a picture not unlike today's world, one with nations in turmoil and wars on every side, it seems as if the whole world is about to collapse. God becomes the only stabilizing force in the entire world. The Lord of host represents God's mighty army of angels ready to do His will and to bring order out of chaos. God's power is in His word, “he utters His voice, and the earth melts.” John says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” God accomplished all of His creation by speaking. The Lord of host is now the Son of God incarnate, a descendent of Jacob. He is with us in the form of Emanuel, Savior, Redeemer, the Only Begotten. We have no reason to fear, it is just as He promised.
We have witnessed many different catastrophes over the past few years from tsunamis, to earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, and in almost every situation God, through His Church and His people, His presence has been there to help.
“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.” truly one of the great hymns of the church.