Summary: God is dependable through all of life’s problems.
A SHOULDER TO LEAN ON
INTRO: Life can be brutal. We experience grief and see our friends experience sudden calamities. A tornado or fire wipes out a family dream. Cancer strikes, and long, drawn-out suffering begins. Friends and family let us down through broken promises. They are not there when we need them most. But don’t get discouraged! There is hope. God is dependable through all of life’s problems. The psalmist declared this truth to people who were facing physical danger.
In a society that declares that we can solve our problems by ourselves and urges us to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we need to hear the psalmist declare that God is dependable. He is our “shoulder to lean on” through all of our problems. But how is this so? How is God dependable through all of life’s problems?
I. GOD IS DEPENDABLE THROUGH HIS PROTECTION OVER US (vv. 1-3).
The psalmist declared that God is our refuge even when what seems permanent and unchangeable does change.After great tragedy strikes, God protects us. Through friends and family, God’s protection over us often feels like a blanket. God does care for His children. When what seems permanent– employment, life, our home–comes to an end, we should have no fear because of the protection of God. God’s dependance is seen through His protection over us.
II. GOD IS DEPENDABLE THROUGH HIS PRESENCE WITH US (vv. 4-7).
The psalmist declared that there was a river that flowed making glad “the city of God.” That river was the very presence of God, which provided security for His people. The idea of the presence of God with His people is one of the basic elements of the Israelite religion. He showed His presence to Moses and the Israelites as they came out of Egypt. He led them during the day by a cloud and at night by a pillar of fire. In this way, the people knew that God was with them.
One of the names of Jesus is Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” We who trust Jesus have “God with us” at all times. He is our “shoulder to lean on.” Therefore, we will not be like Jacob who left his homeland and was surprised to encounter God in another country (see Genesis 28:16 (quickview) ). God is dependable through His protection over us and His presence with us.
III. GOD IS DEPENDABLE THROUGH HIS POSITION OVER THE EARTH (vv. 8-10).
Vv. 8-9 depict a scene of awful destruction, for apparently the nations had come willfully against God’s power and, inevitably, had lost. We are told to “be still” or literally “cease striving” against God and proclaim Him as Lord of the earth. He is in ultimate control of the affairs of human history.
Genesis 1 (quickview)  declares emphatically that God created the earth. As Creator He has the right to be the only one exalted on the earth. When we do not “relax” in God, we tend to be dependent on ourselves and what we can do with our own strength. Even when we do this, God comes to us softly and says: “Why are you trying to live life in your own strength. Relax and let me live it with you.”
CONC: In a world in which people are concerned with themselves above anything else, it’s no wonder that many lean on things other than God to get them through life and the troubles and struggles that life contains. Through all of life’s circumstances, whose shoulder are you leaning on?