Summary: There are people filled with turmoil and pain and only God can reveal to them what real peace is and that God is in control.
Psalm 46 reads, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolation he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
The text today sounds pretty powerful doesn’t it? We hear of roaring waters and falling kingdoms. We hear of shattering spears and burning shields. That is all and well just for those folks 3,000 years ago right? Not often do we deal with the physical world around us collapsing. We might have to go downstairs to take shelter during a tornado warning but we don’t usually deal with an enemy nation invading our country. Even though that is true we still deal with tragedy. Someone close to us has passed away. Someone we know has just divorced. Some child has been abused. More often than not we look at those situations and they are happening to someone else. But we know that one day, if it hasn’t happened already, we could experience some real turmoil in our lives.
Living in an alcoholic home is not easy. Sometimes people don’t even know that there is something wrong with that type of family setting until years down the road. When I was growing up it was a constant factor in how we lived day to day. As a child I could hear my father coming home and walking up the front steps after work or whatever he had been doing.
After a while I began to notice that there was an angry walk or there was a sober walk. More often than not it was an angry walk up the steps. Every bone in my body would cry, “Run! Hide!” But I knew that Dad would finally call me down and if I did not come it would be worse. Sometimes those angry footsteps would come through the door and walk right back to the bedroom and retire for the night. But whatever the case, my mother, my brothers and I would be on pins and needles until we went to bed.
The most difficult part of growing up with that lifestyle was never knowing what peace was until I fell asleep. Sometimes even that wasn’t a guarantee. Especially if my father came home late. Then no matter what you were doing, eating or sleeping, he would get you up and start with terrible verbal, mental and physical abuse that only those who know what an angry drunk is, can understand. Peace never knocked on our door.
So even though we may never know what a typhoon is or what an exploding volcano can do we all probably have parts in our lives that have periods of turmoil and turbulence. That is where understanding today’s scripture is so important in light of tragedies that may knock on our door.
Here in today’s text we see that the writer is fairly familiar with the city of Jerusalem. Like most cities of its time it had a strong wall surrounding it to protect them from enemies just walking into town and creating havoc. These walls had a number of gates that could be shut and barred against any invading armies. It was not just a city, it was as our author tells us – it was a fortress.
But looking at this passage do we see the author bragging up how strong the walls are or how mighty their city’s army is? No we don’t. What do we see the author telling us? He is telling us how strong the city is spiritually. Armies can destroy and conquer. But the human heart is beyond sword or fire if we know where its strength lies. Here our author gives us a spiritual tour of the heart of Jerusalem. First of all we see the foundation of the city in verse 5 where it says, “God is within her, she will not fall.” Here is our foundation to this inner peace – it is God.