Beckett: Our God will Fight for Us

Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts.
Yahweh of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come, behold the works of Yahweh, how He has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Yahweh of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

As is the case in Psalm 118, God’s refuge and strength is the psalmist’s reasoning for the futility of fear in the face of trouble. The psalmist describes a twofold trouble here: trouble amongst creation and trouble amongst man.

The psalmist has trouble even though the mountains tremble (earthquakes) and the waters “roar and foam” (flood, tsunami, hurricane). The nations rage in war and the psalmist has no fear because God can “melt” the earth with merely His voice, so their armies are no match for God.

This mighty God dwells in the midst of His people—”the city of God,” also known as Zion, which is a symbol of God’s people. While the waters of the earth rage, there is “a river”—a lifegiving water—amongst God’s people. This is why the psalmist can say, “Yahweh of hosts is with us,” for He dwells with His people. So then, remember His historical works—how He has ended wars and shattered armies, for He is Yahweh of hosts (armies).

During the opposition to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, the Judeans feared, “‘The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall'” (Nehemiah 4:10). The people feared the opposition against them and felt they were too weak. Yet Nehemiah assures them, “‘Do not be afraid of them. Remember Yahweh, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes'” (v. 14).

Soon, God interrupted the opposing force’s plan to attack Jerusalem (v. 15), and Nehemiah encourages the people again, “Our God will fight for us” (v. 20). Indeed, God fought for them, for they were able to finish building the wall in spite of this heavy opposition.

In our world today, it seems as if matters are getting worse. Natural disasters are continuing and increasing, nations are continuing to rage against each other; even our own communities with the increase in mass shootings, police brutality, and civil discord due to political folly. It all seems hopeless.

So long as one continues to place one’s trust in the world, it will always seem hopeless. Yet as Christians, we have a hope the rest of the world does not have—the hope of Jesus Christ. At the time of this psalm, God dwelled in the tabernacle in the midst of His people. God ultimately dwelled amongst His people in the flesh in Jesus Christ (John 1:14, “dwelt among us” literally translates to “tabernacled among us”).

Our God will fight for us. He did fight for us as He was flogged, carried His cross to Mt. Calvary, and thereupon died with our sins upon Him. Jesus fought for us. It didn’t come in the usual form of fighting—with armies, which is surprising considering God is Yahweh of hosts. Rather, it came in the form of “the folly of what we preach,” the cross (1 Corinthians 1:21).

Jesus’ fighting came in the form of suffering—it came in grace. And God is still with us today. Because Jesus is the Word made flesh, He is always present among us. Wherever you find the Word faithfully preached, therefore, there you will find Christ.

Therefore, as the mountains continue to quake and the waters continue to roar and foam, let us continually draw near to the Word. We may fear during these disasters, wars, and rumours of wars, but let us gather together near the Word since we have been washed in the lifegiving waters of Baptism.

Our God will fight for us. He will come on a white stallion to save us from all sin and evil (Revelation 19:11), and we shall dwell in the City of God with the River of Life therein (Revelation 22:1-5).

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