God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV)
No one likes to live in fear. Yet many, if not most people, do. They are so accustomed to living in fear that they assume it’s impossible to live without fear. Yet the psalmist said he could live without fear because he knew that God was his refuge. Notice the way he describes God in these verses.
God is my refuge
The first thing he says is that God is his refuge. God as our refuge pictures Him as a place of safety we can go when we are scared or maybe under attack. If a refuge or a fortress was sturdy enough, no enemies could conquer you while you were in it. This imagery is found frequently in the psalms.
Think about the many times you’ve experienced God as your refuge in the midst of trials, hardships and storms. Think about the comfort you received there. Think about the safety that you felt there. When I think of God as my refuge and my fortress, I think back to when Liz was in the hospital. God was pretty much the only thing that kept us from melting down. We knew that no matter what the doctors said or the test results showed, our God was with us. He would take care of Liz and He would take care of us. He was our place of refuge where we could run to when everything else around us was falling down. With God as our refuge, we didn’t have to be afraid.
God is my strength
The basic idea of the word that is used here is to be made strong. It’s most often used as being strong in battle. There are instances of it being used as God giving strength to someone. That seems to be the idea here. In the New Testament we are told that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).
Have you ever really thought about what that verse is saying? It literally means that we really can do everything and anything that Christ wants us to do. Let’s be honest, some of the things that we are called on to do as Christians are pretty intimidating. At least they are for me. I think about being a dad raising girls in the age in which we live. I want my girls to be pure, filled with faith, love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and be fully devoted followers of Christ. The world we live in isn’t necessarily conducive toward these things. Yet I know it’s possible to do this because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Think about reaching the lost for Christ. There thousands of people all around us who are heading for eternal destruction and Christ is the only hope they have to escape this destruction. Our community at large is fairly hard-hearted toward the Gospel. I don’t mean they violently reject it. They just don’t care because they are pretty convinced they are okay just like they are. At times, it feels as though reaching people with the Gospel is impossible. Yet I know it’s possible to do this because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We can do these things and more because Christ will strengthen us to do it. We can all look over our lives and see times where God strengthened us to do far more than we could have ever done on our own. We can probably look over our lives and instances where God has strengthened us to do things we never thought we could do. When God is our refuge and strength, we don’t have to be afraid.
He is a very present help in trouble.
Once again, we ought to be struck by the language of the psalm. God is a very present help in our time of need. This reminds us that God is not passive when hardship or trials come into our lives. He is there and actively working to help us in these times. Psalm 18 actually pictures God coming down to where we are and getting personally involved to help us.
Of course, the Bible is filled with examples of God getting personally involved to help His people. We could read about the way God delivered His people out of Egypt. We could read about the way He delivered the Promised Land into Joshua’s hand. We could look at the many instances of God delivering His people in Judges. I think Judges may be some of the most encouraging instances of God delivering His people because His people were not necessarily faithful to Him during this time period.
The greatest example of God being a very present help in trouble is Jesus Christ. The greatest trouble we could ever have is the trouble of sin and the coming judgment. Though God would have had every right to leave us in our sins and let us justly suffer His wrath, He didn’t. Instead, He came up with a plan to redeem us that required His Son to die on the cross for our sins. If God will be our help when the cost to Himself is so great, shouldn’t we trust Him to be our help in everything else?
The result of God being our refuge, strength and very present help in trouble is that we will not fear no matter what happens. If God is our refuge then we should not fear. God’s desire to be our refuge and His willingness to help us doesn’t shift with the circumstances of life. Since that is the case then our holy confidence in God shouldn’t shift with the circumstances of life. No matter what the news says, the economy does or the test results say, we can live confidently and unafraid because God is our refuge.
For further study read Psalm 91.
How is God described (verse 1-2)?
What does this mean for us?
What are some things God will do?
What promises has God given?