Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the 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 of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Psalm 46:8-11 (NKJV)
The reality that Scripture gives us is that God sovereignly rules the universe, including what happens in our lives. Now we can take the reality that Scripture presents to us and become Eeyore Christians that mope around with gloom and doom in our speech. Or we can let this reality conquer our fears and lead us to push deeper into God so that we will trust Him more. The Psalmist also recognizes this reality and chooses to push deeper into God and trust Him.
The Psalmist invites the people of God to come and behold the mighty works of the Lord. When we trust that God is the sovereign ruler of the universe we should be looking for His mighty deeds everywhere.
The Psalmist gives us some examples of the mighty works of God that he’d seen. First, he tells us that God has made desolations in the earth. While I don’t know that we can positively know what specific incidents the psalmist is talking about there are some incidents that might fit this description. It makes sense to me that the psalmist would be referring to once great cities and nations that opposed Israel and were now in ruins or at least a shadow of their former glorious selves.
Egypt would be a good example of this. Before Pharaoh made the Israelite slaves, Egypt seems to have been one of the most powerful nations on the planet. However, after ten plagues, several of which were extremely devastating, and having a huge portion of their army destroyed as the Red Sea came crashing down upon them, they were never quite the same again. From what I can tell there were at least a couple of times when they were major world powers but not quite like they had been before God overthrew them delivering His people.
History is filled with examples of nations that rose to great power and then were devastated by one thing or another. Acts 17:26 tells us that God sovereignly determines what nations will rise and when they will fall. Right now, the news is filled with all kinds of turmoil and unrest in Arabic nations. Either we can look at this in fear not knowing how things will turn out or we can look at this in faith knowing that God will determine the fate of these nations.
The psalmist goes on to say that God makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth. He describes the wars ceasing as bows being broken, spears being cut in two and chariots being burned in the fire. While bows, spears and chariots don’t seem like mighty weapons to us, they were the rifles, machine guns and tanks of this age. The picture is that God’s power is greater than the military power of any nation and He can bring peace at any time He chooses.
This leads us to ask why He doesn’t do this. The answer is simple; He’s not ready to do this yet. However, Scripture teaches that this time will come after many mighty displays of His power. If the events of Revelation are meant to be understood as real, although future, events then there will come a time when God will demonstrate to the unbelieving world that He is the sovereign ruler of creation before ushering in a thousand year reign of peace where Christ will rule as supreme. When we trust that God is the sovereign ruler of the universe we will obey Christ’s command to look for this coming day.