OVERVIEW OF THE PSALM by Bishop Dr. J. Akin Atere

CHURCH OF NIGERIA

(Anglican Communion)

PROVINCIAL STANDING COMMITTEE MEETING

BIBLE STUDY 1                                                                       SEPTEMBER 19, 2018.

THEME: GOD, OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH

TEXT: PSALM 46

DAY 1

TOPIC: OVERVIEW OF THE PSALM

INTRODUCTION

This was Martin Luther’s favourite Psalm during the dark and dangerous period of the Reformation. When the enemies of truth appeared to triumph; when disaster seemed to overcome the labour of the reformers. Friends of the reformation were dispirited, disheartened and sad. Luther would turn to his trusted friend, Philip Malancthon and to other fellow reformers “Come let us sing the 46th Psalm and let the devil do his worse.” This was what informed his great hymn “A mighty fortress is our God…” No Psalm adequately expresses the tremendous truth that God’s presence and power are with us in all circumstances more than Psalm 46.

The author of this Psalm is unknown because there is no indication that David is the author, it has been attributed to the “Son of Korah” but it could be in the time of David. What is evidently clear is that; it was written when there was danger, some impending calamity or war. When nations were confused, when Jerusalem was besieged and threatened.

Nothing meets the needs of the case quite so well as does the great deliverance that took place in the days of Hezekiah (701 BC) when Sennacherib’s forces were disastrously destroyed after having directly threatened the city of Jerusalem. Isa 36:2; 2 Kings 19:35

The central idea in the Psalm is that, amidst this general convulsion among the nations of the earth, the people of God were saved.

GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH – v.1: God is for us as a place to which we may flee for safety in time of danger. A source of strength to us when in despair. The word ‘refuge’ means “to flee”, “take shelter”. The idea in psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” is that people of God, in time of danger find a refuge in God – Internally Displaced Person (IDP).

A VERY PRESENT HELP: The word ‘help’ means aid or assistance and the word ‘trouble’ cover all that can come upon us which would give us anxiety or sorrow. Whether inward or outward, the Lord helps his people to bear in time of challenges, he who made heaven and the earth. He will help presently, speedily and effectively. 2 Kings 18:32-33 “Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of read and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live ad not die. But do not listen to Hezekiah, lest he persuade you, saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?”. Whereas, he must have heard that following God’s plan, the children of God defeated the city of Jericho. Only 300 Gideon soldiers defeated 135,000 Midianites heavily equipped armies (Judges 7:5-15). The fight between Goliath and David showed the unprecedented defeat you can have when God is present to fight your battle. 1 Sam. 17:8-39. The battle of Armageddon is coming, Jesus Himself will lead the army to fight with the beast, the false prophets and kings of the earth. Rev. 19:11-14. They will be casted into the lake of fire Rev. 19:20 “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

THOUGH THE EARTH BE REMOVED: This may either mean. “Though the earth should change its place or its very structure in these convulsion or though it should perish Psalm 102:26 “They will perish, but You will endure: Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like cloak You will change them, and they will be changed” The people of God should not be afraid, even if this persecution, killings, hatred, etc continue and should be extended so far as to destroy the very earth itself. God would remain our friend and protector. Has God done anything to confirm this promise? Yes. The faith of Daniel was tested in the Den of Lions. Dan 6:15-28. The three brave Hebrew men Dan 3:16-28.

THE MOUNTAINS BE CARRIED INTO THE SEA: This implied that they would not be afraid though the mountains, the most fixed and firm things on the earth, should be uprooted and sunk into the ocean, (nothing in this earth is stable), in any embarrassing state of the earth, any threatened danger they would still have confidence in God, he only cannot change. Paul asked in Rom.8:35-39, what shall separate us from the love of God? Is it trouble, hardship, famine, danger, sword “for your (God’s) sake we face death all day long, we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” He advised on what we should engaged in when we suffer for the sake of our belief Rom.5:3 “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance”, through suffering you become more aware of God’s strength in your life. 2 Cor.12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. Some of the following passages suggests what our attitude should be at challenging time (Hab. 3:17-18; Matt.5:12; Acts 5:40-41; Acts 16:23-25; 1 Pet.4:12-13).

 RIGHT EARLY – v.6(b): The poetic idea here seems to refer to the day as having turned away from night, given an allusion to what occurred in the  camp of the Assyrians, when the Angel of the Lord has smitten them  in the night and by the morning, when people arose 185,000 soldiers were all dead. Isa.37:36 “Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses – all dead.” God has assured His church of His special presence and concern for her. He has set up His tabernacle and has undertaken the protection; therefore she shall not be moved, nor destroyed. The Church shall survive the world and be in bliss. It is built upon the rock and the gate of hell shall not prevail against it. Whatever Christians or church is passing through are night periods. Psalm 30:5(b) “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” When God was to deliver His people, it was in the morning. He commanded Moses in Exodus 9:13 “And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say unto him, thus saith the lord God of the Hebrews, let my people go, that they may serve me.” In the book of Judges 6, after Gideon had an encounter with angel of God and obeyed God’s instruction. He was asked to pull down  his father’s idol and  built an altar for the Lord. He was afraid to do it in the day time but waited  till the night (vigil). In verse 28 “And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down …”

 HE UTTERED HIS VOICE – v.6: God spoke, he gave command, expressed His will. There is power in the voice of God Gen.1:3 “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light”, Hab. 3:6 “He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.” Psalm 29:3-9 speaks of the voice of God. Psalm 46:6 “The nation made uproar, the kingdom tottered; God raised His voice, the earth melted”. God’s voice like a sound of many waters and the earth shone with glory. Ezek. 43:2. The manifestation of God’s voice is also found in Jer. 10:13 “When he utters His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; ‘and He causes the vapours to ascend  from the ends of the earth. He makes lighting for the rain, He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”; Rev.4:1; Dan.4:31; Matt.17:5; Heb.12:26 “Whose voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, saying, ‘yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”

The Psalmist described the earth been melted and dissolve before God, everything became still. The danger passed away by Gods command and the raging world became calm, showing the absolute power of God to control all the raging elements on land and ocean by a voice. Psalm 33:9 “For he spoke, and it was done, He commanded, and it stood fast”,107:25; Matt.8:26 “But he said to them, ‘Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?’ Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.”

God is having control over all armies on earth and in heaven, therefore we have nothing to fear Psalm 46:11. He is on our side, he is our defender Isa 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel”;Isa 8:8. “He will pass through Judah, He will overflow and pass over, he will reach up to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.”

HE MAKETH WARS TO CEASE –v.10: The overthrow of the Assyrian army would put an end to all the wars then raging in the world. The Assyrian empire was then the most mighty in the world. It has already overrun many of the mighty and small kingdoms of the world. Isa 37:18-20 and it hoped to complete its conquests and to secure the ascendancy over the entire world. But the world’s challenge then was that if the vast army so feared, if over thrown would bring about universal peace. “He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.” (Isa 114:6-7).  The way it happened was divine and supernatural. God breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder. i.e. He makes them useless as bow that is broken is of no value likewise a spear that is cut into parts.

 BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. The Hebrew word     רפה      râphâh means “to cast down” “to let fall” “to let hang down”; it could also means relax, slackened, especially the hands. Not putting forth exertion i.e. leaving matters with God, being without anxiety about any issue. Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” We are to be calm, confiding, be in trustful state of mind in view of the divine presence and power. God is able to defend His people when surrounded by dangers. The evidence that He is God is seen throughout the world Isaiah 37:36 “Then the angel of the lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses all dead”. God will be exalted among the heathen i.e. Nations that do not worship God shall see his works with full proof that God is worthy of universal adoration. Dan.3:28-29; 4:1-3,37; Ex.9:16; Rom.9:17

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1a. Nigeria has been adjudged as one of the most praying nations of the world. If it is true: Why are we still in this political, economic, social and security mess? Psalm 66:18, Mark 6:1-6; James 4:3; Ezekiel 14:3; John 13:34; 2 Chron. 7:14.

  1. Why has God not destroyed Nigeria? Hos. 11:9
  2. Because God is our refuge and strength: Does it suggest that we should fold our arms and do nothing in our battle? Jer. 51:20; Matt.24:6; Rom.12:19; 2 Chron. 10:4; Zech 10:5; Deut. 20:1-4; Matt.26:51-52.
  3. Which areas of Psalm 46 will be relevant for our preparation and to face 2019, Nigeria election year?

CONCLUSION

The Lord of Host is with us! As applied to the invasion of Sennacherib, for all that occurred left the assurance that Jehovah, God of hosts was with His people. He had interposed in time of danger, he had saved his city and nation, he had overthrown one of the most mighty armies that had ever been assembled. He caused the boasting conqueror to retrace his steps, delivered nations from all danger and had shown how easy in ways which God could not have anticipated to bring deliverance. God has power to defend his people against the most formidable enemies and that all their interests are safe in His hands. Expect the demonstration of this power in Nigeria very soon.

MEMORY VERSE: Psalm 18:2

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”