(Sermon notes for Cromer on 12/3/17)
For the director of music. (Don’t know who he was.) Of the Sons of Korah. (Ps 42-49 all by them – Levites, descendants of Korah who rebelled against Moses, now worship leaders.) According to alamoth. (Literally ‘young women’. A woman’s choir?) A song.
v1 There will be Trouble. Jesus: Matt 24:6-13.
Paul: ’We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.’
Today: Christians all over the world experiencing war, famine, floods, epidemics. Us: Brexit, Trump, uncertainty over the future, relationship problems, cancer and other diseases, trouble! We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Response? Do we run – escape? Drugs, alcohol, holidays – let’s eat, drink…? Or stand and fight – prepare for the worst: save, look after ourselves, eat healthily, do more exercise? Do we blame God for allowing troubles to come, and turn away from him?
Psalm 46: when troubles come we need a safe place to run to, and we need the strength to win through.
v1. Refuge. Strength. Ever present help. In trouble.
vs2-3 Natural disasters, impossible for us to cope with? ‘We will not fear’.
‘Don’t be afraid’ – lots of times in the Bible.
Jesus: ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more.’ The fear of death probably underlies all kinds of fear – self preservation is a basic instinct for all animals. But God is the one who decides when we shall die – he already knows the day of each of our deaths. Jesus promised that all who trust in him shall have eternal life; death is the gateway to glory. Paul tells us God works all things together for good for those who love him. In this life there may be trouble, but God will not let us be tested beyond our ability to endure, but will always provide a way of escape. We may suffer, but we will conquer with God as our refuge and strength.
vs4-7 Human threats. Possible historical context: Hezekiah when the Assyrians beseiged Jerusalem. Tunnel: water from a spring, Gihon, to the pool of Siloam. Assyrians beseiged, but in answer to prayer God diverted their attention elsewhere.
‘There is a river’ – the flow of water from Gihon could never be described as a river. Visions of the new Jerusalem, in Ezekiel and in Revelation, include the river of life – that’s what really makes glad the city of God, the Jerusalem that comes from God out of heaven, the church, the bride. Jesus used that imagery in a different way – whoever believes in me, out of his heart shall flow… God is with us. In us.
‘Break of day’ – that’s when battles usually began. God’s help is from the beginning of the troubles.
‘Nations in uproar’ – can apply to communities, or families.
Don’t be afraid: the Lord of hosts (angel armies), the God of Jacob the deceiver, is with us, our fortress. Powerful. Merciful. (Selah)
‘Desolations’: wars end with victory – and destruction. The war over evil – evil cannot be allowed to run away and hide, it must be seen for what it is and destroyed. Costly.
‘Be still’: don’t panic! ‘Know’. ‘Will’: the future is certain.
Whatever will happen, right now God is with us, our fortress.
Trust in God’s goodness at work in us and for us.
Trust in God’s strength, living in us.
Don’t be afraid to take the battle to the enemy. Overcome with good. Help the famine victims. Be peace-makers.