Tuesday, June 05, 2012

A very present help in trouble

William MacDonald tells* how during the First World War young men in an island community in the Scottish Highlands were being called up for military service in increasing numbers. Each time contingents of them gathered at the pier to sail to the mainland, friends and relatives assembled there and sang:

God is our refuge and our strength,
in straits a present aid;
Therefore, although the earth remove,
we will not be afraid:
Though hills amidst the seas be cast;
though waters roaring make,
And troubled be; yea, though the
hills by swelling seas do shake.

A river is, whose streams make glad
the city of our God;
The holy place, wherein the Lord
most high hath his abode.
God in the midst of her doth dwell;
nothing shall her remove:
The Lord to her a helper will,
and that right early prove. . .

That is, of course, the Scottish metric version of Psalm 46 - the psalm that begins "God is our refuge and strength." Psalm 46 prompted Katharina von Schlegel to write the hymn Be still, my soul, and Martin Luther to write the famous hymn A mighty fortress is our God. When discouraging news came - and Luther had his share of discouraging news - he would say to his friends "Come, let us sing the 46th psalm."

The days of the First World War were a more godly age. Nowadays many have turned away from God, and society is descending into chaos and disorder. But God is unchanging.

Psalm 46 continues: "There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God." That river speaks of God's peace, God's love and God's provision. These things are not pie in the sky, but real. Not everyone has them - but they are the daily experience of those who walk with Him.

God forces Himself on no one. But He is available for those who seek Him.

"If you seek him, he will be found by you."

"Seek, and you will find."

* Believer's Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995, p620f.