Last Updated: September 13, 2001
The following meditation was delivered on Sept. 12, 2001, the evening after the terrorist attack on World Trade Center and Pentagon. May God protect His church, and bless our nation!
People of God, yesterday our entire nation looked on in shock and horror as one tragic scene after another unfolded before us. One man described yesterday's events as being surreal. I think that sums it up perfectly. It's like you can't believe what you're seeing--you can't believe this was really happening--it's almost like you're in a dream. That's exactly what one New Yorker said, 'I keep waiting for the moment when I'm going to wake up from my nightmare, but I never do'!
As we know, after the first plane crashed, the details were sketchy. One man who actually worked in the World Trade Center, said he heard and felt like an explosion. When someone told him that a plane had struck the building he thought it was just a small aircraft. Little did he know what had just happened, or what was about to happen.
Shortly after the first explosion, yet another airliner carrying even more innocent passengers was used like a guided missile, and sliced right through the walls of the South tower of the World Trade Center (if you've watched that scene on tape--it's remarkable. The entire plane disappeared into the side of the building, then exploded. How horrible!).
Then, in just a matter of 30 minutes, America watched on live TV, as both 110 story towers tumbled to the ground, in a thick cloud of white ash. Those images will be indelibly etched upon our minds. Today, about all that remains is a 100 foot tall heap of rubble--of mangled and twisted iron, and broken concrete.
The sick irony of it is, we're used to seeing scenes like that. We watch it on TV all the time. But normally, it's Hollywood. It's fantasy. With special effects, miniature building, fake planes, and professional stunt men. And, even as we adults and kids watch those movies, we constantly remind ourselves, that this is just TV! It's not real. No one really got hurt. No one really got killed. This was all just make-believe.
But yesterday was much different, for adults and especially for our children! Yesterday was real--as real as it gets. Boys and girls, real people (just like us) were in those planes, real people were working in those towers, real people were in the Pentagon. Real firemen, real policemen were trying to help! Thousands of real people got killed!
As a result of yesterday's events, we were shaken. Families were shaken. Many people whom I talked to yesterday were visibly upset by these events. Our entire nation was troubled/upset! It was tough to swallow--America, a country who prides herself in her strength, her freedom, her security, her invulnerability, was not only vulnerable, but for a few moments yesterday--was totally helpless! Even the military couldn't stop what was happening!
As a result, many Americans are frightened. Even this morning at Orv's station, I overheard one lady tell another, 'I just don't feel safe any more', and we're way out here in Hills, MN! But, who can blame her? What happened yesterday could happen again next week, or next month, only next time maybe in Chicago, or in LA, or Seattle.
This was an eye opener for millions of people across our nation, and for billions across the globe. It reminded us that the world in which we live in today is not safe. Even America, as mighty as she is, is not immune from terrorist attacks or from all out war. So, our nation's fear, our alarm, our panic, seems to be well founded.
However, in the light of all that has happened yesterday, in the light of all that is bound to transpire over the next few days and weeks (retaliation), God's Word tells us something we desperately need to hear right now. It tells us Do not fear, do not be afraid! Psalm 46 tells us that we have nothing to fear from yesterday. Nothing to fear tonight. Nothing to fear tomorrow. Why is that? That's what we're going to figure out!
Let's turn our attention to God's Word, as The Church's Sings of Her Security!
1) The Simple Certainty of Her Security
2) The Ever-present Source of Her Security
3) The World-wide Extension of Her Security
1. The Simple Certainty of Her Security
People of God, the Psalms are a very unique book of the Bible. Contrary to what many people believe, these are not the songs of a nation. These are not the songs of national Israel, of ethnic Jews. No. These are the songs of spiritual Israel. These are the songs of Zion, of Christ's own Church.
These divinely inspired songs sing about the full range of the feelings & experiences of the child of God. How is it to walk with God? How is it to suffer for righteousness sake? How it is to confess our sins and experience the forgiveness of God? How is it be overwhelmed with praise and thanksgiving to God? Just turn to the Psalms and see!
So, whenever we read a Psalm, one of our duties, one of the things we must ask ourselves is this, What exactly is going on in this Psalm? What experience is being sung about here? What is the Psalmist feeling? Our answer is right there in his words.
Looking at Psalm 46, what would you say the Psalmist, the church, is singing about? Is the church complaining about something here? Is the church confessing sin? Is the church giving thanks? Is the church teaching something?
I'm sure you'd agree with me that none of those descriptions really fit what's going on here in Psalm 46. There's actually something different going on--something exciting! Something exuberant! Something that surprises us! The church is actually boasting! She is bragging. The church is singing in self-assurance. The church is singing a chorus of confidence!
Verse 2 states we will not fear! And in verse 5 She ( the church) will not fall! Pretty strong words. Perhaps, in the light of all that has just happened, those words are too strong for the church to sing. Yet notice, these words arise out of faith. Not cockiness. Not arrogance. Above all not self-reliance!
These words arise out of a simple certainty of who God is. God is our refuge and our strength, and ever present help in trouble. Notice as well, that just God is mentioned. That's a remarkable confession in an age (at a time) when we like to lean on God--plus something or someone else. "I like to cover all my bases, so I trust in God and the military. I trust in God and my own power. I trust in God whatever other deity may be up there running things!
No. That's not what the Psalmist says. He says God. Just God. He is our refuge and our strength. In other words, don't put your trust, your confidence, your hope in man or in man's power. Only God can give us true refuge, true strength, and true deliverance.
Notice too, this is a believer's confession--as we said a while ago--this is a song of the church. So only those who are in the church, only those who within the confines of Zion, only those who live and walk, and abide in and with Jesus Christ can sing this song, and enjoy the comfort and relief it brings.
All the more reason for us at times like this to share this Good News. To share this Gospel. I was overjoyed when I heard that the two main items being distributed by the Red Cross in the hours following the tragedy were blood and Bibles! Times of national adversity, times of national/personal tragedy, times of war, tend to make people very open to the instruction and message of God's Word. So many wonder Why? Why did God allow this to happen?
We don't know the answer to that. But we do know that God uses circumstances just like this to call people to Himself. To call people into Zion--His church. Perhaps there are people on the bottom of that rubble who are contemplating their God and Savior right now. Let's hope and pray that is the case. For they, perhaps more than anyone else right now, need the strength and the refuge that only God can give.
People of God, this Psalm teaches us that faith moves us to fearlessness! It's not that we aren't afraid of what happened yesterday. It's not that we aren't shaken and upset. It's not that we wouldn't be fearful if we ourselves we're involved in all that. It's just that we are not shaken to the point of despair. We have not lost all hope! We don't have to panic and become paranoid. We don't have to be anxious and overwhelmed to the point where we will never fly again or go into a big city!
We don't have to fear, because nothing can deprive us of the most important life of all. That's eternal life in Christ Jesus. As Luther wrote, the body they may kill, God's truth abideth still! Yes, the earth may give way under our feet. High rise building may collapse under us and around us. The very mountains may fall into the midst of the sea, the foaming waters may surge against us and drown us…but even then, we will not fear. For even in the face of death, our soul's are safe. Our eternity is secure. We will not be shaken!
2) The Ever-present Source of Her Security
How can we be so sure? How can the church afford such simple certainty? From where does our help, our security, and our confidence come? Just as we confessed earlier, our help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!
And it is our Lord who is the ever-present source of Our (her) security. Because the Lord is with Zion, because our Lord dwells with us, there is a peace, there is a solace within. We find that peace w/in the movement of the Psalm. We move from the violence and the turbulence of the raging and foaming waters of verse 3, to the peaceful tranquility of a quiet stream in vs. 4. There is a beautiful serenity in the air, as the Psalmist sings, there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Holy Place where the Most High dwells.
Now, many ancient cities had rivers running through them. But the oddity of this Psalm is that Jerusalem did not. Jerusalem had no river. What the Psalmist is saying here is the fact that the Lord is her soul refreshing stream. The Lord is her river of life, her fount of blessing! The Lord who is the river, that dwells within the heart of the city.
The Lord dwelled within his temple, the Most Holy place. And, because Israel's God lives in the city, because He lives among and amidst His own people, therefore they have nothing to fear! God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at break of day! God will lead His people amidst the tumult of the nations of the earth, amidst the kingdoms that rise and wane, amidst all the wars and attacks and national disasters.
What does that mean to us today? It's true, the Lord no longer dwells in an earthly temple made by human hands. He no longer makes His dwelling in modern day Jerusalem, Mt. Zion. But the Lord has not abandoned His church/ not abandoned Zion.
Indeed the Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. Our Lord Jesus, after He gave His life to pay for our sins, after He rose again from the grave, and shortly after He ascended into heaven, our Lord poured out His Spirit on His church. So that now, the Lord dwells within us in an even closer communion--now, He abides with us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord is Immanuel, God with us!
I want to show you how wonderfully and beautifully these verses will be fulfilled, as prophesied in Rev. 21: 1-4 & 22: 1-5 (read them)! So, it is our Lord Jesus Christ who stands as the Ever Present Source of our Security. Christ is the invincible One, He is the unshakable King who reigns from His throne in heaven over all men and rulers, over all powers and principalities.
Because He is king, we know He is Sovereign! So that even what those terrorists did yesterday, was under the sovereign control of Christ our King. That may be hard to accept or understand. Some would say that Christ had nothing to do with it. That what happened was sheer evil, and had nothing to do with Christ. But realize this, Christ is not the author of sin, nor is He the dispenser of evil. And, the Bible tells us that our Lord does not take pleasure or delight in the death of the righteous or the wicked.
But He does, however, by the right of His almighty power, rule all things, and allow all things to happen for whatever reason may be (vs. 8). Perhaps Christ allowed this to happen to judge our nation--to bring our nation to its knees in prayer. And, if that's the case beloved, then we must say AMEN to God's reasons!
There may be any number of reasons. But the most important reason is always His church. Christ does nothing in this world without regard for, without blessing for His church! As it says in Romans 8 we know that in all things (good or bad) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose!
You may have heard that verse quoted countless times during periods of duress. Maybe by now that verse sounds trite to you. Maybe you think, it's just the 'Company line' we come to expect from ministers at a time like this. "We say that, but are we really so gullible as to believe that"?
Well, I hope you believe it, no matter how many times you've heard it. Because it's true. It's true to life. It's true to the Christian experience. Otherwise we wouldn't be singing about that truth here in this Psalm! God Himself is With us, the God of Jacob is for us! He's for all those who believe in Him, who have the Lord dwelling within them!
3) The World-wide Extension of Her Security
Well, as we look to the final verses of this Psalm, we notice that the Lord isn't only powerful in Zion, He's also powerful in the world. Here we see The World-wide Extension of Her Security. Read vv. 9.
Here we get a little end-time perspective. For, it is the Lord who disarms the nations. It is the Lord who finally makes wars to cease, who breaks the bow, shatters the spear, smashes the tanks, who finally disarms and disables the terrorists.
Today, many nations live in upheaval. Shrieks of war and terror and dread are heard this night in many places, in many nations besides ours. But one day soon, the Prince of Peace is going to establish lasting peace. He is going to bring about a quiet stillness to the restless sea of nations.
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. Those words are spoken to the church, they are sung by the church…but they are directed to the world!
They are sung by the church today as a word of warning, as a word of hope, as a word of life to the nations/world. So that the nations might Be Still right at this moment, and acknowledge the Lord as King. That the rulers and people all over the world, might of their own accord lay down their weapons of destruction, and repent of their hatred and lawless ways (our country included) and turn to the Lord for refuge and strength!
For, one day the Lord is going to return. That is when He will quiet the nations once for all. One that day, a great silent Hush will fall upon them--The Lord is in His temple, let all within keep quiet! "Be still and know that I am God.
On that day, the Lord of Lords, the Lord of the Church, the Lord of Zion, the Lord of heaven and earth will exalt Himself, He will glorify Himself among the nations, and in the earth! On that Day the Lord will usher in His eternal Kingdom. And His reign shall extend over land and sea, earth's remotest regions shall His Empire be! Ever and forever shall His Name, and His kingdom endure!
That is our song, Beloved. That is our security, that is the church's confidence, that is our boast. Yet we make this boast, even in times of sorrow. And, we make this boast, but not with careless indifference to the tragedies around us. We don't sing this song while thumbing our noses at the world. We don't sing this song while thinking to ourselves, all those wicked people are getting what they deserve.
No, we sing this song in praise to God, but we also sing it within ear-shot of the world. Because this is Good News for everyone! This is Good News for those who are suffering and mourning. For those who are waiting for word about loved ones. For those who are searching and digging through the piles of rubble.
The Church sings of the Security of Zion. Our security is God. And God wants this song sung so that other may hear it as well. So that others may share in this refuge. So that others may know His strength and find eternal shelter and peace.
So let's sing, beloved! Let's sing about our God. Let's exalt His Name in all the earth! Let's let the world hear us. Not just tonight. But tomorrow and the next day after that. For we never know when tragedy will strike. We never know who will be next. But we must be prepared. We must know God. And we must have believing FAITH in His Son, Jesus Christ. For only by true faith can we be truly fearless! AMEN!!!(Special thanks to N. D. Kloosterman and his book Walking About Zion, Singing of Christ’s Church in the Psalms.)
Rev. Keith Davis
The Text of Psalm 46
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.