The LORD Our God is With Us

The LORD Our God is With Us

Many of you know that the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” written by Martin Luther, is based on Psalm 46. I sang Psalm 46 with several members of our extended family and the family of another OPC minister this past Saturday evening. What a comfort that Psalm was to my soul as the Lord reminded me by His Spirit that God does not and cannot change. He is the unfailing refuge and the sovereign, saving strength of His people.

Psalm 46 pictures God as our place of refuge in times of trouble, as our safe haven in the midst of the storm. Notice the phrase “a very present help in trouble” (v. 1). In a time when a new term, “social distancing,” has been introduced into our vocabulary, one thing we can be absolutely certain of is that our God has not distanced Himself from us. He is “a very present help in trouble.” This brings to mind the words of God to His people in the wilderness, when they had no permanent place of worship, but only a tent that moved from place to place. God said to His people in that place of longing for a permanent home, “What great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever we may call upon Him?…Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deut. 4:7, 10). The nearness of God is revealed to us in His willingness both to speak to us and to hear us when we call upon His great and gracious name. “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps. 145:18).

Trouble and distress have a way of revealing what is in our hearts. Mae and I talked about this even this morning. As the depth of our national (and international!) distress begins to sink in, it becomes increasingly difficult to insulate our children from the anxieties in the hearts and minds of their parents. It becomes more and more evident where our trust has been and to what our hearts have been clinging. But notice what God says to us, His cherished and beloved people, in v. 2. “Therefore we will not fear…” Even if the worst fears we might have were to be realized–even if “the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea”–even then we need not let our hearts be troubled. Why? Because our God is with us, a very present help in time of trouble.

God is with us by His Spirit and His Word. He is with us in the risen, reigning, and soon returning Lord Jesus Christ. He is with us to remind us, as we read in vv. 4-5, “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God…God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” We can be sure that the nations will rage against the judgments of a holy God (v. 6). Some of you may even feel that raging as a nation that does not know God begins to turn in mindless fear upon those who do. Just this morning I felt this raging in the form of a hateful response to my posting of Ps. 90:1-2 on the social media site, Nextdoor.com. But why do the nations rage? Why are the peoples in fear? Because they do not know God or His grace revealed to us in the Person of His Son. We have the promise that “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge” (v. 11).

Are you trusting that the Lord is with you and will never leave you or forsake you? Hear what God says to us in our trouble, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth” (v. 10).

God is our refuge and our strength. He is our very present help in this time of distress. He is very near to us, and that nearness becomes ours by experience when we call upon the Lord through the name of our great Savior Jesus Christ.

Call upon the name of the Lord in your distress. Call upon His name with your spouse and your children in family worship. Call upon His name with friends, neighbors, and relatives as you have opportunity. Call upon His name for our nation, seeking His mercy for a nation under the just judgment of a holy God. Ask the Lord for His nearness to His people. Ask the Lord for courage and boldness to be faithful–even in our distress–to His Word. Ask for repentance and revival and reformation in the churches. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob–the covenant God–is our refuge.

May the Lord give us grace to remember and to respond to His nearness in faith.

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