Psalm 46: When I Am Afraid

Psalm 46: When I Am Afraid

Posted on July 15, 2019

Psalm 46

For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
    and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
    Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude
4 A river brings joy to the city of our God,
    the sacred home of the Most High.
5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
    From the very break of day, God will protect it.
6 The nations are in chaos,
    and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
    and the earth melts!
7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
    the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude
 
8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
    See how he brings destruction upon the world.
9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
    He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
 
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I will be honored by every nation.
    I will be honored throughout the world.”
 
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
    the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude

Reflection

When the check engine light comes on in the car, you know it’s time to have a mechanic take a look. It’s an indicator alerting you to the presence of conditions that may cause damage to the vehicle, delivering a strong suggestion from the manufacturer to high-tail it to the shop.

God designed us with a sophisticated indicator system, too. Humans operate best in God’s loving presence. We get too far from His loving presence and an indicator will start flashing. Sometimes, that indicator is fear. Fear is a strong suggestion from our manufacturer that we check in immediately.

The poetry in Psalm 46 describes God’s loving presence as a fortress with a river of joy flowing into it. Scary stuff is happening all around it, but it stands for protection and cannot be destroyed. Psalm 46 is a song about returning to that fortress to receive blessings of joy when times get tough and life becomes scary.

Ultimately, it’s our choice to seek the loving presence of God when the fear indicator goes off. He gave us the choice to do this all on our own from the very beginning. Sure, you can keep driving around after the check engine light comes on—but at a greater risk of sustaining damage to the vehicle. In my experience, doing life is much less stressful when I check in with my manufacturer for guidance or simply to draw strength and courage from His loving presence. 

Jesus often said, “do not be afraid.” This phrase and variations of it pop up all throughout Scripture. Could it be the biblical equivalent of the manufacturer resetting the check engine light? I don’t think Jesus is saying it’s wrong to have fear—he’s saying, “Good thing you’re here with me. I can offer you comfort, guidance, and strength. Now we can face this together.”

Action Steps

  • Fear is one indicator that it’s time to seek the loving presence of God. Make a list of other indicators, noting the ones that blink most often in your own life. How do you typically respond to them? How might you change your typical responses?

  • Read Matthew 26:36-46 and contemplate Jesus’ response to his own fear and anxiety.

Questions for Reflection

  • What role might evil play in fear?

  • How are fear and anxiety related? In what ways are they distinctly different from one another?

  • Consider the difference between fear aroused by a perceived threat versus a real danger. How might fear caused by a perceived threat help to prepare us to respond in the presence of real danger?

  • In what ways do we sometimes respond to fear other than seeking the loving presence of God?