Psalm 461NIV New International Version Translations
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
The name Psalms or Psalter come from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, where they originally referred to stringed instruments such as the harp, lyre and lute. The author is King David, one of the most important figures in Jewish history. Born in 907 B.C., he reigns as king of Israel for 40 years, dying at age 70 in 837 B.C.
Psalm 46 is a song about Fear! At its simplest (and most necessary), fear is an internal warning cry that danger is nearby and we’d better do something to avoid it! At its worst fear is a chronic and debilitating emotion that’s much bigger than the object of fear like arachnophobia, fear of spiders. The background to Psalm 46 is fear on a grand scale. But the people who sing this song, amazingly, testify to not being afraid.
The reasons for not being afraid are:
- God’s presence … (v1-3)
- He’s a ‘refuge’, an external shelter, in which these people hide. He’s a ‘strength’, an internal power, who gives otherwise weak people the courage for action. God’s not aloof or distant but “very present.”
- God’s place … (v4-7)
- God’s place is called a city. And one of the most important things about God’s city is that it’s where God lives, v4b-5a! One of the other really significant things is the contrasts. Outside the city there are life threatening seas (v3) but inside the city is a life giving stream (v4). Outside the city the mountains tremble (v3) but the city itself can not be moved (v5a). Outside the city the nations rage (war, v6) but the city is peaceful.
- God’s rule … (v8-11)
- The ultimate outcome of God’s rule is stillness and peace. The process towards peace however, is actually judgment. Verse 8 says that God brings ‘desolation’ on the earth, and verse 9 says that God will forcibly disarm his enemies.
Items for Discussion
- Discuss how the fears of each generation are changing?
- Is your greatest fear different than that of your parents and/or your children?
- Contrast life in a city versus life in the country. In this psalm, life in the city is safer. How that this reversed itself in modern times? How would you find relevance in this Scripture today?
- What is unique about God’s process of peace?
- Do you find God’s commitment to peace comforting knowing that it includes God’s judgment?
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
This letter is addressed to a congregation at Colossae in the Lycus Valley in Asia Minor, east of Ephesus. At the time of its writing (50-80 A.D.), Paul had not yet visited there, the letter says. Problems had arisen, brought on by teachers who emphasized Christ’s relation to the universe (cosmos). Their teachings stressed angels; “principalities and powers,” which were connected with astral powers and cultic practices. These teachings, Paul insists, detract from the person and work of Christ for salvation — such teachings are but “shadows”; Christ is “reality.”
“Bearing with” — God wants us to bear with others with the attitudes of verse 12. The words “bearing with” signify to hold up against a thing and so to bear with (Matt. 17:7; 1 Cor. 4:12; 2 Cor. 11:1, 4, 19, 20; Heb. 13:22, etc.). “Bearing with” means to be patient with, in the sense of enduring possible difficulty (Eph 4.2). God wants us to have enough character in an adverse situation to hold ourselves back from the temptation to let loose and fly at them. This is noble self-restraint. “Bear with” means to put up with someone. God expects us to lovingly put up with one another.
“one another” — We need to learn to live with one another. “One another” means one another of the same kind. This refers to fellow Christians. We need to learn to live with fellow Christians.
“and forgiving” — Forgiveness means to bestow favor unconditionally (divine forgiveness–Eph. 4:32; Col 2:13; 3:13; human forgiveness–Lk. 7:42,43 (debt); II Cor 2:7,10;12:13; Eph. 4:32). “Forgive” means to give graciously, unconditionally, without strings.
“if anyone has a complaint against another” — A complaint is a grievance against someone else. An occasion of complaint implies blame. The complaint may be justified.
“even as Christ forgave you” — To forgive as Christ forgave does not mean that the Christian is to become a doormat. It does mean that when we have a complaint against someone, we approach the problem with a certain bearing — an attitude of forgiveness.
“so you also must do” — God wants us to follow the pattern of forgiveness Christ set.
Items for Discussion
- What is necessary for people to live with one another harmoniously?
- How is it possible to overcome extreme hatred toward someone?
- What produces tolerance between people with differing opinions?
- How can people with opposing views like liberalism and conservatism learn to respect and love each other?
- Is Paul too optimistic in his assessment of the capabilities of the human race?
- How does Christ come into this picture?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations