Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. (Psalms 46:10-11)
The Lord always has a purpose in the way He leads and it is always best to surrender to His divine purpose. If I had things my way, I would rather our congregational reading of the Psalms would fall at some different place than Psalm 46. This psalm is better suited for the message I will bring next week, but God has providentially decided this is what we should read this week.
There are allusions in this psalm to the tribulation in the end times when the nation of Israel will be rocked like never before. Verses 2 and 3 are compelling references to that horrible time. It is very difficult to imagine things could be worse for the Jewish people since Jesus pronounced an ominous forecast for them in Matthew 23:38. He said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” This was the sure prediction of the fall of the entire Jewish system when both the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Since that time, the Jews have been vagabonds, and in every century they have been hated above all people with many attempts made to exterminate them. If Hitler had been successful in winning in World War II, it may very well be the Jews would be nonexistent today. However, we know God still has His plan and no government nor any tyrant will destroy His chosen people from the earth.
Remarkably, the 46th Psalm was written at a time when another despot tried to destroy Israel. This was Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, who besieged Jerusalem with a great army and made plans to assault and destroy her if Israel did not surrender. King Hezekiah saw this massive force that was about to invade and he humbly went before God to implore Him for relief. The relief Hezekiah sought was quickly forthcoming without Israel shooting a single arrow in her defense. Instead, God dispatched one angel in the night who killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers as they slept. Within days, Sennacherib returned to Nineveh where he worshipped in the temple of his heathen god. As he did, his own sons came and murdered him. Psalm 46 was written in celebration of this silent victory. “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
In the last days during the time of tribulation, Israel will once again face extermination. The Antichrist will throw the combined forces of the world’s armies against her in an attempt to do what Satan has never before accomplished. By God’s marvelous providence, the God of Jacob will come to Israel’s aid. In Matthew 23:39, Jesus said He would not return for the Jews until they say, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” He has not returned because Israel is not ready to turn to Him. Israel does not acknowledge Christ as king. In the worst days of the tribulation when Satan sends a flood against them, they will do what Hezekiah did. They will turn to the Lord as their only help and they will cry out for Him to deliver them. The great Sovereign will hear their cry and He will step foot on the Mount of Olives, the same place from which He ascended, and He will call a host of angels to come destroy the armies of the Antichrist just as He did the armies of Sennacherib.
Psalm 46 has always been a great comfort to those facing impossible situations. Martin Luther penned his great hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God from this psalm. Soldiers have sung its words before going into battle. Persecuted Christians have relied on it when facing torturous deaths. Perhaps you can find comfort in it today. The worst you can imagine is no match for God. Be still and wait. Call on Him and then wait quietly while He does His work. He is with us—the God of Jacob is our refuge.
Pastor V. Mark Smith