I STILL REMEMBER STEVE’S CRY IN THE DELIVERY ROOM:
“GOD GAVE US A GIRL — AND SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE ME!”
INDEED, WE SENSED GOD’S KINDNESS TO US.
I HAD ASKED GOD (UNLESS HE HAD A BETTER IDEA) FOR A DAUGHTER,
WHO WOULD BE LIKE HER DAD.
GOD KNEW, EVEN THEN, THAT HE WOULD CALL STEVE HOME EARLY,
BUT HE WOULD LEAVE, IN KINDNESS, THE ONE SO LIKE HIM.
WHEN THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN NONE OF US HAD ANY IDEA OF THE STORM AHEAD.
BUT THEN STEVE WAS DIAGNOSED.
FOURTH STAGE CANCER.
THERE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN A MORE FRIGHTENING DIAGNOSIS.
GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH
A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE,
THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR THOUGH THE EARTH GIVES WAY,
THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS BE MOVED
INTO THE HEART OF THE SEA,
THOUGH THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE AT THE SWELLING.
MARTIN LUTHER’S “A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD” WAS INSPIRED BY THIS GREAT PSALM.
WHEN HIS FRIEND, PHILIP MELANCHTHON, WOULD BE OVERCOME WITH FEAR
THAT THE CHURCH MIGHT BE OVERCOME, OR THAT THEY MIGHT BE MARTYRED,
LUTHER WOULD SAY, “COME PHILIP, LET’S SING THE 46TH.”
WHEN WE WERE OVERCOME WITH FEAR AFTER STEVE’S DIAGNOSIS,
STEVE ASKED SALLY TO SING “THE 46TH.”
I RECORDED WHAT HAPPENED IN MY PRAYER JOURNAL,
AND IN THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT.
Sunday, August 17
Two weeks after Steve’s diagnosis
Sally sang “A Mighty Fortress” in church this morning. Annie and Beth on one side of Steve, pressed into him, me on the other. John in the pew behind with his hand on Steve’s shoulder. Sally sang it as a fighting song — I’d never heard it sung that way — I don’t think I’d ever really understood it before. I’ve heard it sung majestically, but never with righteous anger. Yet, it seemed so right. It is a call to battle against Satan and all the spiritual workers of darkness. Sally kept shaking her fist at Satan, at the “prince of darkness grim,” at the one armed with “cruel hate,” and the one who must “not this battle win.” Each verse grew stronger, and our hearts found courage for the fight ahead. But when Sally got to the phrase, “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also,” she looked at Steve and faltered. It was too much for her and stopped, paralyzed with grief. Suddenly, and I will never in all my life forget this — Judy (the pianist) began to sing, then the congregation rose — standing in the gap for us, finishing Sally’s song for her. They are with us.
WE ARE NOT ALONE
GOD IS WITH US, A VERY PRESENT HELP IN TIMES OF TROUBLE. He is with us through His Spirit, and He is with us through His Word, and He is with us through His Body. Indeed — do we not have this here on this Bible study blog? I ask at the top of the website — “Is it really possible to experience God in a place like this?” And yes, we are finding it is. His Spirit flows through us, a mighty river whose streams make glad the people of the Lord.
There is a river whose streams make
glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High,
God is in the midst of her; she shall not
These Psalms of the Sons of Korah (42-49) have inspired such great hymns, but this one, Psalm 46, has inspired ones the Church around the world has come to love. We will sing them this week throughout our study. Psalm 46 has also inspired great sermons, and it was so hard to choose, but I finally chose an excellent exposition from an Australian Presbyterian pastor.
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Please share your answers to the Icebreaker, and then be concise with your answers to the Bible study questions. You may want to do the whole study on a separate document and come back and share your best. Or, you may want to share everything, but you will be less likely to be read. I leave it to you. You don’t need to read everyone’s comments — but as you feel led. Welcome!
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Monday-Wednesday Bible Study:
Sing or listen to this with “your heart and your mind” as we are exhorted, and pray as you do — in praise, in petition, and in trust. These are anointed words and I am going to ask for your reflections afterwards.
2. What reflections do you have on the above hymn and how does it minister to you right now?
CREATION IN TUMULT
3. Read Psalm 46:1-3 and linger over the images. How is creation in tumult and why should we not be afraid?
Prepare your heart for Psalm 46:4 with this song, again, singing or listening with your mind and heart.
4. What reflections do you have on the above hymn?
5. Read Psalm 46:4-5. In the sermon, David Jackman will tell you that Jerusalem does not have a river that runs through it. So what could this mean?
POLITICAL KINGDOMS IN TUMULT
6. Read Psalm 46:6-9
A. What images are in this passage?
B. Verses 3 and 6 are a chiasm. In the ESV, for example, you could draw a circle around “roar” in verse 3, and around “rage” in verse 6 and draw a line. Then, draw a circle around “tremble” in verse 3, and around “totter” in verse 6 and draw a line. What point do you think God is making with these similarities?
C. David Jackman points out that verse 8 calls us to look at the desolations of the earth through the tumult of both creation and its peoples and “behold the works of the Lord.” This is surprising. Contemplate and share your thoughts.
7. Watch the first four minutes and 17 seconds of Video 6 in The Idol Lies series by going to this page — then share your thoughts. http://deebrestin.com/idol-lies/
8. Read the rest of Psalm 46 and find an image of hope in the midst of the tumult. What is it and why does it speak to you?
9. Think about the Exodus and how it showed God’s power over creation and over political kingdoms.
10. Watch this and then comment:
Listen to David Jackman of Australia on Psalm 46 and share your comments.
11. What is your take-a-way and why?