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He crushes guns and diffuses bombs; he destroys weapons of destruction (Psalm 46 speaks into the mass school shooting)

December 14, 2012


Psalm 46, a Psalm for tragedies and disasters, reads:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The third part of this Psalm begins, “Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.” God is stronger than war—he can demolish even the strongest weapons of warfare. So in some kind of cosmic sense we don’t have to be afraid when there is violence.

“He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.” We might read this today as, “He crushes guns and diffuses bombs, he destroys human weapons of destruction.”

And then there is the main point of the Psalm, verse 10, followed by the refrain in verse 11 that appeared earlier in the Psalm: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Nature can appear to be in chaos, human actions can leave us scratching our heads, but neither the chaos of nature nor the chaos of human sinfulness can ultimately stand up to the power of God. He is exalted over the earth and over all people. He is a warrior God who declares war on war and causes all violence to end.

“The LORD Almighty,” a title for God from verse 11 and earlier in verse 7, is also sometimes translated “LORD of hosts,” or God of the angel armies. Based on these verses Martin Luther wrote, “LORD Sabaoth his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle.”

This Almighty warrior God is with us, present in chaos and suffering. He is the God of heavenly hosts of armies, yet he is the God of Jacob, too, a title that speaks of God’s personal relationship with his people.

He is a personal God that people can know. He invites us into an intimate relationship with him, especially when we are hurting, especially when things are going wrong.

The above is adapted from part of a sermon I preached a couple of summers ago on Psalm 46. I post in now in light of today’s awful news.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2012 3:31 pm

    Thank you for posting this. It’s been a rough weekend, and trying to come up with how we celebrate Advent III (which is “rejoice”) in the midst of the tragedy in Connecticut has been tough. Reading posts like this has helped.

    • December 16, 2012 4:34 pm

      It wasn’t until today that I put it all together about it being the Advent Sunday for joy… glad this was of help to you.


  1. More on the Connecticut school shooting: the haughtiness of humanity will collapse, says Isaiah | Words on the Word

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