Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Confidence Leads to Thanksgiving.

“What is this confidence that you have?” These are the words of an invader. The Assyrian army has seized all the fortified cities of Judah and is now on the doorstep of Jerusalem. The Assyrian king sent three generals to speak with Hezekiah, not face to face, but to shout public humiliations over the wall. Listen to them strip every ounce of hope in the hearing of the people, “You say (but they are only empty words), ‘I have counsel and strength for the war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me? . . . Have I come up without the Lord’s approval against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” (see 2 Kings 18-9-19:37)

I am firmly convinced that when J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Battle of Helm’s Deep in “The Two Towers” he had the Assyrian invasion in mind. Peter Jackson did a fairly good job capturing the scene for us:

Yes, I think that is fairly accurate (even of the Assyrians).

Psalm 46 was composed during this very time, when then enemy was camped on the doorstep. The sense of the Hebrew in the first verse reads, “God is our refuge and strength, abundantly available for help in tight places.” I don’t like being in tight spots. They stress me out. I don’t do stress well.
The structure of Psalm 46 is beautiful: God is our refuge. He is at the top of the list as the bottom-most foundation. While everything around is falling apart, God remains unshakable, immovable. Hezekiah takes the letters of the invaders and spreads both them and himself out before God where he prays to God, His confidence. That very night, the Assyrian generals met Hezekiah’s confidence when 185,000 Assyrians met the angel of the Lord. Sennacherib, king of Assyrian, retreated.

The psalmist (and Hezekiah) placed their confidence in God because He does not move. The earth moves. Water is patient in its work, and the mountains fall down, but the water only bubbles and retreats in laughter when it is done. Men trip over stones that were once mountains and every mountain of a man falls.

God as refuge is the dwelling place for all who need protection and strength. Think of it: a city is made up of people, so all the people who abide in God will not be moved, even as enemies rage through the night. God will help and night turns to day.

We can take our confidence in God, our refuge. Think for a moment about His mighty work on our behalf: He destroys His enemies, causing their warring to cease, rendering bow, spear and chariot useless. He tells His enemies, “STOP and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Oh, yes! Give thanks because our God is with us, we who dwell in Him who is our refuge. The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

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