Tuned for Praise: Refuge

Read: Psalm 46

Be still, and know that I am God! (Psalm 46:10a, NRSV).

“It will be all right.”

That’s what we tell our kids. It’s what our parents told us, so we assume it must be true. Except that maybe it isn’t. Between the literal storms of climate change and the metaphorical storms of politics, that time-tested reassurance is starting to feel more and more like a lie.

On a good day, I take refuge in Romans 14:8 and am reminded that “whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” So, in that sense, it really will be “all right.” But on a bad day, I find a different sort of refuge in Psalm 46.

Part of this psalm’s appeal is its “misery loves company” quotient. The psalmist’s world is going to hell in ways that sound eerily familiar. Chaos is encroaching in both the natural and the political spheres.

This is harder to track when we’re reading the psalm in English. In Hebrew, the sea is roaring and the mountains are slipping. Then politics takes a turn, and the nations start roaring and the kingdoms start slipping. See what I mean about misery loving company? If we didn’t know better, we’d think this psalmist had a subscription to The New York Times.

In the center of these storms, however, is a still point. “There is a river,” the psalmist says, “whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.” Unlike the roaring seas outside, this river is life-giving. God’s presence inside the city means that it will NOT slip. Peace is possible precisely because God is with us, and God is our refuge.

Martin Luther was no stranger to chaos, so it’s not surprising that he chose this psalm as the inspiration for his hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” As you listen to it, however, remember the stillness at the center of the psalm. It is only possible because God is equal to keeping all kinds of chaos at bay.

The last section of the psalm underscores this. Look around, it says. This is the God who can calm the storm. This is the God who is with us. This is the God who is our refuge. Your fear is real, but remember whose love and strength surrounds you.

So, “be still and know that I am God.” Not in the sense of “doing nothing,” but in the sense of being at peace in the midst of whatever comes.

Be still. Be still. It really will be all right.


Listen:  J.S. Bach “Ein Feste Burg ist unser Gott”


Be Still and Know (John L. Bell)


Pray: Visit us with thy salvation; enter every trembling heart. Help us to be still and trust that your love and strength surround us.


Introduction to the Tuned for Praise Series

Leonard Bernstein once observed that “music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”

In this series, we will take advantage of music’s power to pick up where words leave off. Each Bible passage will be paired with a link to a recording that—in my judgement at least—interprets Scripture’s words in ways that words cannot.