The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 44

The Linnet´s Wings Psalm 46 Psalm 46 is a joyous battle hymn. It celebrates a warrior God who insures His people’s victory against their enemies. In its famous words: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption – none will inspire fear to a people God protects. The City of God rests safe amidst the river’s turbulent destruction; settled in bedrock; “she shall not be moved.” 1: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2: Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3: Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4: There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5: God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6: The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7: The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8: Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9: He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10: Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11: The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. (King James Version) The hymn is martial and aggressive. Although “the heathen raged, [and] the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.” The promise assures that war ends in peace: “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” The Psalm concludes in God’s own voice, assuring His people that the Covenant with Jacob remains firm and unchanging: “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” God promises that he will subdue the heathen nations and make them worship the one true God, bringing universal peace. Psalm 46 reminds us that the psalms are musical performances, choral and instrumental works, obviously of different musical treatment, depending on their themes. As quiet, and inward, and steeped in odd tonalities as Psalm 39 would be, Psalm 46 is public and rousing, with thunderous instrumental support in a major key, as is our own “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The “Battle Hymn” in its brilliant imagery depicts God fighting alongside His human agents: “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of Wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible Swift sword;…” (Julia Ward Howe, 1861). While mute on means, Psalm 46 asserts that the long arc of history belongs to God, that methods are beside the point. God will pro- vide the five smooth stones, He will bring David to the battle field, and David will slay Goliath. Psalm 46 sings out its rousing confidence that the enemies of God’s people will be overcome, and the City of God will prevail and flourish. Psalm 55 Psalm 55, in contrast, is the troubled lament of an embattled and subjected Israel. The enemies are within the gates, and bitter factionalism has set the power-seekers against the pious. The speaker invokes God’s help against his antagonists who torment him and the others who oppose the new regime. He suffers “fear and trembling” and wishes for the “wings of the dove” to escape his suffering. The wicked patrol the ramparts and create terror and deceit everywhere. The psalm depicts a “1984” totalitarian culture, where guile and threat 44