COVID-19 and Psalm 46

Many of you are very familiar with Martin Luther who launched the Protestant Reformation by nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg church. He wrote one of the most famous hymns of all time and has Psalm 46 as its foundation.  

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing; For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe 
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate; On earth is not his equal. 

Martin Luther uses the imagery from Psalm 46 to paint this picture of God being a mighty fortress, a helper amid all the floods and evil things that this world will throw at us—a timely message during this COVID-19 crisis. 

Psalm 46 teaches this main point: We can rest confidently in the supreme power of our ever-present Lord. King David, the hymn writer, gives us three primary ways we can do this. First of all, in verses 1-3, we can rely on the strength of God during times of anxiety or turmoil. This COVID-19 pandemic has caused great fear, insecurity, anxiety, and depression among many in our community.  God is our refuge and strength and ever-present help in trouble.

The Psalmist uses this graphic imagery of mountains crashing into oceans and powerful hurricanes and earthquakes and natural disasters.  This is poetic language to describe what will happen when God comes in judgment on the earth on the Day of the Lord, but it is also metaphorical language for the turmoil that we experience in our everyday lives—especially all the issues surrounding the coronavirus.  

We live in a shaky and chaotic world. We live in a world of broken promises. We live in a world of fractured relationships. We live in a world of disappointment and pain and struggle and we see it all over the place. Often we feel like the world is this huge ocean that swarming over us and we are about to drown. This Psalm tells us not to fear. Don’t be anxious.  RELY on the strength of God.  He is a refuge.

Second, in verses 4-7, we can rejoice in the supremacy of God because He is on His throne! So why can we be glad and rejoice in times of trouble? He is the Most High, which means He is the supreme One. He is highly exalted as King above everything. In verse 7 He is called the LORD of hosts, which conveys the idea that God is surrounded by this huge military force of angels! He is a fortress.  

In other words, God is supremely reigning on His throne and that should bring us great joy to know that He is in control no matter what happens and that we can rejoice in the Lord as our strength. The nations may rage and kingdoms totter and there may be both economic and social repercussions from COVID-19, but we are not a people who lose hope. We can rejoice in the supremacy of God who rules and reigns on His throne.  

Third, in verses 8-11, we can remain in the security of God because He will exalt Himself above all earthly powers. This section speaks about the future judgment of God upon the nations where one day He will make everything right and there will be a new heaven and new earth. In light of God’s plan to judge the nations and bring about His rule and reign, we can now be still and know that He is God.   

It may seem like right now that the coronavirus pandemic has taken over our world and all seems hopeless. But behind it all, God is still on His throne and He gets the final word.  We can remain in His security. We can rest. We can be still. We can have the confidence that God is in charge. Lamentations 3:22–26 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” 

We can rest confidently in the supreme power of our ever-present Lord through the salvation of Jesus Christ—especially during unprecedented times such as these!