Redefining Scripture: Psalm 46

This is my 4th in a series of posts recapping our construction mission trip to Haiti. Click here to read them all. You can also subscribe to receive the updates by email by entering your email address at the top of the left column (under “email subscription”) and hitting submit.

On Sunday morning, we had the opportunity to attend worship at the church that we were there serving. Philadelphia Baptist Church, led by Pastor Joseph. I was so excited as I told you how I love attending church services in other cultures/languages. Well, it did not disappoint and I had one particular passage of Scripture forever changed for me.

This is the church, destroyed by the earthquake. What should probably be their sanctuary is there in the foreground. They put up blue tarps in the back half, that you can see in the background. This is where the services are right now. And the Pastor's family's home is back behind that. Their home is still standing but they are afraid to sleep in it at night, so they sleep under the blue tarps.

When we walked in, they escorted us to sit in the very front row, as we were their special guests. It was incredibly hot. It took only a matter of minutes before the sweat just started dripping down all of us. After a short bit, they did rummage up a standing electric fan, that with the help of an extension cord, put right in front of us, oscillating over our whole row. We felt a little self-conscious that they were making special accommodations for us, but we were also very grateful to have the fan.

The service was great. It was all in Creole, but I could pick out some words here and there, due to some of the similarities to Spanish. The ladies’ choir and men’s choirs both sang. They were great! We obviously couldn’t understand the words they were singing, but it didn’t matter. Music transcends language – especially worship music. I love that we are all able to worship the same God regardless of language, culture, or building.

The people in church

This is from the front row of the church service, looking forward.

We would also figure out which Scripture passage they were reading so that we could at least follow along in our own Bibles. In a roundabout way we learned that since the earthquake the entire church has been memorizing Psalm 46. I don’t think this Psalm will ever be the same for me again. It has been completely redefined.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

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

8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

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

There is no question that the Haitian earthquake was severe. Over 230,000 people died and over 1.5 million people are now homeless. The 7.0 earthquake caused the ground to shake violently for upwards of a full minute. I can’t imagine something so terrifying lasting for so long. Just seven minutes later there was a 6.0 aftershock. There were aftershocks that then lasted for days, where the earth would tremble sporadically. The 2nd largest aftershock (5.9) then occurred on January 20th (8 days later) centered right under Petite Goave.

This church is now memorizing Psalm 46 – that God is their refuge and strength…though the earth give way & the mountains fall into the sea. And in the midst of everything going on in this Psalm – earthquakes and wars and desolation – God is saying, “be still and know that I am God.” In some of the most frightening circumstances, this is a command. The Lord Almighty is with us.

Psalm 46:10 is one of our most used Scripture passages, particularly in household decorations. Even Cason & I have it on a sign hanging above the door to our bedroom. But I now think we often take it far too lightly, as just another inspiring fluffy verse. Something to remind ourselves of in the midst of a busy day when we haven’t had a chance to stop & breathe. I don’t think I have ever fully looked at this verse in context before, to see in what circumstances the Lord is really talking about. God is talking about in the midst of the most dire, terrifying conditions. He can overcome any circumstance. His power is much greater than just my negligible “busy days”. My stress on those “busy days” pales so much in comparison to what our Haitian brothers and sisters have gone through. To what other people all over this world are dealing with on a daily basis. But we serve an amazing, mighty God. He truly is our refuge and strength. In all things.

This passage is forever changed for me and I am so thankful.

Be still and know that I am God.

This is our group with the Pastor & his wife, standing in what should be their sanctuary.

Have you ever had a passage of Scripture redefined for you? Please share in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Redefining Scripture: Psalm 46

  1. It is a blessing to see God’s amazing grace upon on this people in Haiti . We can tell those were people that they soul waits for the Lord, and they are a confirmation of God’s promises. The Angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.
    Every face that you saw and served those are God’s children that God delivered they soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine for His purpose of giving then opportunity to continue they journey to worship Him and became a testimony for they around and surrounds and all of those whom served then, all of us who hear about then .

  2. Years ago I was asked to read Matthew 10: 26-30 at the memorial service for a colleague. I read it over and shared it and my confusion with a half dozen Christians. Everyone single person said they were baffled as to why it was chosen. But as I read it at the service, it was crystal clear. Moreover, each one of my friends plus the man that scheduled me to read asked me privately, “when did you decide to change the scripture reading – that was so relevant?” I asked each person if it was the homily that made it clear. “No, when you read the scripture, it spoke to me.”

    I was thinking the passage was all about birth and living with less worry. At the service, it became clear that we are not to fear for the body of our loved one. We are to be at peace that from before we are born God knows us and has a plan for us to spend eternity with him. To me, the reading was a personal revelation but I soon found out that God was at work in the lives of at least 6 others at that service.

  3. Pingback: Thinking back to our time in Haiti | Karen Barnes

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