I’ve been going around my home and office changing the yearly calendar. We must also remember when dating a piece of work, to change the year from 2008 to 2009. Along with the date and times, sadly our circumstances and associations also change, often for the worse! Indian Christianity is threatened by Hindu fundamentalism and the Mumbai bombings have caused great turmoil in our nation. One wonders if the US-world economy is going to improve or if Israeli-Palestine peace talks are leading anywhere! Such local, nation and international instability can create insecurity, adding to past crises and deepening our anxiety in how to cope with the challenges of this New Year. While things around us change, the key is to learn to trust in a God who does not change (Mal. 3:6).
David, the Old Testament hymnist, wrote Psalm 48. Here, he exhorts Israel as God’s people to sing praise unto the Lord for who he is (worth), and what he did for them (works). The good news is that this same God, because of what his son Jesus did on the Cross, can also be our God! My experience in crisis counseling shows me that people crave real relationships, security, and guidance. A careful study of this psalm will reveal how this great God can be our Guard and Guide this New Year, forever, even to death (v.14).
This Great God is our God:
The psalm speaks of a God who does not merely exist, but has made himself known to us. The proof of God’s presence for the believer is all over. It’s found in creation, the human conscience, divine commands (the Law), and most of all in Christ, the full and final revelation of God in the flesh to all. In Christ, this holy God who knew no sin became sin for us; therefore he is all the more worthy of our praise (v.1). Because of the indwelling and empowering presence of Christ’s Spirit, believers can realize God’s grace and power in time of need and personally know God as their Refuge and Strength (v.3; 46:1).
This Great God is our Guard:
Jerusalem, “the city of God,” was known for its natural, mountainous, and man-made fortifications (Psa. 125:2). Yet there were injustices within Israel’s walls and she was in constant danger from threats by her surrounding enemies. What the people needed was a God who would guard and establish their well-being (v.3, 8). Yahweh was a righteous God known for his acts of loving kindness (v.9, 10). Yet, God’s love incarnate, “full of grace and truth” is found in Christ’s person and work. Like the city, God’s children today need his daily protection. Jesus promised his disciples he would send his Spirit as their Comforter–his along-side presence to strengthen and encourage them. Christ’s Spirit with us keeps us internally(gives peace, Phil. 4:6,7), externally (from falling; Jude 24), and indeed eternally (until we see Christ, 2 Tim. 1:12).
This Great God is our Guide:
Further, Israel as a nation needed to be carefully led not just through their wanderings in the wilderness but from generation to generation. God himself was their Guide (v.13, 14). His Shekinah presence, as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, directed their lives even as they learned to trust his word and acknowledge him in all their ways. How true it is that our busy lives can become a wilderness wandering when they have no direction and purpose. Interestingly, Christian are considered as “aliens and strangers” in this present evil world (1 Pet. 2:11). Nevertheless, Christ has promised never to leave nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). As I often put it to young people, “Though people do, Christ will never lets us down and will never let us go! God is our Life’s Guide; he knows, shows, and goes all the way with us” (Jer. 29:11, Psa. 32:8, Josh. 1:3-7). Believers can sing: “All the way my Savior leads me what have I to ask beside?”
Many are familiar with the gripping story of Jim Elliot, the missionary aviation pilot to the Auca Indians in Ecuador who was martyred. Do you know what he last wrote in his dairy? It was Psalm 48: 14: “For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.” What blessed assurance! I’m often reminded of the old chorus: “Yesterday, today forever Jesus is the same; All may change but Jesus, never! Glory to His name!” Do you have this great God and incomparable Christ as your God, Guard, and Guide for the coming year? Maybe you would like to make Psalm 48:14 your key verse for 2008?