“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”. Psalm 46:1 NIV
This psalm is not written by David. It has allusion to the city of refuge. In the Old Testament, a city of refuge is a place of asylum. Anyone who commits murder unintentionally can go inside such cities and not be subject to blood revenge – often in the disguise of justice. (cf. Numbers 35:9-28)
Since the Ten (10) commandments are strictly enforced during this time, murder is punishable by death. Hence, this is to protect those who are innocent (i.e. killed a person out of self-defense, or, in the case of a jealous husband who unintentionally killed his wife’s lover) from the avenger of blood. The man who unintentionally committed murder can stay inside the city of refuge; he cannot be touched. But he is not free to leave unless the high priest in that city dies. If he leaves the city of refuge before the high priest dies, the avenger can kill him without any consequences.
In the New Testament, a condemned sinner can go to Christ (much like going to the city of refuge). In Christ, the sinner receives not only pardon but also freedom. Although “the wages of sin is death”, the sinner cannot be punished with death as Jesus Christ has already died on behalf of the sinner. At the cross, where God’s mercy and love overflowed, Jesus paid the “wages of sin” in full. The avenger has no claim on the sinner.
Psalm 46:1 is essentially what God is to a Christian: a refuge, a strong tower. The avenger cannot touch us as long as we are “inside”. Anyone who is in Christ has a hedge of protection surrounding them. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.
God is also our strength. Even in our weakest moment – when we are emaciated of all our spiritual vigor, and we are merely like shadows hovering between life and death – God gives us the strength that we need. Through Him, we can overcome temptations, keep our faith, grow our faith, and live a life to the fullest.
Finally, God is an ever-present help in trouble. We live in troubled times. Trouble is brewing everywhere. That is certain. Jesus Himself said, “in this world, you will have trouble”. But we need to be men/women of courage because He Himself said that “He has overcome the world”. (paraphrase, John 16:33).
No matter what happens, God will provide us all the help that we need to carry us through.