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The River and the City


Magazines such as U.S. News & World Report, Kiplingers, and Money often publish articles about the best places to live or retire. These cities are chosen based on a combination of features that include scenery, the economy, and the range of amenities offered to residents. Safety is another important factor.

Safety was the primary concern of the city described in Psalm 46. Verse 4 identifies it as “the city of God,” where the Holy Place was located. This description enables us to identify the city as Jerusalem. The situation depicted in the psalm suggests that it was written at a time when Jerusalem was being threatened by its enemies, though we don’t have enough historical details to say for certain when this took place. Scholars think it could have been written during the time of Jehoshaphat or during the reign of Ahaz.

Even more important than the historical setting is the emphasis within the psalm on God’s protection and its description of the city. Both themes are echoed in Revelation 22, and it points forward to the time when the Messiah will reign.

The image of a river “whose streams make glad the city of God” speaks of divine provision (v. 4). Like the city depicted in this psalm, one of the benefits of our relationship with Jesus Christ is the experience of God’s presence. Those who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ “are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).

The turmoil of natural disasters, wars, and political uproar continues today (vv. 2, 6). The Lord’s counsel to those who are distressed by such upheavals is: “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10).

Apply the Word

No matter how large the difficulty that we may be facing, God is greater. Take refuge in His protection and wait in expectant hope for Him to show His power in your life. Your problems may not suddenly disappear, but you will find peace in knowing that God is in control. Take a moment right now to “be still.”

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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