The Glad River
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. – Psalm 46:4-5 (NRSV)
My last semester in seminary was the first I took notes on a laptop instead of in a notebook. I remember typing as fast as I could while Professor Mobley spoke about the psalms and the prophets. Some people really know how to teach, and images from that semester stay with me. Psalm 46 became my favorite after he captivated me with the title for one particular lecture, “The Glad River,” reminding me of the river that flowed by my hometown.
The psalm holds images of mountains shaking, foaming seas, and nations in uproar, too familiar in this time of trial. Jerusalem had been under attack by a much more powerful enemy, the army of the Assyrians. Picture the siege towers in the Lord of the Rings movies, and the amazing unexpected victory the heroes win in the end, or a last-moment rescue of a heroine from the railroad tracks.
I wish I still had those notes; I lost them in a move from one computer to another. But I still have the “aha” moment of connection with the glad river and with the psalm’s words of assurance I turn to again and again. That assurance is the home I seek, wherever I may be. When the world shakes around us, whatever kind of threat we are facing, God is our refuge and strength. God will make war cease. God will help us.
Holy God, when things are in turmoil, you are there for us. Thanks be to you, our refuge and strength. Amen.
Martha Spong is a UCC pastor, a clergy coach, and editor of The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle, new from The Pilgrim Press.