Episode 3. When the Mountains Fall into the Sea. Psalm 46.
We live in a scary world. Today, Nicole and Sharon look at a psalm written for times of crisis. Step aside from the busy and enjoy a Sweet Selah Moment as we look at God's instructions on what to do in a crisis.
Show Notes: Correction from Sharon: When speaking of the planes crashing on 9/11, I said the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was headed for the Pentagon. No. The Pentagon was hit that day. The plane that crashed in that field was headed for the White House. Note to Readers: Please follow and subscribe and review for us. We'd love for more people to learn of our podcast. And comment below. We'd love that, too!! 🙂
Speaker 0 00:00 We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast including show notes can be firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. Thank you for joining us.
Nicole 00:22 Well hello and welcome to Sweet Selah Moments podcast. Today is episode three “When the mountains fall into the sea”. We started looking at Psalm 46 on our first episode and only dissected verse 10. Today we’re going to go back and look at the whole Psalm. Here’s Sharon to read it to us.
Sharon Hey friends, as I read you this beautiful Psalm again today, would you listen carefully for the word Selah and when you hear it just stop and think about what I just read. I’ll pause and think with you. Then we’ll go onto the next stanza of the Psalm, which would have been sung in ancient days. This is a Psalm to hold you steady in the very hardest of times. Psalm 46 to the chief musician, a song of the sons of Korah, a song for Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Sharon 01:20 Therefore we will not fear. Even though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the Holy place of the tabernacle of the most high God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved. God shall help her. Just at the break of dawn, the nations raged, the kingdoms were moved. He uttered his voice. The earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah Come behold the works of the Lord who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two. He burns the chariot in the fire.
Sharon 02:26 Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah You know this Psalm has huge significance to me, Nicole, because of 9-11 way back in the day, September 11th I think everybody that was living then age five years old or above remembers that day. I was praying in my house with a Mom’s in Prayer group for the Christian school where my husband teaches, Portsmouth Christian Academy. We were a Moms in Prayer group and we were in the middle of prayer. And the rule in Moms in Prayer is when you’re praying you just stay praying. The phone rang and I cannot tell you to this day why I answered that phone because the phone had rung before and I’ve never picked it up.
Sharon 03:21 We were praying, I picked it up and it was my Aunt Nancy and she said, ‘Turn on the TV now’. And so I did and all of us crowded around the TV and we saw the second plane go into the tower. We’d missed the first plane and immediately, because we were mothers, we wanted to go to the school and be with our kids. And thankfully it was a Christian school so we could, so we went to the school, we talked to the principal of the high school and said, how can we serve you? How can we help? And that’s when they told us that Tom McGuinness, the father of two of the students at our school had been in that second plane and that their mom was on the way over to tell her children that their daddy had died. Yeah, it was unbelievable. So classes were suspended and we had the freedom to go and pray with these kids.
Sharon 04:18 And so we were there when the news was broken. And of course the whole school was torn up doubly because we knew somebody involved, you know, and I didn’t have all the words, you know what I mean? I mean, what do you say to a teenager whose best friend’s daddy just died in that way? So I turned to Psalm 46, and I will forever associate this Psalm with that event because it was perfect for it. It says though the mountains fall into the sea, though everything is chaos, God is still with us even then. And it wasn’t any personal word I said that helped. It was God’s word that helped because he was still with us. And that Psalm has come to mean the world because of that. And I’ve loved it ever since. And I think it’s a great Psalm in times of crisis.
Sharon 05:17 How about you? Where were you on 9-11?
Nicole Well, let’s see. I was a freshman in high school. We were also at a Christian school as well and I didn’t think about it until you had mentioned today about going and praying at this school and what a blessing that was at the time to be in a place where our first reaction was to pray and to gather and support each other. So that was really neat. We all went up to the lounge and turned the big TV on and just kinda sat there and watched.
Sharon So they let you watch the TV too?
Nicole But it was just terrifying as a young person. You hear of news but you don’t really think it’s going to happen. Right. And then it happens in your own country and it’s just heartbreaking.
Sharon 05:55 And it happened repeatedly cause then you had those two and then you had the Pentagon one (and the one) where the plane crashed in Pennsylvania and you wonder what’s going to be next.
Nicole Right. And your friends are worried if their family works, you know. So there was a couple people that had family members they were concerned about but we didn’t have anyone that lost anyone. So yeah, it was very difficult to have to go through this. So hard.
Sharon And our two daughters, Ray had just gotten out of the military and was now teaching at Portsmouth Christian. Their first response was, ’Mama, is Daddy going to have to go to war?’ Because they’d already seen their daddy in a war, the Persian Gulf War. And so they were thinking he’d have to go back. So this is a Psalm for times when things go nuts and on the news, any day of the week, you can get yourself in a place where you need to read it because things don’t stay stable like you want them to.
Sharon 06:48 Earthquakes happen, you know, illness happens. You’re just going along fine and all of a sudden you’ve got pancreatic cancer and you’re given two months to live. A car accident happens. We think we have control, but we do not. Life is full of the unexpected. And a Psalm that was written by whoever the sons of Korah are millennia ago still speaks because the human condition has not changed. It’s still there. So I just have a few things that I wanted to share from this first section of this Psalm that I learned from it. Number one, when calamity hits God is the refuge and strength. God, no one else. Tall buildings can fall down. The ground can literally swallow you like those sinkholes. That always freaks me out. I do not want to go places with sink holes. It’s really awful to me.
Sharon 07:44 But you know, anything can happen. But wherever we end up, God is there and he’s the only one that is. Nothing else is solid. Even the ground beneath our feet is not. So when calamity hits, God is the refuge. God is the strength. And that’s why this Psalm was what calmed us that day because it reminded us of the truth that no matter what happens, he’s there. So that’s number one. And number two, I liked the word present. He is a very present help. He’s there with you in the midst. It’s not like God watches from a distance and catches up with us later. He’s there. And we’ve heard testimony after testimony of people in concentration camps that sensed God’s presence there. And I’ve had times when I felt so lost and alone, but when I’ve cried out to him, I knew he was there and I needed that.
Sharon 08:39 In fact, I can remember one time when I pictured myself as a two year old because they’re pretty helpless and I felt pretty helpless. And I pictured that I was in this strange city and everything was crazy. And I just lifted my little hand up and pictured my strong father God’s hand holding me and thinking you’re present. And I had my hand up saying ‘just hold me, take me through this. I don’t know what to do, but if you’re present with me I can handle it. You know, so when calamity hits God’s the only refuge and strength and he’s a present help, he’s there in it. I just love verses two and three, therefore we will not fear even though the earth be removed. Okay. So if the whole earth is removed, like we’re in really deep trouble unless we know Christ and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Sharon 09:35 And I think the Psalmist chose mountains because mountains, I mean they stay mountains, right? Right. For centuries. They’re just there. Right. So if they ever went into the sea, whoa, that would be crazy. Although its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling and then Selah. It’s like the sons of Korah needed to give super bad examples of the worst things that could happen to drive home the point that God will always be there. So, but what an odd place to put a Selah, Nicole after that section. Why do you think that was where they wanted us to stop?
Nicole I know I wouldn’t want to stop there. That’s terrifying. I want to move onto the good part after reading that.is Maybe to just ponder all of those end of the road circumstances and see, Oh yeah, bad things could really get really bad.
Nicole 10:26 And then you say, ‘now what?’ You’re holding your breath. Like, okay, what now? Right, right. I think that’s it. And it starts, it’s introduced with God as the refuge and strength, but then it goes on to all these terrible things and then stops us right there. I like that. It’s that we know God is. Right? And then life comes and bad things come. And do we remember afterward, okay, now what? I know he’s good, but life is bad. So how does that work?
Sharon Right, right, exactly. And this is one reason I just am so thankful for the word of God. The way it’s written, it’s written truthfully, God’s our present strength. But mountains fall into the sea, right? Daddy’s die. You know horrible things happen but God is still a refuge and strength. And I think that first Selah is just a sort of simmer in that place for a minute of receiving the fact that bad things can happen, you know?
Sharon 11:18 So I don’t know. When we get to heaven, perhaps we’ll meet up with the sons of Korah, right? Why is this here? I actually think of all the things I want to ask that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before me.
Nicole Oh I know with my notebook with me.
Sharon Exactly. So the Selah thing, what is this? You know, so, okay, so we’ve got this calamity going on and then we’ve got the break, we’ve got the pause, the stop, and then we’re totally removed from the chaos for a minute. And verse four. So let me read this next section. It says there is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God. Okay, so we’ve gone from chaos to yay, happy river city, the Holy place of the tabernacle of the most high God is in the midst of her.
Sharon 12:05 She shall not be moved. That city of God, unlike any earthly city or tall towers, she will not be moved. God shall help her. Just at the break of dawn, the nations raged, the kingdoms were moved. He uttered his voice. The earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. So that’s a fun little passage. Nicole, does anything strike you from the middle section?
Nicole Oh my goodness. I love the verse that says ‘God is in the midst of her and she shall not be moved’. Just that’s a good place to sit and kind of marinate for a while. Wow, God is within the city of Jerusalem too. We could have said God is within us and we will not be moved because God is within us. And that just gives you goosebumps.
Sharon 12:58 It does because you’ve just heard about all these catastrophes and yet there is a place that cannot be touched. If the earth moves underneath my feet, God is my foundation. He is my solid place.
Nicole I don’t have to fear. Exactly.
Sharon So exactly. So and there is a place to come where there’s some river that runs through the city of God that makes everybody glad.
Nicole You’re right. I kind of needed gladness after all that doom, you know and sort of the encouragement that as bad as it gets here, that’s not the end of the story.
Sharon It’s the middle. The ending is good, the ending is beautiful. In fact, I often picture that river because you see it in Daniel, you see it in Revelation. There’s some kind of stream coming out from the throne room and on either side there’s trees that don’t lose their leaves and have fruits and stuff. Sharon 13:51 And I just kind of imagine it and think why the Grand Canyon is beautiful. The ocean is beautiful. All the things that God has made now are beautiful. But Daniel saw and John saw something even beautiful-er. I am well aware that is not a word, but it just fits. And when you see that, every hard thing will sort of melt away. And the gladness of the finality of living with God when he dwells among us, you know, it’s just so happy that God is able to do that. And so we’re comforted because even though he is strong enough to make the earth melt, which does say he uttered his voice, the earth melted. Okay. So that’s strong. That’s pretty strong. I feel it’s strong. Yes. And that would eliminate all of us in this world. So there is a city of God whose rivers make the city glad.
Sharon 14:46 We’re really glad that if the earth melts there’s somewhere else to go. Right. And he’ll be with us there. He’s with us now. He’s with us there.
Nicole To have that hope in the middle of the earth being melted and the nations raging is such a beautiful gift from him.
Sharon Yes. And I think sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you have to remember that this isn’t the end. Because despair is when you turn your back on everything because you’re just in this pit and you forget that it’s not the end of the story. Right. And we know the end, we know to remember the end and not lose heart. And also have this fun thing with the God of Jacob because it’s so personal. It’s not just a general God. Jacob’s God, you know? He’s also the God of Nicole. He’s the God of Sharon. Sharon 15:35 And I love that it’s not just this general Lord of hosts, but also a specific man’s God that you worship. A personal God. Isn’t that neat? And so you go from the Lord of hosts and a host of angels. He’s in charge of angelic beings. So BIG God, to Jacob’s God. And they’re both true about him. So I kind of like thinking of both those things. And angels are always, I don’t know, fascinating to me because whenever anybody sees an angel, they fall down as though dead.
Nicole Yes. And the first thing they have to say is ‘don’t be afraid’.
Sharon 16:18 Yes, and this is good thing. This is not a bad thing, right? So, if he’s Lord of all of them, he’s big. He actually is big. So I love that. Okay, last the last section in the Psalm is, let me find it here. Okay, ‘come behold the works of the Lord who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two. He burns the chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.’ And then that refrain again, ‘the Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge’. Selah. So now we’ve gone from the trauma of the first stanza to the ‘Hey, but that’s not the end of the story’.
Sharon 17:21 We have a city of God. We have a God who is with us no matter what. And now we’re sort of seeing the end of the world there. When he’s stopping wars and ceasing and Jesus is going to reign I think. What do you think as you read that?
Nicole Yeah, I thought he’s making desolation on the earth and he’s making the wars cease. I just love that part because ‘be still and know that I am God’ is a fairly common verse that we all love and I just love that it’s right in the middle of all of this though. Like he’s in the middle of breaking the bows and cutting the spears and chariots are burning and, ‘be still’ like that’s him doing all of that. He is God. Oh, I just love that. I love where it’s put in the Psalm.
Sharon 18:01 Yeah, he is doing it so we can be still. Yeah, huh. Yes, exactly. We’re seeing all this happening. You don’t have to be afraid, it’s from God. It’s almost like it’s the apex of the whole thing. All these things are happening around us, out of our control. Just be still,
Nicole Right, and let him do his work. Let him do it.
Sharon That’s right.
Nicole And trust that the ending will be good even if the middle is breaking your heart.
Sharon Exactly. And he’s breaking his heart right along with you in the sense that God weeps with those that weep. I know. I love that verse. It brings such comfort. It does, doesn’t it? He’s there with us. I mean, he knew when he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead that Lazarus was going to walk out of the grave. Yeah, but first he wept. I’ve always thought thank you for that, Lord.
Sharon 18:47 Thank you for showing us that. Even though you knew the answer was going to be good, that didn’t mean you were happy about everybody’s misery. You cried. So hurt. It’s still hurt and you got it and you grieved with these dear sisters that wanted their brother alive. You pause to hurt with us and I think that is the kindest thing for God to do. I really do. So we can be still, we can trust him and know that he is God. So now how about this knowing thing? How do we know that he is God? What are the things we do in our lives that solidify that knowing?
Nicole Hmm. I think that’s an interesting thought. That is because we say it, but do we really understand? I think for me, it’s been in the hard times and then the trouble seeing God in it.
Nicole 19:42 Sometimes. Not in the moment always, but looking back, if you look back and see where God has brought us, you go, Oh, I see God through this. Oh, he was there. I knew he was there, and I see his hand working through even the bad, and he uses the bad. He turns it into something good. He does. He redeemed so many hard things. He never wastes our pain, and I just think that is such a beautiful thing that he does.
Sharon Yeah. Going back to the McGuinness’s story, Cheryl McGuinness, when she came in to tell her children that their daddy had died, she said it so beautifully and simply, God just gave her the words. She just said, ‘Kids, Jesus chose to take daddy home today’. Wow. And that was just the sweetest, a beautiful little way to say it.
Nicole So even in her incredible grief, she was speaking truth about who God was.
Sharon 20:32 Right. God numbered her husband’s days. The Bible says all our days are numbered. Some babies, like some of my grand babies who were miscarried and they had a very short number of days, but God had numbered them too. And God had numbered everybody in 9-11’s days. And we could trust that Jesus had brought him home. So I think living in that reality of that was what she needed to do for the kids’ sake. I really do. And then the knowing of God, she knew him well enough to know he had her husband. Right. Right. I remember when Ray was in the Persian Gulf War, we were in Germany and Kathryn was six and Mary was four. And one day Kathryn looked at me and said, mama, is daddy gonna die?
Nicole Oh wow that’s a big question.
Sharon I know, for a six year old, with a four year old, with her little thumb in her mouth listening in, I’m like, Oh my goodness, what do I say?
Sharon 21:30 So I chose the truth because what if he did die? And I said, Oh no, daddy won’t die. And he did. Furthermore it would’ve been a lie. So I said, yeah, he might die, honey. But if he dies, he’ll be home with Jesus. And we can trust that if that happens, God will give us strength to keep going. So, but you have to know God well enough that you can say that and believe it. And how do we know God? We spend time with him. I think that’s the thing. We study the names of God who he says he is, that he’s a Shepherd, that he’s a Light, that he guides our paths, that he’s gentle, that he’s trustworthy. All these things help us know him.
Nicole And the more we know him, the more we can trust when hard things happen, I think. Well God brought that Psalm to your mind in the middle of 9-11.
Nicole 22:18 So I think if you don’t have that foundation beforehand, when trouble does come, you’re kind of left floundering. Like when you’re in an intense situation, you don’t always grab for your Bible, but it’s the words that he’s put into your heart. It’s the words you’ve memorized that he brings up and you’re like, Oh, I remember reading that and now I understand it.
Sharon You know what? That’s true. He brings them back to you. Yeah. When Ray was in the Persian Gulf War, we had just moved to Germany. So I didn’t know the language. I hadn’t even got my driver’s license when they told him that he was going from Germany to Kuwait, I’m like, Oh my goodness, I better learn the German signs, you know? Oh wow. Words like umleitung. Which means either One Way or Detour or something. But at the time I needed to know what those signs were.
Sharon 23:03 It was my German driving test. Otherwise I’d be going down one way streets the wrong way. So it was a really scary time for me, and I was in a new place. I had never lived overseas before, and I was in these really ugly, concrete, huge apartments, not that pretty at all. And every night there were soldiers walking with guns guarding us. When I’d go out to walk my dogs from nowhere, these guys would come and stand beside me.
Nicole Oh wow.
Sharon To protect me. And I’m like this is comforting and frightening all at the same time that they’re needed out here. And when we entered the base, they’d put mirrors on sticks underneath the car to make sure a bomb had not been planted in my car while I was off base.
Nicole Oh my goodness.
Sharon So, a scary time. Yeah. In conclusion, a scary time with my husband sitting where Scud missiles were falling near him and soldiers protecting me because of terrorism, even back then.
Sharon 24:02 So yeah, no fun. But there was one thing that didn’t change and that was actually the quiet time and it was my salvation because God is my salvation. Everything else had changed. But I still sat on the corner of the couch and I still had my cup of tea and I still did that thing every morning. And it made all the difference in the world. Because I didn’t get wrapped up in watching the news and every two seconds trying to see if the missile had fallen right on his base or near his base. I had friends that never went to bed. Nicole, they just sat on the couch and watched TV; that can drive you to insanity waiting for this horrible thing to happen. Yeah, the nerves. So, to start the day with him and just believe that whether Ray died or lived, I’d be okay because of God meant that I could cope and I could be a mama to those two little girls at a hard time.
Sharon 25:02 But if I hadn’t had that discipline established, I don’t think I would have said, Oh, I think I’ll start my quiet time discipline. You know, it would have been harder because there were already so many frightening, strange things going on. So I’m just so thankful that I had that. And I’m really thankful Ray came back from the Persian Gulf Wars, but that was kind of my mountain falling into the sea; to lose my husband to war and to not know what the end results would be. So it’s really a hard time, but grateful, grateful for the word of God.
Nicole God carried you through that and that you had that habit built in so it was there. Your rock as your place to go to was already established.
Sharon Right. It wasn’t the news, it was God’s word. Yes. Which was way more stabilizing.
Nicole Oh yeah. The news can be terrible to watch.
Nicole 25:52 Oh my goodness.
Sharon Well you who are listening today, I suspect you have had a few mountains fall into the sea too. We all do, and I am sorry for whatever your particular grief has been. And I’m so happy to tell you that if you know Jesus, he’s weeping with you. He is the kind, good God who hurts when you hurt and who loves you so much. And I’m glad to tell you that you’re in the middle of your story and not the end. The end, if you’ve asked him to be your Lord and Savior is good and you will be glad and perhaps we’ll meet up there, if we haven’t met down here, by that stream that evidently is a really happy one, and enjoy being together there again. So don’t lose hope friend. Just sit at his feet. Tell him when you’re upset with him, tell him when you’re unhappy, but go to him.
Sharon 26:54 Go to him in the crises and know that he is a very present help there. Let me pray for you. Oh heavenly Father, I thank you that you are not just here in the good times, but you are with us in trauma. God, we don’t understand why things are allowed, but we do know you are good. We do know that you are comforter and we do know that you have prepared something beautiful for us in the future. So Father, give hope and strength to whoever’s listening today, comfort them, wrap them in your big Abba father arms. Draw them ever closer to yourself, please. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Nicole Amen. Oh, we’re so glad you joined us today. We would love to hear from you. We hope something from this show today has spurred you to meet with God, the God who loves you. Write us on our show notes and be sure to follow us and share us with your friends. Next time we’re going to talk about the busy-ness addiction and how to break it. Join us for episode four ‘How to stop the busy’. I cannot wait for next time because I need this one.
Announcer 28:11 We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes, can be firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. Thank you for joining us.
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