Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
The last verse of Psalm 48 is one of my personal favorites. It reads,
This God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end (v. 14).
What a wonderful relationship, “God is our God.” He is not an impersonal God in a cold universe, who abandons us to time and chance. He is a God who is close, he is our forever God. Kingdoms fall and worlds explode, but our God watches over us.
“He will be our guide even to the end.” What a wonderful view of our journey through life. God knows his way around the universe. He will be our outfitter and guide and companion and for all of our journey.
How does the poet arrive at this glorious conclusion? Psalm 48 takes us there in three movements.
The first tells us that God’s presence makes Jerusalem a city of safety and joy. The second movement describes the kings of the earth who assembled to conquer Jerusalem–but instead of attacking, they marvelled at the defences, they were immobilized with fear, they felt pain like a woman in childbirth, and they ran away. Such is the impact of God’s presence on his enemies. The third movement in the psalm celebrates God’s covenant with Israel, which makes the city a place of loving kindness, righteousness, and joy.
Lord, the poet experienced deep confidence in your presence in Jerusalem, the city of the great king, and in the temple, where he meditated on your great love. But my city and my church do not produce the same deep feelings in me. My church’s 1950’s architecture, its troublesome sound system, the fading blue carpet, the hard wooden pews make me feel time-bound and insignificant. During the sermon, I look out the windows–thankfully my church has windows–and I welcome your presence in the falling snow in winter or the flower beds in summer.
But some Sundays you meet me there. Sometimes as music plays, I lift my hands and lose my anxious heart in your kind heart. Sometimes the sermon brings a word of truth and hope and confidence. Sometimes when I confess that, “I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed”, your forgiveness washes over me. Sometimes when I kneel at the rail and taste the bread and sip the wine, I feel your welcoming presence.
Lord, we know that the city of Jerusalem failed. The glory which entered the temple at Solomon’s dedication departed in Ezekiel’s vision. That temple was destroyed by Babylon, the temple built to replace it was destroyed by Rome. But Jerusalem reminds us forever that place is important in our religion. You meet us, God, not only in our hearts, but in the crossroads of life, in the places where people live and worship and do business. You were present in the fortified Jerusalem that the poet celebrated. You were present on the roads of Palestine where Jesus walked. You were present in the Roman empire where Paul travelled and was imprisoned. You are present in our cities and our churches. With the hymn writer we say,
Where cross the crowded ways of life,…
we hear your voice, O Son of Man.
You are present in the universe, God, in the world, in our hearts. Wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, you are there. Wherever we look up from our labor, our meals, our video games or our rest, you are a welcoming and protecting presence.
With the poet we say,
You God are our God forever and ever.
You will be our guide even to the end.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.