Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God Is in the Midst of His People

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth points out that throughout Scripture people struggling through the night are often delivered in the morning.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It’s not that God is not working during the night, it’s not that God is sleeping during the night, it’s just that in the light of dawn we can see what we couldn’t see during the night, and that is, how He was helping us!

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for Monday, March 23, 2020. I'm Dannah Gresh.

As you’re about to hear, when Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth was going through a personal storm at one point in her life, she turned to Psalm 46. It’s a reminder of God’s unshakable power. She recorded a teaching series out of that experience.

And as our world faces so much upheaval, we wanted to bring you this series about trusting God to be the rock we stand on. We began the series last week and if you missed any of it, you can listen at ReviveOurHearts.com. The series is called "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

Nancy: We’re on day five of our series on Psalm 46, and today we’re coming to verse 5. We’re taking a leisurely pace, but hasn't this been rich? To see how every word of God matters and means something and speaks to our hearts? I’m actually skipping over stuff, too.

This has just been so rich to me, and as you’ve heard, if you were part of the series earlier, this series is being “birthed” out of a crucible that I’m walking through as we are recording. By the time we air this, I don’t know where I’ll be on all that, but God knows. In the meantime I’m anchoring my heart, my mind.

We will lose our minds if we don’t tether them to God’s Word. You can’t look at what’s going on in the news, think about what’s going on in your own world, without wanting to throw up your hands. A woman said earlier today as a result of circumstances in her life, she was in a deep depression. There’s so much in this world that could make you live in deep depression if you don’t know God, Who is our refuge and strength and a very present help in trouble.

I'm preaching to myself and counseling my own heart as we are walking through this series. It's encouraging to me to hear how it is ministering grace to many of your hearts as well.

Let me read through the first portion of the psalm, and then we’ll park today on verse 5, which has become one of my favorite verses in this psalm:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. [There is trouble, but there’s always God.] Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved [or hurled] into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Then, big contrast here, verse 4,

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 

We said that river is the presence of God, the grace of God. It's a gently flowing river. It's the river of His Spirit, the river of His Word. We traced that river in the last session from Genesis to Revelation, and there were lots of other verses that we could have added.

But it is a river that is contrasted to the surging, roaring, destructive waters of God's enemies. It's the river of God's blessing that flows into the city of God, the people of God, those who know God, those whose lives are the habitation and the dwelling place of the most high God.

Verse 5, "God is in the midst of her."

Who is “her” there? The city of God, the people of God, Jerusalem, the earthly Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem, the spiritual Jerusalem, God’s people.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved. [I love this phrase.] God will help her when morning dawns. (vv. 1–5)

God is in the midst of her. This is one of the most precious promises of God to His people, to dwell not only with His people, but in His people. God is in the midst of her. You see it in the Old Testament; you see it in the New Testament. It’s another thread . . .

By the way, some of you are Bible teachers or you love studying the Scripture. This is the way to study God’s Word, as far as I’m concerned. People ask me for the secrets of my study methods—I have none. I just find something like the “river of God,” or “the city of God,” or “God is in the midst of her,” and then I start looking for it all the way through Scripture. As you cross-reference these things you’re putting together, a picture emerges of God’s ways, God’s redemptive plan.

That’s why it’s so important to be reading through the Scripture, to not just camp in the Psalms, wonderful as they are. I’m in the Psalms in this whole series, but can you see how I’m pulling in the Old and New Testament to tell us what these things mean, to shed light, and to give us understanding?

So, “God is in the midst of her.” Think about that passage in Leviticus 26,

I will make my dwelling among you [God says]. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall my people. (vv. 11–12)

God is interested in relationship. God is interested in being near to His people. Proximity matters to God. He doesn’t want to be just some god out there that we hear about and we talk about, or we give mental assent to.

He wants to be in us, to dwell in us, to be related to us, to make His dwelling place in us. That is the picture that we have in the Old Testament temple, the tabernacle. What was the point? It was not just a building or a tent where people go to have religious services, but God says, “I will dwell with you. I will be in you, I will be among you.”

We have even the sense of that being God’s goal in the Old Testament. Zechariah chapter 2, verse 10, “Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord."

Some of you are looking at me like, "What is the big deal?" It is a big deal. God, the God of the universe, Lord of Hosts, YahwehElohim, the God, the transcendent God, the Creator, the preserver, He says, “I will dwell in you. I will dwell your midst. I will dwell in your church, in your family, in your life!"

Everything in our lives that’s good, holy, valuable, and wonderful flows out of God dwelling in our midst.

The presence of God, everything in our lives that’s good and holy and valuable and wonderful flows out of God dwelling in our midst. God says, “I will dwell in your midst.” John chapter 1 (this comes to the New Testament), “The Word became flesh,” God put on human flesh, “and dwelt among us.” He “tabernacled” among us, “and we have seen His glory.” We know Him as Emmanuel, God with us. That’s what Psalm 46 looks forward to, God is in the midst of her.

When Jesus returned to heaven, He promised He would send the Holy Spirit. John 14, Jesus said, “He dwells with you and he will be in you” (v. 17). Christ in you, the Holy Spirit in you, your hope of glory. This isn’t just a phrase you can just pass over, Psalm 46, “God is in the midst of her.” So what? There’s a huge “so what” to all of that. “God is in the midst of you,” makes all the difference in the world.

Then we have the New Heaven and the New Earth, the City of God in Revelation 21, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man” (v. 3). Is that awesome? That the Holy God would make His dwelling place with poor, sinful, wicked, fallen prodigal man. Of course, He can only do that because He’s sent His Son to redeem us from our sin.

The dwelling place of God is with man. “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev. 21:3). In his commentary on Psalm 46, John Calvin said,

If we desire to be protected by the hand of God, we must be concerned above all things that he may dwell amongst us; for all hope of safety depends upon his presence alone.

“God is in the midst of her.” The presence of God is our highest hope, our ultimate hope and blessing. You saw in verse 4 that "there’s a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High." You saw that the place where God’s presence dwells is happy and it’s holy.

Now in verse 5, “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God will help her when morning dawns.” We see that the place where God’s presence dwells is safe, and it’s secure. Happy and holy . . .  safe and secure . . . it doesn’t get any better than that, ladies. That’s what happens when God’s presence dwells in and among us.

So God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. That is, she will not be destroyed, she will not be defeated. It doesn’t mean you won’t have problems, but it means that when God is in the midst of His city, His people, your life, you will not be defeated; you will not be destroyed by the enemies of God.

That’s such a contrast to what we’ve already looked at in verse 2, where we saw the mountains being hurled into the sea, mountains being moved into the sea, and yet God says His holy ones will not be moved. How amazing is that?

Verse 6 tells us (we haven’t got there yet; we will in the next program) that the kingdoms totter; the kingdoms of the earth are not secure. Mountains and kingdoms seem much more mighty and enduring and impressive than the city of God, the Church, the people of God. We feel weak and frail and overrun so many times by this world and its system.

But if God is in the midst of His people, they have a stability that will outlive and outlast all other forces and powers in the universe, and God’s people will be standing firm when kingdoms and mountains crumble and are no more. That’s what happens when God is in the midst of us.

Because God is in the midst of her, the city of God, the people of God are more secure than the mighty mountains of verse 3. Psalm 112 says, “The righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever.” That gives your life, your emotions, your mind stability, an anchor for your soul.

Here’s how my friend, Matthew Henry, says it,

The church shall survive the world, and be in bliss when that is in ruins. The church is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If God be for us, if God be with us, we need not be moved at the most violent attempts made against us.

We’re so used to thinking in this feeble, weak, frail, overcome manner. You know, “Islam is taking over the world, the forces of evil, the forces of materialism and consumerism, socialism, bad government . . .” we just end up in this puny, little mindset that leaves us depressed. So we need to counsel our hearts, renew our hearts in the ways of God.

When God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. We need a whole different perspective, God’s perspective. The verse goes on to say, not only will we not be moved, defeated, destroyed, but God will help her when morning dawns. He’s the only sure help and hope for His people.

Scripture reminds us over and over again of the futility, the foolishness of looking to anyone or anything else for help. Psalm 60, “Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (vv. 11–12).

Psalm 146, verse 3, “Put not your trust in princes, in the son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” Listen, princes, like your Prince Charming, can seem wealthy and handsome and secure, but God says, “Don’t put your hope there.”

Verse 5, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” The great hymn writer and co-founder of the Methodist movement, Charles Wesley, was preaching once in the fields of Ireland when he was attacked and pursued by a mob who disapproved of his doctrine. So he sought refuge in the house of a local farmer, and the farmer’s wife sent him out to hide in the milk shed.

But shortly, the angry mob arrived at the house and demanded to know where Wesley was. The farmer’s wife offered the opponents, the pursuers, something to eat, and while they were snacking, she went out to the milk shed and told Mr. Wesley to go out through the window and to hide under a nearby hedge that was located next to a brook.

It was in that place, hiding from his pursuers, with their cries echoing all around him, that Charles Wesley wrote what some have called the greatest hymn in the English language, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." Let me read the second stanza to you and picture him under that hedge next to the brook:

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee; 
Leave, oh! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me. 
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring; 
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

I don’t know that there’s any line in hymnody that is more precious to me than that one. I’ve cried that out so many times, “O, Lord, cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Your wing.” And though we may be defenseless, what safer place is there to be than under the shadow of the wing of our Helper God?

“God will help her when morning dawns,” literally, at the turning of the morning, at the break of day. It’s so often true in Scripture that dawn, the breaking of the day is seen to be the time of God’s help. Let me give you three examples. I’ll just mention them, and you can go back and look at them more carefully.

In Exodus 14 do you remember the story of how the Israelites had just been delivered out of Egypt and were being pursued by the Egyptian army? They were hemmed in at the Red Sea. The people were terrified, and Moses said, “Don’t be afraid.” Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

“Stand firm and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. . . . The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (v. 13)

Then, verse 24,

And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, "Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians." Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and upon their horsemen."

So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the hosts of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (vv. 24–29)

God saves His people, helps them at the turn of day, the break of day, the dawning of the day, and at the same time brings judgment on His enemies.

Second Kings 19 is a passage we’ve looked at in this series, because we said that Psalm 46 may have been written on the occasion of God’s sending a great deliverance to His people when King Sennacherib and the Assyrian army were terrifying and terrorizing Jerusalem and the inhabitants of Judah. King Hezekiah cried out to the Lord, and then we read:

Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come in to the city, declares the Lord.

Now, we believe it because we’ve read the story, but if you were there in that moment, would you have believed it, with that army breathing down your neck? God says,

“For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David." And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck the down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.

Supernatural deliverance, supernatural help, no human explanation!

Then Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed and went home and lived at Ninevah. (vv. 32–36)

God fulfills His promises. “At the break of day, God will come and help her.”

He may not come immediately; it may not seem that He is coming to our aid immediately, but He will come. Sometimes we have to go through the night first before we get to the break of day. The night may seem long, it may seem endless, but we need to remind ourselves, and remind each other, that dawn is ahead. With the dawn of the day will come His supernatural, right-on-time help.

“Weeping may endure for the night,” Psalm 30 says, “but joy comes,” when? “in the morning” (v. 5). Something that just struck me as I was thinking about this last night, it’s not that God is not working during the night, it’s not that God is sleeping during the night, and then He wakes up when the sun comes up and says, “Oh, I think I’d better go down and help those people.”

It’s just that in the light of dawn we can see what we couldn’t see during the night, and that is, how He was helping us! As the morning light dissipates the shadows of night, so the rising of the Son of Righteousness signals the dispersing of the darkness of evil and adversity.

God is working all through the night. He was in that Red Sea situation. He was during the night with the Assyrians. He was working. But when it’s dark, we can’t see what God’s doing, and that’s why I love that quote by Pastor John Piper, “In every situation God is doing a thousand different things that we cannot see and we do not know.”

It may be “night” where you live right now and you think, “Nothing’s happening, nothing’s changing. Is God really working?” The Scripture says, God will help at dawn, and what I think that’s really saying is that at dawn you will see how God has been helping. God is a helper, and He will disperse and dissipate the night.

Let me just remind us that His help is not just extreme emergency situations, much as we need it then, but it’s for every day, because every hour I need Thee. Right?

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam. 3:22–23)

If I can quote my friend Matthew Henry again, he says,

This may be applied by particular believers to themselves [that means you can apply it], if God be in our hearts, in the midst of us, by his word indwelling richly in us, we shall be established, we shall be helped; let us therefore trust and not be afraid; all is well, and will end well.1

As I meditated on this verse, Psalm 46, verse 5, “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved, God will help her when morning dawns," I couldn’t help but think of a hymn that is familiar, perhaps, to most of you. Let me just read the words, and let’s affirm them in our hearts:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, 
Is laid for your faith in His excellence Word! 
What more can He say than to you He has said, 
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, 
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid; 
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand 
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, 
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply; 
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design 
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.2 

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back. I know this study of Psalm 46 has been encouraging all of us as we look to the Lord for help in a time of fear.

That teaching from Nancy is part of a nine-day series called “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” We’re able to bring you timely messages like this thanks to listeners who give to the ministry.

I know everyone is facing financial uncertainty right now, and as a ministry, we encourage you to ask the Lord to provide for your needs. He will take care of you. And we also want you to keep giving to your church and look out for needs of hurting people around you. And as God provides and puts it on your heart, Revive Our Hearts also has continued needs.

When you support the ministry with a gift of any amount this week, we’d like to say thanks by sending you the book Nancy wrote with her husband Robert called You Can Trust God to Write Your Story. In the book they interviewed a number of people struggling through all kinds of crises. Each of them learned to trust God and watch His plan unfold. You’ll learn that too as you read the book.

I think we’ve all been challenged to trust God in new ways the last few weeks and I know this book can help you keep a godly perspective when life doesn’t make sense. You can donate any amount and ask for the book. Our web address is ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call 1–800–569–5959.

Does it ever seem like enemies of the gospel have so much strength that they’ve become invincible? Tomorrow, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will give you some new perspective. Please be back with us then. Now, she’s back to pray, based on a promise from Psalm 46.

Nancy: Lord, how we praise You for your wonderful, wonderful promises, and for this one in particular, which we take to our own hearts this day, “God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God will help her when morning dawns.”

Lord, thank You that soon this long night on this sinful planet will be ended. The great, eternal, cloudless morning will dawn and forever we'll be in Your presence.

Help us to remember that when it seems really dark around us. Help us to cling to You with eyes of faith, that will one day be sight. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you look to God for all your hope. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1 Matthew Henry. Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Ps 46:1–5). Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996.

2 "How Firm a Foundation." John Rippon, 1787.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.