Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #238 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalms 46-47 today and our focus is on Dangerously Misinterpreting the Bible + Does God Protect us From All Trouble? (Soapbox alert) We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Even though our focus is going to mainly be in Psalm 46 today, let’s open with reading Psalm 47, and just take a moment to worship God. Psalm 47 isn’t particularly complex or multi-layered, it is a short, sweet and wonderful call to worship. May it call our hearts to worship God as we listen.
Psalm 46 contains a verse that I have seen misinterpreted quite a bit. It’s not the top of my list on Bible verses that are wrongly applied or wrongly interpreted – that honor goes to Jeremiah 29:11: “11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. ” This is a wonderful promise of God and a great look into the character and mercy of our Heavenly Father. Should we put such a verse on our church sign, so that everybody driving by can, “claim this verse for themselves?”
Let me answer that question in a roundabout way by asking a different question: Is every Bible passage directly about you and me? Or, to even simplify it more: is every Bible promise claimable by you and me? Can we go to every promise in the Bible and somehow “claim” it for our own lives? What about:
I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:1-2)
Is God promising to make you and me into a great nation? To make our name great? To curse anybody that treats us with contempt? Is God making a promise here – to us – that ALL of the peoples on earth will be blessed through us? Of course not! This is a very specific promise to Abram – we can’t just reach out and grab it, because it wasn’t spoken to us.
What about: “14 You will be blessed above all peoples; there will be no infertile male or female among you or your livestock. 15 The Lord will remove all sickness from you; he will not put on you all the terrible diseases of Egypt that you know about, but he will inflict them on all who hate you. ” Deuteronomy 7:14.
Do you and I have a promise from God that we can claim here that says we will be blessed above ALL peoples? That nobody infertile will be among us? That God will remove ALL SICKNESS from among us? Of course not – this was a conditional blessing pronounced by Moses on God’s people if they wholeheartedly followed Him. (They did not do this, and thus did not have this blessing on them.)
Stepping back a bit: Is Jeremiah 29:11 a promise that you and I can claim? I don’t believe so – here is the wider context:
10 For this is what the Lord says: “When seventy years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will restore you to the place from which I deported you.” Jeremiah 29:10-14
See the context there? This is a promise spoken by God to God’s people who were in exile at the time, and they would have to wait decades to walk in it. I actually think it is quite irresponsible to put such promises and verse on church signs, or mugs, or social media posts- because this is not a promise directed at us. Can we learn from it? Yes, of course! I believe vs. 13 contains a powerful instructive principle that indicates those who wholeheartedly seek God will find Him: 13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. And that principle is repeated elsewhere in Scripture as a promise. Why am I bringing this up? Because I frequently see Psalm 46:5 quoted on social media – especially in profiles – as a promise that God will not allow a particular woman to fail. “God is within her; she will not fall.” You can find this “promise” in tattoos and all sorts of social media graphics. Just Google, “God is within her.” And people read that out of context, and believe it means that they will never stumble, fall, or fail, and, my friend, that is not how life works, and that is not a promise from God that we will never fall when God is within us. Here’s the context of this verse:
There is a river— its streams delight the city of God,
the holy dwelling place of the Most High.
5 God is within her; she will not be toppled.
God will help her when the morning dawns. Psalm 46:4-5
This is God’s promise to protect His city -the City of God, which is referred to here with a feminine pronoun. It’s actually quite literal – God lives in His city and it (she!) will NEVER fall. Why does God’s city have a female pronoun? Fascinating question, and I’ve no idea…maybe a future episode topic.
SO – does that mean that some of the women out there that God dwells in will FALL? More broadly: does God protect His most faithful people from times of trouble? Does He keep us from trials and tribulations – even ones that overwhelm us? If you’ve been reading the Word for a while, or listening to this podcast for a few episodes…you know the answer is NO – God does NOT keep His people from trouble, tribulation and falls. BUT, as our Psalm says today:
God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas, Psalm 46:1-2
He is WITH us. He is our helper. He is our refuge and strength. We will walk through the Valley of Death, and He WILL be with us! That is a real and genuine promise that you can trust in and rest on. Let’s read Psalm 46 together.
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A Salinas Church in Northern California.
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