Friday, 9 October 2020
Title: God’s Astounding Desolations
By: Ps Cheng Cheung

Psalm 46:8-9
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 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.

As we watch the spread of the novel coronavirus, we worry about what might happen to our families and friends, our workplaces, our recreational destinations, places of worship, and our country. We fear the desolations that might come as this virus continues to infect thousands and effectively shuts down our world.

In Psalm 46, God visits desolations on the earth, desolations of a most astounding and shocking kind. But ironically, God’s desolations fill us, not with fear, but with hope.
Psalm 46 begins: “God is our refuge and strength . . . Therefore we will not fear” (46:1-2). Verse 8 of Psalm 46 extends this invitation to us:

“Come, behold the works of the LORD; see what desolations HE has brought on the earth.”

We are invited to examine, not just God’s works, but also his desolations. Doesn’t this sound unsettling? We’d rather focus on God’s healings and blessings, not on his desolations. We understandably wonder what these desolations include. Perhaps God’s judgments on those who disobey him? His punishments for sin? Natural disasters? Or perhaps a plague of devouring insects?

The word translated in verse 8 as “desolation,” shamma in Hebrew, can mean “waste, desolation, horrific or atrocious event.” But then we continue on in Psalm 46 to see just what devastations the psalm writer has in mind:
Verse 9 [The Lord] 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.

The things that usually bring devastation to the earth – war and its weapons of mass destruction – are the things, according to the Psalm, (which will be) devastated by the hand of God. We might say that God desolates the desolations. God destroys destruction and wages war on warfare and the architects thereof, thus bringing God’s true peace to the whole earth.

Behind Psalm 46 lies a vision of God’s coming kingdom, a day when peace and justice will fill the earth (Isaiah 9:7). In that future day, human violence will cease. Under God’s reign, people ”shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)
Deathly weapons will become tools for life-promoting food production and all conflict will cease. In the midst of this ever ascending crisis, we need this vision even more than usual because it is so easy to become focused only on our challenges, disappointments, griefs, fears, and of course, the number of daily cases. We easily lose sight of what God is doing and will do in the world.

Thus, Psalm 46 reminds us that disease, including the COVID-19 pandemic, is not what God ultimately intends for our world. We can behold God’s work – including his ironic desolations – not only in our vision of the future, but also in our current reality. In this time of history, it is hard to know exactly how God will use our current pandemic for good.

Yet, we can be confident that the God who is with us now is also at work in us, through us, and around us. We hold tightly to the promise found in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” If we keep this vision in mind and heart, it animates our lives and our whole existence, so we’ll be able to live both wisely and resiliently.

Prayer for Today:

Gracious God, how amazing You are! You do indeed bring “desolations” on the earth, desolating violence and warfare as You wage peace. Thank You for giving me confident hope in Your coming kingdom and allowing me to experience, even now, evidence of Your redemptive power.

Thank You also that You have worked through struggles in my life, bringing good in the end. Thank You for Your grace and goodness. These memories give me confidence in Your sovereignty today.

Inspire me by a vision of Your future, Lord. In a world so torn by inequality, violence, injustice, and disease, help me see with spiritual eyes the confident hope of Your inevitable return and rule.

O Lord, even in the “desolations” of this moment, be at work, in our world and in Your church. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


诗篇46: 8-9





第八节的“荒凉”在希伯来语(shamma)的意思是“浪费、荒凉、恐怖或残暴的事件”。 但我们看看这位诗人对这词的想法:

“他止息刀兵,直到地极;他折弓断枪,把战车焚烧在火中。” (第九节)

本篇指出,通常给地球带来毁灭性的事物, 列如战争及大规模毁灭性武器,是被上帝之手摧毁的。我们可以说上帝摧毁苍凉。上帝停止灭亡,引起战争来反击战争,从而给整个地球带来真正的和平。

诗篇46隐藏着上帝將來国度的異象:当那日来到,和平与公义将遍满全地(参赛9:7)。 在那一天,人类暴力将停止。在上帝的统治下,人们“要将刀打成犁头,把枪打成镰刀。这国不举刀攻击那国,他们也不再学习战事。”(赛2:4)



然而,我们可以确信,与我们同在的上帝也在我们心里运行来成就祂的美意。让我们紧紧抓住罗8:28的应许:“我们晓得万事都互相效力,叫爱神的人得益处,就是按他旨意被召的人。” 如果我们把这异象放在心中,它将激励我们以智慧,坚韧地生活。