Though They Rage…God is Our Refuge

Recently, I have been meditating upon and journaling in the Psalms. In particular, I have focused on two Psalms: numbers 44 and 46. Both were written by the Sons of Korah, likely descendents of the Korah of Numbers 16.

The fact that these descendents wrote hymns of praise for the Jews and Christians is a testament to God’s redemptive work. It is their “father” (generations before) that rose up against Moses and Aaron, and likewise against Yahweh, and was judged for his rebellion. Yet, these children of Korah have provided a valuable part of our worship of the Lord through their penning of several Psalms.

Placing these two Psalms in juxtaposition have been helpful to my own meditation in God’s word as I consider abusive leadership in the home and workplace. Psalm 44 is clasified is a cry for mercy and Psalm 46 a Psalm of praise. It is almost as if the Sons of Korah wrote Psalm 44 in depression and, when God brought them out, followed up in the writing of Psalm 46.

I have seen many sufferers of toxic leadership sink into depression and rise from those ashes as they came out of the bondage of that abuse.

Psalm 44 begins with reminders of God’s faithful care of His people. He had driven out the nations. He had ordained salvation for His people. He had put to shame those who hated His people.

But, alas, the psalmists explain, the Lord has now seemingly rejected them.

But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.

Psalm 44:9-13 (ESV)

Yahweh hasn’t been with them. God’s children have not won the war. They are like a meak and weak lamb that is taken away and slaughtered. They have been exiled to lands not their own. The people are sold for a pittance…they are seemingly worth nothing to the Lord. They are ridiculed and scorned by arrogant abusers that surround them.

Don’t you feel like that sometimes? Why, oh Lord, are you not acting on my behalf? If you love me so tenderly, then why am I in such straits? Why did you lead me into a mission work where I am abused by my leadership? Why did you give me such a horrendous marriage?

The hurt and sorrow can be so overwhelming that we want to “curse God and die” as Job’s wife counseled him to do in the midst of his great agony.

Job 2:9

There is no resolution to this lament in Psalm 44. It ends with a cry for mercy from the Lord. Save us, oh Lord! Redeem us – buy us back from our suffering.

Songs like Psalm 44 are sweet parts of our Bible. They are truthful, down-to-earth, emotional expressions of God’s children. We can sing them and be right there with the authors. We can commune with our fellow travelers on our spiritual journeys in a broken world full of sinful, arrogant, and hurtful people.

Psalm 46 is the answer. It is the glory from the ashes. It is the emotional healing of the Psalmist.

There the Sons of Korah proclaim,

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Psalms 46:1-3 (ESV)

Though all this suffering has been my lot, God is my refuge. He is my help. Though trouble is all around me. Though my enemies, in the form of bosses, managers, husbands, or even former friends, circle around, creating havoc in my life and deep, lasting pain, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

It is interesting that those who have chosen to work specifically in the area of abuse healing (having been targets of abuse) often step into more of these traumatic experiences as they do battle with those who do not understand the dynamics or Biblical response to abuse. A skin thickened by developing Biblical barriers to these attacks is imperative.

Wading into the depths of these Psalms can be both the healing balm and helpful aid to building boundaries that protect our integrity from those who war against a Biblical understanding of abuse.

God is our refuge! We need not fear even if everything goes to pot. Though our lives crumble around us as the waves crash against our weak human defenses, the Lord is our very present help when in those troubled times. He is very present, not just on duty now and then. He is continually giving refuge to the oppressed and strength to the wounded.

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