We all remember where we were and what we were doing the day Kennedy was shot, Diana died, and …9-11.
Ten years on, Al-Qaeda is no longer the force to be reckoned with that it once was, although the ideologies and motivations that spawned the malevolence continue to be taught in Waziristani madrassas and elsewhere. Yet, its wayward sons, whose indiscipline in Cairo the other night came close to catastrophe – the guards in the Israeli Embassy had been instructed to open fire if their lives were under threat – was averted at the last moment, with the symbolic loss of a flag.
Psalm 46 comes to mind.
At Ground Zero today, President Obama also read from Psalm 46, which seemed to be something of a curious choice since it not only emphasises the trustworthiness of God in face of adversity but also His retributive power..
Matthew Henry comments:
This psalm…encourages (us) to hope and trust in God; in his power and providence, and his gracious presence with his church in the worst of times. We may apply it to spiritual enemies, and the encouragement we have that, through Christ, we shall be conquerors over them.
Perhaps the speechwriters were sending a message.
Jonathan Aitken (convicted of perjury, incidentally, former Cabinet Minister and president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide) comments under the title ‘God in Catastrophe’ quoting John Stott.
‘The name of Martin Luther will always be associated with this psalm. His famous hymn “Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott” is a free paraphrase of it. He and his collaborator, Philipp Melanchthon would sing it together in times of dark discouragement. Thomas Carlyle has made it familiar to English readers by his translation “A Safe Stronghold our God is still”. It is a sublime expression of quiet confidence in God’s sovereignty amid the upheavals of nature and history.’
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling, there’s a river whose streams shall make glad the City of God, the holy place of the Tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved. God shall help her just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved. He uttered his voice. The earth melted.
The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Come behold the works of the Lord who has made desolations in the Earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the Earth.
He breaks the bough and cuts the spear in two.
He burns the chariot in fire.
Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the Earth.
The Lord of Hosts is with us.
The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
Ten years ago, Ariel Sharon declared a national day of mourning. Today, Shimon Peres phoned Obama, telling him: