Monday Morning Devotional

Week of October 21, 2019

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” --- Psalm 46:1, 7

Anyone who is a fan of football, particularly the NFL, knows that some positions get a lot more attention than others do, namely, quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. Every once in a while, an intimidating linebacker might also get attention. But in 2006, Michael Lewis' book, The Blind Side, which was made into a successful motion picture, argued that the pivotal position on a football team is the offensive left tackle. Since most quarterbacks are right-handed, the left tackle's main role is to prevent his quarterback from being hit from behind, unseen.

For a while, left tackles were the second highest paid players in the NFL. However, according to Adam Kilgore, a writer for the Washington Post, “The blind side is no longer the domain of the NFL’s most lethal pass rushers.” According to 2018 data accumulated by Pro Football Focus, Demarcus Lawrence, Cameron Jordan and J.J. Watt lined up on the right side of the offensive line on more than 92 percent of their rushes. Former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller rushed from the right 79 percent of the time. And Khalil Mack, the highest-paid defender in NFL history, rushed from the quarterback’s front side 73 percent of the time.

“The trend started a handful of years ago and has since magnified. The primary reason teams now line up their best pass rushers opposite the blind side is simple: It’s the next logical step in the evolution. If offenses are putting their best lineman on the left, they want to attack the lesser tackle on the right” (“‘Blind side’ left tackles inspired a movie. In today’s NFL, the right side has the tougher job,” 11/9/18).

Psalm 46 is the Psalm upon which Martin Luther based his most famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v. 1). The Psalmist affirms we serve a God who is right there with us, keeping us secure in our time of trouble. Interestingly, in the NRSV there is a footnote after the phrase "very present” in which the translators have indicated that the verse may also read: "God is our refuge and strength, a well-proved help in trouble." This translation acknowledges we serve a God who repeatedly has stood the test of time – a God upon whom we can rely to keep us secure in our time of trouble.

Old Testament professor Fred Gasier writes, “Our trust, the psalm’s trust, is not based in a naive notion that ‘nothing bad can happen’ - indeed, the psalm assumes the possibility of natural catastrophe and enemy attack - but it invites the singers and hearers to put their trust in God, who alone stands firm when all else shakes” ( 10/27/13). And regardless of one’s preference of translation, Psalm 46 declares that in all times and circumstances, blind side and direct side, God’s powerful and protective presence is worthy of our trust.

Prayer: Lord, knowing that trouble sometimes will hit us head-on and blind-sided, we thank you that you are both very present and well proved.