Crashing the Ships

“With the wind from the east you smashed to splinters the trading vessels of Tarshish.”

(Psalm 48:8 {verse 7 in English})

It is tempting to see this verse as a reference to 1 Kings 22:48, where the ships of Tarshish that King Jehoshaphat had working with him. Remember how King Solomon had built a navy with the help of Hiram, King of Tyre, and then later the navy project was scrapped as a result of a storm which wrecked all of the ships. Yet King Jehoshaphat reigned from about 840-860 BC, long after the Sons of Korah would have been writing.

Thus, if dated late, this psalm could be speaking of this specific event, but I think that the Psalmist has something even greater in mind. In context the language of this psalms is speaking of the greatness of God and of his might against those who stand against him or who stand against his people. Even before the Temple was built, the ships of Tarshish, connected with the naval people of Tyre, were recognized as a major naval power (hence the fact that Solomon worked with Hiram to build the navy). If we understand the verse in this manner, then what it is communicating is that God is the one who is capable of destroying even the major powers of the world — even Tarshish and their mighty navy that sails the dark, chaotic seas. Not only do the armies of the enemy tremble when facing the Almighty God, but so do the navies.

God is the mighty one, the glory of his people. And we stand before Him in awe and grace and thanksgiving that he has drawn us to himself and has protected us from the armies of the world. Indeed, there will come a time of eternal judgment for the wicked but even in the world today, the forces of this world, both natural and national, are at the Lord’s disposal for use, discipline, but also for destruction to show his power. We who know this God often take his presence for granted…all the while we often come into his presence with way too little reverence. Loved ones, may we rejoice in that we come into the care and presence of the mighty God of the universe who will protect us under the shadow of his wings; but let us also do so with the awesome reverence for who he is and for the might he shows and has shown in the world.

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