This song did not initially click with me. It didn’t speak to me in any positive way, and I really didn’t feel empowered when we would sing it in church. On the contrary, I would hear this song and feel a little guilty. I wrestled with it, because I thought, “I can’t sing that. I get shaken all of the time.” Because when things get bad – and sometimes they do get bad and even really bad – I feel emotionally shaken up. I thought that my emotions betrayed me as a person of faith. I mean, if I really had faith, wouldn’t I be able to handle everything in stride? The answer is yes and no. The true answer is yes, but the problem is that the question I asked myself was from an American understanding, not a Biblical understanding.
The American understanding is to conflate shaken with shaken up. That’s how I heard it as it was sang, and I even sang it while praying quietly that I would get better at this. But now I understand that being shaken is not the same as being shaken up, and I learned it right on time and right out of the Bible. There is no shame or lack of faith in having emotions. Jesus even had them. He wept at Lazarus’ dying, even knowing He would raise him from the dead. He was pretty emotionally shaken up when He prayed in the garden. He was distressed. But He wasn’t shaken. Again, there is a difference, and it can be seen in the passage that I assume this song was borne out of.
If it wasn’t this passage, it was one of the several others that communicate the same message, or maybe all of them at once. I can’t say. What I can say that reading these two verses and stopping without reading the rest of the Psalm will do you a disservice. It will give you a wrong understanding. It may make you think that if someone puts all their hope in God alone, he will never be shaken up, but that wouldn’t be consistent with the words of the author. For in verse three, he compares himself to a broken down wall or a disheveled fence, and in verse seven, he refers to God as a refuge, which he was in need of. He was emotional shaky, as I have been, and I assume you have been, yet he says again in verse six that he will not be shaken.
To be shaken means to be moved or greatly moved, to be dislodged, dropped, and overcome. If a person is rooted in God, in His Word, then no matter what comes his way, he will know that he cannot be moved. I may feel like a broken down wall, but I will not fall away or drop. I may feel like a disheveled fence, swaying back and forth, but I will not be dislodged. The storms of life may beat on me, but they will not wash me away. Things will happen in my life that leave me emotionally shaken up, in tears, unsure of where to go next, but because my hope, my salvation, and my faith is in God alone, I will not be shaken. My faith will not be altered. My joy will not be stolen. Because these, along with my salvation, is in Christ alone. And as I wait, sometimes for a while, and sometimes in silence, for Him to intercede on my behalf, my faith will assure me that He will indeed intercede. He is my rock. He is my refuge. He is my source of life.