VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2002 ( God's omnipotence does not overshadow his closeness to us, and that's our only sure consolation in the midst of life's tempests, John Paul II says.

"The Lord is not an indifferent emperor, confined to his distant heaven, but is present in the midst of the people as a Savior who is powerful and great in love," the Pope said in his address to the faithful gathered at the general audience today.

The Holy Father's meditation, centered on Psalm 92(93), was a continuation of the series of meditations on the canticles of the Old Testament.

In the biblical passage, God appears as a king of irresistible power, who imposes himself on the forces of evil and nature, the Holy Father said. Yet, "the sovereign God of all, omnipotent and invincible, is always close to his people, to whom he gives his decrees," John Paul II continued.

In the Psalm, the force of evil is represented by the thunder of the waters. "The crash that the great cataracts produces, on those who hear its deafening sound and whose whole body is gripped by shivers, a sensation of tremendous force," the Pope said.

However, the Psalm shows that "the power of the Lord ... is even greater." What before was the reason for overwhelming fear, now turns into unshakable confidence in God.

Psalm 92(93), John Paul II concluded, thus becomes "a prayer that generates trust and hope in the faithful who often feel agitated, fearful of being overwhelmed by the tempests of history and stricken by impending dark forces."