VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2003 ( Only God, who governs history with a "higher plan," can extricate man from "the dark forces" of chaos, says John Paul II.

The Pope made that point today during the reflection he offered 18,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the general audience. He dedicated his address to comment on Psalm 107(108).

"If the Lord reigns, there must be no fear: One is not tossed here and there by the dark forces of fate or chaos," he said.

"At all times, even in the darkest moments, there is a higher plan that governs history," the Holy Father said.

In the biblical passage he commented on, the Holy Father said: "Hope and dread are blended together and become the substance of the new prayer, all designed to sow trust even in the time of trial experienced by the whole community."

"The message is limpid and is centered on divine love and truth," he said. "In virtue of this faithfulness, the people are sure that they will never be abandoned by God in the abyss of nothingness or despair."

"This faith enkindles the flame of hope. In any event, God will indicate a way out," the Pope said. "Only from him can the decisive help come and not from foreign military alliances, namely, from the force of arms. And only with him will liberty be obtained and great things be accomplished."

Finally, the Pontiff offered a Christian interpretation of the Psalm, borrowing an idea from St. Jerome, father of biblical sciences, who said: "No one must despair in this life. You have Christ and you are afraid? He will be our strength, he will be our bread, he will be our guide."

Today's reflection was part of the series of papal reflections on the Psalms and canticles of the Old Testament. They may be found in the "Wednesday's Audience" section of ZENIT's Web page.