Psalms 46:0 ¶ To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.
Another of the psalms for which the author remains unidentified. The Hebrew for “Alamoth” indicates that it designates the use of soprano voices. Many commentators note that this psalm was the inspiration behind Luther’s famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
Psalms 46:1 ¶ God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
The Hebrew for “refuge and strength” make reference to shelter and safety. Webster defines “shelter” as “that which covers or defends from injury or annoyance; a protection….”; “safety” is defined as “giving confidence, justifying trust, insuring against harm or loss, etc.” What an apt description of how God takes care of His own. We can be confident that our faith in Him is justified. He is ever-present to help us in time of trouble, anguish, distress or affliction (all from the Hebrew).
It should be noted that the LORD never promises that His people will not experience trouble or distress. In fact, scripture is clear in declaring that we will suffer in this world; but we will never suffer as His child without His provision to help us endure and with the knowledge that He will use it for good.
John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Psalms 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
2 Corinthians 1:3–4 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Psalms 46:2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Psalms 46:3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
“Therefore” – Because God is our refuge and strength and ever-present help.
Even though we may experience overwhelming natural disasters, we have no reason to fear. We can be confident that God will take care of us according to His will and His promise.
The psalm begins to take on a prophetic tone since this is a description of how things will be on earth preceding the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom.
Luke 21:25–26 “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”
Revelation 6:12–14 “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”
“Selah” = stop for a moment and “exalt” or praise the LORD.
I liked Chuck Smith’s personal application of these verses: “You know if God is your refuge and your strength, you don’t need to fear. People can you know come around with all kinds of doomsday notions and prophecies, but it doesn’t stir me. It doesn’t worry me. Now, I wouldn’t blame God if He did shake California off into the Pacific, at least Hollywood and San Francisco. And I think He would be justified in doing so. But my trust is in God, always. Now, I don’t care where you go, you can’t really escape. You can’t really run from danger. Face it, living is dangerous. No matter where you are you are surrounded with danger, and you can’t really hide from danger. What you can have is the security of God, no matter what calamity or catastrophe may befall. Your life can be hid in Christ, in God, and thus secure. And if an earthquake comes and this whole place is leveled and I end up under the rubble of it all, the only thing that is going to end up under the rubble is this dumb old body. Me, I’ll be soaring. So, because God is my refuge and strength, I cannot fear.”
Psalms 46:4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
Psalms 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
It seems that the psalmist is looking forward to the Messiah’s kingdom as he pens the rest of this psalm. I think the river being referenced here is the river in the New Jerusalem that John referenced in Revelation; these passages seem to mirror each other.
Revelation 22:1–3 “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:”
I think the better choice from the Hebrew for “help” would be protect or support. The fact that God dwells in the midst of the city guarantees her security.
In the same way, the fact that God dwells in the believer in the person of the Holy Spirit guarantees our eternal security.
Ephesians 1:12–14 “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
Psalms 46:6 ¶ The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
Before Messiah, the promised Son of David, establishes His kingdom, the heathen will rage and kingdoms will fall in response to God’s declared judgments.
Jeremiah 51:19–20 “The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things: and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his name. Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms….”
Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.”
Revelation 19:19-21 “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”
Psalms 46:7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
The psalmist is confident that the LORD, the self-existent eternal God, the God of Israel, is with them as their defender and protector. All the hosts of heaven are at His command.
This also has prophetic application. During the tribulation, the last seven years before Jesus establishes His Kingdom, the 70th week of Daniel, God will provide a special place of protection for the Jewish people.
Revelation 12:6 “And the woman [Israel] fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.”
Note: See journal on Daniel 9 for more detail on 70 weeks prophecy and the journal on Revelation for further details on that chapter.
Psalms 46:8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
Psalms 46:9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
When Messiah, the promised final king descended from David, establishes His kingdom, he will return to a planet devastated by the judgments executed in His wrath and vengeance as prophesied in scripture. He will establish His kingdom in peace; war will no longer be allowed because He will rule with righteousness and weapons of war will be destroyed.
Isaiah 13:9 “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.”
Isaiah 13:13 “Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.”
Nahum 1:2 “God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”
Isaiah 9:6–7 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”
Isaiah 2:2–4 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The psalmist basically urges us to take time to ponder about who God is—Creator, LORD, Almighty, all knowing, all seeing, etc. When Jesus establishes His kingdom, He will finally be exalted by all the nations on earth.
Isaiah 2:11 “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.”
Isaiah 12:4 “And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.”
Micah 4:1–2 “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Psalms 46:11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
The psalmist closes by once again affirming that the LORD, the self-existent eternal God, the God of Israel, is “our” (in context, Israel, His covenant people; in application, all those who have placed their faith in Him) refuge, our source of defense and protection.