OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH
Lord, how comforting it is to know that You are there.
Read PSALM 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
a Psalm 46:1 In Hebrew texts 46:1-11 is numbered 46:2-12.
b Psalm 46:1 Title: Probably a musical term
c Psalm 46:3 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here and at the end of verses 7 and 11.
d Psalm 46:9 Or chariots
New International Version (NIV)
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“A mighty Fortress is our God, / a Bulwark never failing;
/ our Helper he amid the flood / of mortal ills prevailing” (Martin Luther, 1483–1546).
This psalm is a much-loved hymn of praise, celebrating God’s deliverance. It might have been written when the Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem during Hezekiah’s reign (2 Kings 18:13—19:37). It inspired Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and was almost certainly a liturgical psalm sung during temple worship.
This psalm has a deep relevance today, particularly as people suffer from the fear of mountains or cities suddenly crumbling into the sea owing to an earthquake, tsunami or nuclear blast (cf. 2,3). It is easy to live in terror when we see such tragedies on television, but the psalmist says that even if the world were to end, we need not fear. In the face of devastation, the writer expresses a quiet conﬁdence in God’s saving ability. The Bible is clear—God is our refuge and strength, even in the face of destruction. He is not merely a temporary shelter, but an eternal sanctuary who can provide strength, no matter how traumatic the situation.
The psalm ends with a sublime call to quiet and peace (10). Sadly, war and destruction are all too common, and tragedy is unavoidable. Yet, God’s ultimate victory is also certain and, when it ﬁnally arrives, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that he is the Lord (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:9–11). As the next line of verse 10 says, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” How appropriate, then, that we learn to be still now in this life, to acknowledge his power and Sovereignty today. Surely a healthy dose of daily quiet can make all the difference in a world full of noise, irritation and fear.
If tragedy or grief is ﬁlling your life, allow this psalm to soothe your soul. Be quiet before God daily: he alone is God, he alone will be exalted.
Lord, teach me how to be still and to quietly assess the reality of Your presence both in my personal life and in the circumstances surrounding me.