Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 46

Verses 1-3

1. God"s defense of His people46:1-3

God"s people find safety and courage when they trust in Him. He is a shelter from danger and a source of strength for them. Consequently they need not fear even though they face many calamities. Martin Luther felt inspired to write the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" because of this psalm. The figure of the mountains sliding into the sea pictures a terrible disaster, as do those of the storm-tossed sea and the earthquake. "Utter Confusion, Unutterable Peace," is what one author titled his exposition of this psalm. [Note: Armerding, p86.]

Verses 1-11

Psalm 46

The psalmist magnified the Lord as His people"s secure defense. Some writers believed that King Hezekiah wrote this psalm after Yahweh"s deliverance from Sennacherib. [Note: E.g, ibid.] Wiersbe also believed Hezekiah may have written Psalm 47, 48. [Note: Ibid.] Just as Zion was secure because God dwelt there, so His people were safe because He resided among them.

"To Alamoth" in the title probably means female voices were to sing this psalm since the Hebrew word alamot means "maidens."

Verse 4-5

God"s presence in Jerusalem was similar to that of a refreshing, life-giving river rather than the raging sea ( Psalm 46:3; cf. Isaiah 8:6; Isaiah 33:21). Old Jerusalem, of course, had no literal river flowing through it (cf. Revelation 22:1-2). Because God abode in the city, it enjoyed great security. As time passed, however, God left the city because His people forsook Him ( Ezekiel 8; Ezekiel 10).

"The imagery of the river and the streams is reminiscent of the description of the river with its four branches in the passage on the Garden of Eden ( Genesis 2:10-14). The restoration to the presence of God is likened to a restoration to the Garden of Eden of all those who are members of the City of God." [Note: VanGemeren, p352. See also his appendix on Zion theology, pp354-57.]

Verses 4-7

2. God"s presence in Zion46:4-7

Verse 6-7

When nations lifted themselves up in opposition to God and Israel, the Lord overthrew them (cf. Psalm 2:1-2). His mighty word even caused the earth to melt, a figurative description of the awesome power of God (cf. Genesis 1). Therefore the God who preserved Jacob would also protect the Israelites. He controls the unseen armies of heaven. He is a Person to whom His people can flee for refuge when enemies attack.

Verse 8-9

The psalmist invited the people to come with him and view with their mind"s eye the Lord"s deliverances of His people. His army had destroyed Israel"s enemies many times.

Verses 8-11

3. God"s exaltation in the earth46:8-11

This psalm of confidence now transforms into an eschatological psalm with the following prophetic oracle.

Verse 10-11

The writer presented God Himself calling His people to rest their confidence in Him. Then he concluded by repeating his own expression of trust ( Psalm 46:7).

The Lord"s presence indwelling His own people should inspire trust and confidence. No external calamity or hostile adversary can overthrow the place where the Lord of Armies resides. Today the Lord does not reside in a tabernacle building but in His people. [Note: See Swindoll, pp130-40.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 46". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.