Comment on this great song of confidence seems almost unnecessary so powerfully has it taken hold on the heart of humanity, and so perfectly does it set forth the experience of trusting souls in all ages and in tumultuous times.
The system of the song is worth noting. It is divided into three parts. The first (verses Psalms 46:1-3) is the challenge of confidence. The second (verses Psalms 46:4-7) tells the secret of confidence. The third (verses Psalms 46:8-11) declares the vindication of confidence.
The challenge announces confidence in God as refuge and strength and very present help, and defies fear even in the midst of the wildest upheavals. In days when tempests shake loose all solid things and the restless waters roar and surge till mountains shake, the soul is confident. The secret of the confidence is the consciousness of the nearness of God. He is a river of gladness in the midst of the city. What matters the tumult around? The vindication of confidence is found in observing God's activity in all surrounding things from this place of safety and strength within the city. The twice repeated refrain (verses Psalms 46:7-11) is full of beauty as it reveals the twofold conception of God, which is the deepest note in the music. He is the King of all hosts. He is the God of the individual. Scholars believe, and with every reason, that the refrain should also occur between verses 3 and 4. This certainly perfects the literary form and adds to the beauty of the psalm.
the Second Week after Epiphany