The confidence which the church hath in God. An exhortation to behold it.
To the chief musician, for the sons of Korah: A Song upon Alamoth.
Title. שׁיר עלמות על קרח לבני למנצח lamnatseach libnei korach al alamoth shiir.] This Psalm is thought to have been composed by David upon his conquest over the Philistines and Moabites, 2 Samuel 8:1-2. The style is lofty, and seems every way worthy of that Royal Author. With great force of expression he compares the powerful fury and terror of his enemies to that of an earthquake, or to the threatening horrors of a tempestuous sea.
The word עלמות Alamoth is translated by some the virgins, and by others things secret: and, accordingly, it is on one hand supposed either to refer to some tune then in common use, or some musical instrument unknown to us, which was peculiarly adapted to the virgins who sung in the choir; 1 Chronicles 15:20.; and, on the other hand, it is thought to refer to the secret and hidden mysteries of the Gospel. See Fenwick on the title of the 9th Psalm. The Chaldee title runs thus: "A hymn of praise for the sons of Korah, in the spirit of prophesy, when their father was hidden from them; nevertheless, they were delivered, and sung this hymn." The Syriac adds, "Taken in its prophetical sense, it alludes to the preaching of the apostles."
Psalms 46:3. Though the waters thereof roar— We have before observed, that it is familiar with David to consider a vast host of the enemy under the idea of a flood of waters; a noble instance of which we have in this verse: and I should only beg leave to add David's own comment upon it, as one of the finest instances of the sublime which the imagination can conceive, Psalms 46:6. The heathen raged;—the kingdoms were moved; he uttered his voice:—the earth melted. Delaney, Life of David, b. 3: chap. 3.
Psalms 46:4. There is a river, the streams whereof, &c.— Or, as some render it, The river by its streams, &c. But the version of the Liturgy is nearer the Hebrew: The rivers of the flood thereof shall make glad the city of our God; the holy place, &c. i.e. "The rivers, which sweep all other fenced cities before them, shall be so far from hurting us, that they shall make glad the city of our God; they shall be the occasion of great joy to us upon our victory over our enemies, &c." The Psalmist appears to have been warmed with a grateful sense of their late deliverance, so that his imagination rises from one thing to another. His trust in God was so steady, that he exhorts his subjects not to fear, though all other nations should be in confusion; though their enemies, like the sea, should rage and swell, and threaten them most violently; nay, though they should destroy all other fortified places at pleasure: for, though the rivers of that flood of ungodly men should set all their forces against Jerusalem, they should be so far from succeeding, that he assures them, the effect of that attempt should only be to furnish matter of joy and triumph for them. The LXX seem to have taken it in this sense, who translate it, the forces, or vehemence of the river; and the Ethiopic version, the river which runs rapidly. Bishop Patrick understands it differently, and paraphrases it thus: "Our hearts shall be quiet and still, like the river which runs through our city:" And Piscator, Hammond, and others, speak much to the same purpose; who mention the brook Gihon, which waters Jerusalem, and the streams of Siloa, which flow softly.
Psalms 46:5. And that right early— At the appearing of the morning. Houbigant, &c. As soon as the morning shews its face, i.e. "God will come very early to her succour, before any enemy is awakened to annoy her."
Psalms 46:9. He maketh wars to cease, &c.— He hath destroyed the artillery of war, to the end of the earth, or the land. Comp. Psalms 76:3. He destroyed the whole apparatus and furniture of war, so that there was none left in all the country. Dr. Delaney is of opinion, that this Psalm was written in consequence of David's victory over Hadadezer, and that it may be clearly inferred from this verse, He breaketh the bow, &c. See 2 Samuel 8:4.
Psalms 46:10. Be still, and know, &c.— The Psalmist here represents God as speaking with a majesty becoming him; immediately after which, he congratulates his subjects upon their having this great God for their deliverer. His imagination was so rapid, that it would not suffer him to connect his expressions, but he, as it were, felicitates himself and his people, and breaks forth into the triumphal expression, The Lord of hosts is with us, &c. leaving them to infer, and make the proper use of the expression.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Amid the furious attacks of enraged foes, the name of our God is a strong tower, into which the righteous runneth and is safe. We have here David professing his own and the church's confidence in God, amid the most threatening appearances, and giving his reasons for such his hope.
1. They are safe amid all the tumults of this disordered world. God is our refuge, who shall pluck us thence? our strength, who shall be able to stand before us thus supported? a very present help in trouble, to extricate from every difficulty, and very near to succour and save us. Therefore will not we fear; there is no shadow of ground for it, seeing that he who is for us is most High, so infinitely surpassing in power all who are against us: And in the midst of her, his church, taking up his residence, and manifesting his presence in the believer's heart. In vain, therefore, the earth trembles and is dissolved, the mountains leap from their bases, the stormy billows roar and lash the rocky shores; in vain are all the attacks; in vain the threatenings of earth or hell; the church, and every faithful soul, is founded on a rock; not only safe from ruin, but secure from every terrifying fear; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and make her adversaries lick the dust, and that right early; quickly, or when the morning appears; the night of trouble shall be short, and the welcome morning of deliverance and joy arise. Note; (1.) When danger is most alarming, faith should be most in exercise. (2.) The changes and revolutions of this sublunary globe, can little affect those whose souls are fixed on things above. (3.) They need not fear, and shall not fall, who make God their refuge and strength.
2. They are comforted as well as secure. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God: a river of never-ceasing consolations, whose streams no foe can interrupt; there, like the waters of Siloa, sweetly flow into the faithful soul in the midst of every trial, and fill him with joy as well as peace in believing; he is the city where God delights to dwell, and the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High, being made the habitation of God through the Spirit. Note; If we enjoy divine communications of grace and comfort, we are amply repaid for all the storms and tempests raised by a world which lieth in wickedness.
2nd, Who can stand when God appeareth?
1. His foes are routed and destroyed. The heathen raged against his church and people; of old, Rome pagan, and, of later days, Rome papal, and all the antichristian enemies of his children; and the kingdoms were moved, stirred up to war against the saints of the most High: but he uttered his voice, and at the breath of his lips the earth melted; all these collected forces dissolved as the snow before the sun. Thus, under the wings of Jacob's God, the God of hosts, we are not only protected, but by his power triumphant. Come, behold the works of the Lord, with wonder see his glorious interposition, what desolations he hath made in the earth upon all his furious adversaries: the desolations of Judaea, the downfal of the Roman monarchy, mark his avenging rod: and from these we may be assured the present powers of Antichrist, whether popish or mahomedan, shall alike, with their carcases, strew the ground; nor will he cease till all his enemies are made his footstool; when, their power utterly broken, and all their armour, wherein they trusted, spoiled, and consumed, the war shall cease, and his people enjoy for ever the fruits of that glorious and eternal peace which he hath obtained for them. For,
2. They are bid only to be still, to wait upon the Lord, without distraction, and know that I am God; believe my power and love, and ye shall assuredly see my great salvation; and that displayed not more for their comfort and safety, than for his own glory: I will be exalted among the heathen, who oppose his kingdom and interests, by their destruction; I will be exalted in the earth, by subduing the nations of the world to the obedience of the faith, and setting up the throne of the Redeemer from pole to pole. Such promises may therefore well silence all our fears, and confirm our confidence. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 46". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Easter