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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 46

 

 

Verse 1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalms 46:1-11.-The Church's security, because God is in her, amidst the world's convulsions: as shown in the sudden overthrow of Sennacherib's invading hosts (cf. Psalms 46:8-10), which hitherto had swept on irresistibly. Two coincidences with history occur: in Psalms 46:4, "the city of God," just as Isaiah 36:1 informs us that all "the defensed cities of Judah" except Jerusalem, the mother city, had fallen before Sennacherib; also in Psalms 46:10, "Know that I am God ... I will be exalted in the earth," is God's reply to Hezekiah's prayer, "O Lord our God, save us ... that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord."

Title. - A song upon Alamoth , [ `


Verse 2

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed - literally, 'in the earth being changed.' Compare Psalms 102:26. The change of the earth means here great revolutions through which its form, as the seat of political kingdoms, is altered (cf. Psalms 46:6). The instrumental cause of this change is the lust of conquest, which impels great states like a raging sea (cf. Psalms 46:6, "the pagan raged"), "with the swelling thereof" - i:e., through their haughty pride-to disturb the existing order. The great first cause is the Lord, who uses the world-powers, like Assyria, as "the (unconscious) rod of His anger" (Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 10:7). It is when Yahweh (Hebrew #3068) "utters His voice the earth melts" (Psalms 46:6; cf. Haggai 2:21-22). The Assyrian had just before "removed the bounds of the people, and robbed their treasures, and put down the inhabitants like a valiant man, and as one gathereth eggs ... gathered all the earth" (Isaiah 10:13-14).

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea - literally, 'into the heart of the sea.' The language must he understood figuratively. Hengstenberg translates, 'and though the mountains SHAKE IN the heart of the sea.' The antithesis (Psalms 46:5) favours this. 'The mountains shake in the heart of the sea' (explained Psalms 46:6, "the kingdoms were moved"), but "she (the city of God) shall not be moved" (Psalms 46:5). The "mountains" are empires raised on high (Psalms 30:7; Revelation 8:8). This is the very image in the parallel history (Isaiah 37:24), "By thy servants thou hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains (the earth-kingdoms enumerated, Psalms 46:11-11; Isaiah 10:9 ), to the sides of Lebanon, and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof" (namely, of Zion, represented, because of its cedar-constructed palaces, under the image of cedar-abounding Mount Lebanon).


Verse 3

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

(Though) the waters thereof roar, and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. What a beautiful contrast there is between the roaring waters here and the still "river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God!" (Psalms 46:4.) Overwhelming waters represent invading hosts (Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 17:12). The "sea" (Psalms 46:2) is the world, never still, "like a troubled sea when it cannot rest," through selfishness, pride, and ambition (Isaiah 57:20). IN this sea are the mountain-like world-empires (Psalms 46:2). Compare Isaiah 27:1, "the dragon that is in the sea;" Daniel 7:2-3, "the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea, and four great beasts (the four great empires) came up from the sea" (Revelation 17:15). "The swelling" of the sea is the haughty elation of spirit which keeps the world in ceaseless agitation. So "the stout heart" (Hebrew, 'the greatness of the heart') of the King of Assyria, "and the glory of his high looks" is specially marked for punishment (Isaiah 10:12-13; cf. Psalms 89:9).


Verse 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.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God. Jerusalem possessed no literal "river," but had spiritually the river of God's grace. The "waters of Shiloah (the Brook Siloah), that go softly," suggested the image (Isaiah 8:6). The "river" in Paradise parting and becoming "four heads" (Genesis 2:10) is the original ground of the imagery. The "river" is first mentioned as a whole; then follow its particular "streams," representing God's manifold ways of grace to His Church. Compare Psalms 36:8; Ezekiel 47:1; Zechariah 14:8; John 4:14; Revelation 22:1. "The city of God" is represented by Jerusalem, which had been threatened by the pagan world-power under Sennacherib.

The holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. The city is here described as "the holy place" where are "the tabernacles of the Most, High," the temple (Psalms 65:4), the symbol of "the high and holy place" where God dwells above (Isaiah 57:15). 'Happy those who have passed out of the territory of the sea into that of the river' (Hengstenberg).


Verse 5

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

God is in the midst of her - (Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 23:14.) But this is especially true of the New Testament Church, which is the "habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22; 2 Corinthians 6:16). And it shall he fully realized at Israel's restoration, when Zion is told to shout for joy, "for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee" (Isaiah 12:6).

She shall not be moved - "though the earth be removed" (Psalms 46:2).

God shall help her, and that right early - Hebrew, 'at the appearing or turning of the morning,' from a Hebrew root to turn one's self for the purpose of coming (Hengstenberg). So Exodus 14:24-27; Psalms 30:5 is exactly parallel - "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalms 49:14). Affliction may pass a night with the Lord's people; but with the morning dawn Yahweh (Hebrew #3068) dislodges it from its resting-place, and gives in its stead abiding salvation. On the previous night the cause of the city of God seemed desperate, and that of the Assyrian invader all but triumphant; but "when they (the Jews) arose early in the morning, behold, they (the Assyrians) were all dead corpses" (Isaiah 37:36); because the angel of the Lord had smitten in the camp of the Assyrians, "an hundred and four score and five thousand" (Isaiah 17:14).


Verse 6

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved - (Isaiah 17:12.) Hengstenberg, instead of "raged," translates 'roar;' to which, in striking contrast, follows --

He uttered his voice, the earth melted - at His voice the earthly kingdoms are "dissolved" with fear, or "melt" by His judgments, as contrasted with their previous roaring (Psalms 75:3; Amos 9:5). The raging of the pagan nations is ordained by Yahweh (Hebrew #3068); He is the first cause of the shaking of thee kingdoms by world-conquerors. 'Though the Lord should let the people roar, His people must not tremble, as it stands unalterably fast that He can help them' (Hengstenberg). (Haggai 2:21-22.) On His voice, cf. Psalms 68:33.


Verse 7

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. So Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:10. The Church's security against the blustering pagan world, when it threatens her, is the truth which dooms the former to destruction-namely, Yahweh is "Immanuel, God with us." Though the name of God most prevalent in the psalms of the sons of Korah is 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430), yet here YAHWEH (Hebrew #3068) ("THE LORD") is appropriately used, as the works of God specified are those performed in behalf of Israel, to whom God's covenant relation is marked by 'Yahweh.' The name, the title "Lord of Hosts," reminds us of the infinite resources which He has at command. "God of Jacob" reminds us of His covenant relation to the descendants, literal and spiritual, of Jacob, or Israel, 'the prince with God.' Thus, His love and faithfulness, as well as His power, are engaged for His people against their adversaries.

Our refuge , [ misgaab (Hebrew #4869)] - a different Hebrew term from that in Psalms 46:1 ( mach


Verse 8

Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

Come, behold the works of the Lord - invitation to all, without distinction, to see the proof of the Lord's might in the overthrow of the great world-powers. What desolations he hath made in the earth - what a desolating overthrow He hath done of those who held the world under their tyranny, and especially threatened to destroy the people of God. Compare, in the prophetical anticipation of the downfall of Assyria, "the whole earth is at rest, and is quiet" (Isaiah 14:7).


Verse 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.

He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth. When He has destroyed the ambitious world-powers which caused wars, then peace ensues "unto the end of the earth." Compare Isaiah 14:4-7.

He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire - namely, the bow, the spear, and the chariot of the hostile world-power (Psalms 76:3). The overthrew of Sennacherib and the consequent quiet, is an earnest of the final triumph of the Prince of Peace, and of the previous destruction of all who now disturb the earth (Isaiah 2:4; Hosea 2:18; Zechariah 9:10).


Verse 10

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

Be still, and know that I am God. His miraculous interposition for His people proved that Yahweh (Hebrew #3068) of Israel is 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430) - i:e., God. The transition is most impressive, the covenant people the speaking triumphantly of God among themselves (Psalms 46:1-7), then calling on the pagan to behold His works (Psalms 46:8-9), and now God Himself commanding the pagan troublers of His people, "He still," - i:e., Desist from your mad attempt to fight against Omnipotence arrayed on the side of God's people. This word He shall at last speak, not merely as a counsel, but as a command, carrying with it the effect, the ungodly being forever rendered incapable of disturbing the kingdom of God.

I will be exalted among the pagan. Yahweh's words here correspond to Hezekiah's prayer (Isaiah 37:20). Compare introduction. The result in Hezekiah's time accordingly was (2 Chronicles 32:23) "Many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah; so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth." An earnest of the more world-wide result of God's visible interposition for His people in the last days.


Verse 11

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

The Lord of hosts is with us ... - repeated from the close of the second strophe (Psalms 46:7), and virtually equivalent to Psalms 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength." So that the Psalm closes as it began.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 46:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-46.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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