Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a powerful declaration of the absolute security of those who live in God’s purpose. The promise of this psalm is that those who entrust themselves to God and his purpose will never be thwarted. They may experience hardship but nothing will be able to impede what God had planned to do in and through them.
The imagery of the earth collapsing into the sea portrays the collapse of creation back into the ‘watery nothingness’ of Genesis 1:2. The sea, in the ancient mind, was associated with chaos and death. So the psalmist is imaging the very worst here in verse 1 and 2 and declaring that even this could not disturb the security of the child of God. The imagery of the river flowing in the city of God alludes to the spring of Gihon (and Hezekiah’s tunnel bringing water into the Pool of Siloam) that was the saving grace of Jerusalem in times of military siege. But the psalmist is using this as a metaphor for the river of goodness and grace that flows from the throne of God. We are reminded of the river that is spoken of in Revelation 22:1-2 (Note also the theme of the river in Isaiah 33:21, Ezekiel 47:1–12 and cf. with Gen 2:10–14). Whatever threat may come upon us from without we have a secure source of joy and peace from within. Water is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the Bible and we are reminded here of the “spring of living water” that Jesus promised would be opened up in our hearts (John 4:14). There may be troubles all about you but if you have the Holy Spirit within you then you will never thirst for fullness of life.
The main theme of this psalm is express in the repeated refrain: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Many scholars place this psalm in the time when Sennacherib’s army lay siege to Jerusalem. This is a remarkable story and worth reading to fully appreciate this psalm (2 Kings 19:35–36). If this is the context, and that seems very likely, then it gives special significance to the words of verse 8: “Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.” Whenever great events like this happened there were always songs written to commemorate such occasions and Psalm 46 was probably the song that was written to celebrate the remarkable victory of God over the Assyrian army.
The call of the psalm 46 to the nations is that they should cease their warring. People struggle with each other for this and that, nation against nation and person against person. We live in a dog-eat-dog world of opportunism and conflict. But it is all in vain. Nothing is gained from it. So the call of this psalm is to cease! This is what those famous words, “Be still and know that I am God” mean: The psalmist calls us to stop our futile struggle; to stop our warring and competing with each other. It is all just an expression of our futile endeavor to be autonomous and to make a life for ourselves. This psalm points to the single most important reality in the universe: There is a God and he has an absolute claim on our lives. He is calling us to return to him and to live in peace. And how we need this peace. Life can be such a struggle and inwardly we can live in constant turmoil as we try to get ahead. But if we will stop and know that God is God then we will also know that he has a purpose for our lives and when we entrust ourselves to him and walk in that purpose we will be absolutely secure.

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