Reflections on Psalm 46
Final thoughtsApril 14, 2020 - J. Scott Duvall
Editorial Note: It’s the middle of March 2020, and the coronavirus is beginning to hit the U.S. in a big way. We’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that our hope doesn’t depend on this world, especially when trials ambush us. But we need to be reminded and comforted. We need to hear from the Lord. In such times we often turn to the book of Psalms. Our pastor preached on Psalm 46 when this crisis was beginning and encouraged us to memorize it. I learn best by reading and writing. I hope my reflections will encourage you and those you love. Grace and peace.
We will have times of trouble; of that we can be sure. We live in a broken, sinful world. We’re in the middle of a tough trial now with this coronavirus pandemic. But God has not left us alone. He is speaking to us profoundly in Psalm 46:1-11. He is reminding us of what is real and true:
- We will have trials (1, 2-3)
- God is our powerful refuge and strength, our stronghold (1, 7, 11)
- God is our helper (1, 5)
- God is with us (4-5, 7, 11)
- We will not be afraid (2)
- We stand empty in ourselves but strong in the Lord (5, 10)
- We know God is God (8-10)
Psalm 46 (CSB)
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
3 though its water roars and foams
and the mountains quake with its turmoil.
4 There is a river—
its streams delight the city of God,
the holy dwelling place of the Most High.
5 God is within her; she will not be toppled.
God will help her when the morning dawns.
6 Nations rage, kingdoms topple;
the earth melts when he lifts his voice.
7 The LORD of Armies is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
8 Come, see the works of the LORD,
who brings devastation on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease throughout the earth.
He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces;
he sets wagons ablaze.
10 “Stop your fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.”
11 The LORD of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
You’ll also notice that in most Bibles, the word “selah” occurs a couple of times in this Psalm. This is a Hebrew musical term that appears about 70 times in the Psalms. We’re not entirely sure what it means, though it seems to be some kind of musical or liturgical sign, perhaps calling for a pause.
Speaking of pauses, for all the evils that this virus brings, it does offer us a chance to slow down, think about what’s really important in life and build some healthy habits of walking with God and loving our family and friends. May the Lord use this down time in your life to draw you closer to him! Don’t fritter it away. Invest this unexpected time wisely. Give God time and space to work deeply in your heart.
It does seem that this Psalm was meant to be sung and it has been sung more recently. I leave you with Psalm 46 by two of my favorite musicians, Shane & Shane.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
By Dr. J. Scott Duvall, J.C. and Mae Fuller Professor of Biblical Studies. Read more from Dr. Duvall's Psalm 46 series.
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