Psalm 46 - Be Still and Know that I am God
I wrote this during the riots duing the coronavirus pandemic.
This Psalm is known as Luther's Psalm. He wrote "A Mighty Fortress" based on this Psalm. In times of extreme opposition, Martin Luther would say to his friend, Philip Melancthon: ďCome, Philip, let us sing the 46th Psalm.Ē
Psalm heading - "upon virgins" is unique in a psalm heading. In the psalm headings, the preposition "upon" is used to indicate the tune (i.e. Ps 22) or instrument (i.e. Ps 6) and occasionally to reference an underlying author (i.e. Ps 62). Here it should be the type of innocent girl singers, as it is used in 1Chron 15:20. I think it indicates a tender, innocent, pure tune, and also that this psalm will make His people pure and simple.
Therefore I chose this tune because of the high strains of the chorus.
We need to praise God upon virgin hearts, with souls chaste towards his fear, with lively and exalted expressions, and happy strains. - Spurgeon
Psalm 9 is the only psalm with a similar heading, "virgins for the Son". I think that means that psalm 46 is built upon psalm 9. Psalm 9 is about twice as long as this psalm, and gives details behind Psalm 46. Psalm 46 takes Psalm 9 to a higher level.
This psalm has no requests. It has 2 commands:
1. Come, behold the works of the LORD v8
2. Be still and know that I am God v10
This psalm is written in the 1st person plural, "we" and "us". The only 1st person singular speaking is v10, which is the LORD Himself speaking directly.
v1 - God is first our refuge. Then He becomes our strength. Refuge is defensive only. Strength is both defensive and offensive.
Psalm 9 is about the Lord as our refuge (Ps 9:9-10, 18). Psalm 46 takes it further, that the Lord is our refuge and strength.
In troubles, we need to seek Him to find Him (Heb 11:6). When we find Him in troubles, we realize the troubles were all worth it. (Heb 4:16)
Psalm 9 gives details of seeking the Lord in troubles (Ps 9:13-14). Note that this seeking prayer in Ps 9 follows the request for grace with an argument why the Lord should do it, or what is in it for the Lord.
The Hebrew word that I translated as "surely" is meod, most commonly meaning "very" or "exceedingly" or "to the uttermost". When we seek the Lord in troubles, He greatly exceeds our expectations in how we find Him. (Eph 3:20).
KJV translates the last phrase as "a very present help in trouble", which has been followed by other translations. That translation misses the meaning of the verb "found", which implies our seeking. My translation agrees with YLT.
In times of great trouble and trials, in times of great afflictions and persecutions, private prayer is the Christianís food and drink. It is their chief city of refuge or shelter and hiding place in a stormy day. When the saints have been driven by violent persecutions into holes and caves, dens, deserts and howling wildernesses, private prayer has been their food and drink. Under Christ it has been their only refuge.
When Esau came forth with hostile intentions against Jacob, secret prayer was Jacobís refuge (Gen 32:6-9, 11). He recalls Godís promises, they must be prayed over in private. When Jacob and all that was near and dear to him, were in eminent danger of being cut off by Esau and the men of blood that were with him, he takes himself to private prayer as his only city of refuge against the rage and malice of the mighty.
Private prayer is a city of refuge that no power nor politics, no craft nor cruelty, no violence nor force is ever able to overcome. Though the joint prayers of the people of God together were often obstructed and hindered in the times of the ten persecutions (of the early Church), yet they were never able to obstruct or hinder secret prayer. - Thomas Brooks The Secret Key to Heaven
v2 - lit. and when mountains slide into the heart of the seas.
These huge catastrophes have happened in history and will especially occur before (Rev 6-9) and during (Rev 12-19) the great tribulation at the end of this age.
Mountains can be institutions that we trust are too big to fail.
The Hebrew verb translated "slide" can refer to economic hardship (Lev 25:35).
v3 - There are 3 Selah's in this Psalm (vv3,7,11).
The Selah here tells us to pause in troubles and examine them. - Spurgeon
The violent upheavals of powerful nations are described in the imagery of natural calamities (v6). - Stone Tanach
v4 - The dwelling places of the Most High are all the people of God who dwell in His holy city, which today is the church. (1Co 3:16; etc)
They are also the streams that the Spirit flows through to make the City of God rejoice and holy. (Joh 7:38-39)
The great fear of an Eastern city in time of war was lest the water supply should be cut off during a siege; if that were secured the city could hold out against attacks for an indefinite period. In this verse, Jerusalem, which represents the church of God, is described as well supplied with water, to set forth the fact that in seasons of trial all sufficient grace will be given to enable us to endure unto the end. - Spurgeon
v5 - This is a great promise, that God is in the midst of the churches.
This is the help referred to in v1.
v6 - The nations rage is parallel to the waters rage in v3. It is the same Hebrew word in both.
Kingdoms moving here is parallel to the earth moving in v3. It is the same Hebrew verb in both verses and also in v5 that the city of God will NOT be moved. This is the night in the previous verse.
When God gives His voice, He helps His people and night turns to morning in the previous verse, but it may look like it got worse.
v7 - "dwelling" is literally "fortress". It is high above the earth.
When this glad verse is sung to music worthy of such a jubilate, well may the singers pause and the players wait a while to tune their instruments again; here, therefore, fitly stands that solemn, stately, peaceful note of rest, SELAH. - Spurgeon
v8 - From the high vantage point of the previous verse we see the destructions on earth as the Lord's works.
Whenever we read history, it should be with this verse sounding in our ears. We should read the newspaper in the same spirit. - Spurgeon
v9 - The nations raging in v6 were wars.
The Hebrew text says "wagons", not "chariots"."Wagons" does not make sense here. The Hebrew word is never used for war. LXX says "shields", which is almost the same Hebrew word as "wagons" with an additional small letter yod. This verse is not preserved in DSS.
We won't need to invest so much in to defense anymore.
v10 - This is the lesson to be learned.
God intervenes and speaks directly.
v11 - exact repeat of v7 including the Selah.
-copyright Steve Miller 6/9/2020