The full question:

Provide an exegetical paper on Psalm 46.

Hebrew Text

46 1 לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ לִבְנֵי־קֹ֑רַח עַֽל־עֲלָמ֥וֹת שִֽׁיר׃

2 אֱלֹהִ֣ים לָ֭נוּ מַחֲסֶ֣ה וָעֹ֑ז עֶזְרָ֥ה בְ֝צָר֗וֹת נִמְצָ֥א מְאֹֽד׃

3 עַל־כֵּ֣ן לֹא־נִ֭ירָא בְּהָמִ֣יר אָ֑רֶץ וּבְמ֥וֹט הָ֝רִ֗ים בְּלֵ֣ב יַמִּֽים׃

4 יֶהֱמ֣וּ יֶחְמְר֣וּ מֵימָ֑יו יִֽרְעֲשֽׁוּ־הָרִ֖ים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ֣ סֶֽלָה׃

5 נָהָ֗ר פְּלָגָ֗יו יְשַׂמְּח֥וּ עִיר־אֱלֹהִ֑ים קְ֝דֹ֗שׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵ֥י עֶלְיֽוֹן׃

6 אֱלֹהִ֣ים בְּ֭קִרְבָּהּ בַּל־תִּמּ֑וֹט יַעְזְרֶ֥הָ אֱ֝לֹהִ֗ים לִפְנ֥וֹת בֹּֽקֶר׃

7 הָמ֣וּ ג֖וֹיִם מָ֣טוּ מַמְלָכ֑וֹת נָתַ֥ן בְּ֝קוֹלֹ֗ו תָּמ֥וּג אָֽרֶץ׃

8 יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֣וֹת עִמָּ֑נוּ מִשְׂגָּֽב־לָ֝נוּ אֱלֹהֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃

9 לְֽכוּ־חֲ֭זוּ מִפְעֲל֣וֹת יְהוָ֑ה אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֖ם שַׁמּ֣וֹת בָּאָֽרֶץ׃

10 מַשְׁבִּ֥ית מִלְחָמוֹת֮ עַד־קְצֵ֪ה הָ֫אָ֥רֶץ קֶ֣שֶׁת יְ֭שַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּ֣ץ חֲנִ֑ית עֲ֝גָל֗וֹת יִשְׂרֹ֥ף בָּאֵֽשׁ׃

11 הַרְפּ֣וּ וּ֭דְעוּ כִּי־אָנֹכִ֣י אֱלֹהִ֑ים אָר֥וּם בַּ֝גּוֹיִ֗ם אָר֥וּם בָּאָֽרֶץ׃

12 יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֣וֹת עִמָּ֑נוּ מִשְׂגָּֽב־לָ֝נוּ אֱלֹהֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃[1]

Translation

Psalm 46

To the choirmaster, for the sons of Korah, according to Alamath[2], a song.

1 God is to us a refuge and strength[3], a help in (times of)[4] trouble to be found abundantly[5]. 2 Therefore we will not fear though[6] the earth change, and though mountains shake into the heart of the seas. 3 Though[7] its waters roar and[8] foam, though mountains shake with its surging[9]. Selah

4 There is a river, whose streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place[10] of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be shaken. God will help her when the morning dawns. 6 Nations growl, kingdoms shake; he raised his voice[11], the[12] earth melts[13]. 7 The LORD of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah

8 Come, see the works of the LORD[14], who has placed desolations[15] on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth, he breaks a bow and cuts off a spear, chariots[16] he burns with fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in[17] the earth. 11 The LORD of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah

Introduction

There is a ‘present and proleptic’[18] ‘spirit of sturdy confidence’[19] in Psalm forty-six that few other psalms express as strongly. It is Luther’s favourite psalm[20] where he took his starting point for the ‘battle-hymn, Ein’ feste Burg[21]. The faithful are exhorted to rely fearlessly on the LORD.[22] There is reference to creation[23], the Song of the Sea[24] and much more biblical theology. Some consider it to be one of the Songs of Zion, while others believe it to be a song of confidence.[25] There have been many proposals for the context of the Psalm such as during the time of Johoshaphat, Ahaz or Hezekiah.[26] Most scholars appear to concede the most likely option being Hezekiah, as the Psalm reflects some of the expressions Isaiah uses of the Assyrian invasion leading up to chapters thirty-six and thirty-seven.[27] The persistence of scholars to determine the precise context seems unnecessary, as it could just as easily have been written by someone meditating on the LORD who has displayed his power numerous times and will do so again. Even if historical circumstances play a part in the life of the author, ‘the meaning of the psalm soars far beyond the original setting and is easily applicable to any threatening danger that calls for faith in the LORD’.[28] The vast majority of scholars have observed the division of three relatively equal parts (vv. 1-3, 4-7, 8-11) separated by the word ‘Selah’.[29] These three sections are closely bound together with the repetition of key words that interrelate and intensify the entire Psalm.[30] They also assist in clarifying the central idea of the Psalm: God is a refuge upon the earth. A refuge in nature, history and forever. This paper will consider each section, sentence and clause/phrase while considering the overall picture and pastoral purpose of the text.

Superscription

לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ לִבְנֵי־קֹ֑רַח עַֽל־עֲלָמ֥וֹת שִֽׁיר׃

The superscription for this psalm begins ‘to the choirmaster’ (לַמְנַצֵּ֥חַ).[31] The eleven psalms[32] for the sons of Korah (ִבְנֵי־קֹ֑רַח), which make up most of the beginning of Book 2, contain themes of ‘admiration for the monarchy (45)’, the LORD’s rule as King over the nations (45:6; 46:8-10; 47), ‘and the security of Jerusalem, where the great King of the universe has chosen to dwell (Pss 46 and 48)’.[33] They are considered ‘a Levitical group that performed the psalm at times, or used it for prophetic instruction (see 1 Chron. 6:31, 33, 39, 44)’.[34] The most mysterious contention in the superscription is the word ‘alamoth’ (עֲלָמ֥וֹת)[35]. It is generally transliterated because the exact definition is unknown.[36] Suggestions are that it was an instrument of music, the beginning of a well-known song[37] or led by sopranos[38]. The term means ‘according to maidens’ which points to the latter option.[39] This psalm is also designated ‘a song’ (שִֽׁיר) which is a general designation understood simply enough as ‘a composition to be sung’[40].

A Refuge in Nature (Verses 1-3)

The first three verses begin the Psalm’s focus upon God.[41] It employs reverse creation themes which point to ‘world catastrophe’ in order to emphasise that one’s ‘true security is in God, not in God plus anything else’.[42] A radical trust in God ties ‘back to the theme of “refuge” especially characteristic of psalms in Book 1’.[43] Although it was written thousands of years ago, the message rings true just as much today. Humanity’s knowledge of how the natural world works has increased, and so has fear. As Wilcock states, ‘yesterday it was the nuclear winter; today it is global warming; tomorrow it will be some newly discovered threat from our unquiet earth’ but through it all Psalm 46 cries ‘we will not fear’ for ‘God is our refuge’.[44]

The Refuge (Verse 1)

אֱלֹהִ֣ים לָ֭נוּ מַחֲסֶ֣ה וָעֹ֑ז עֶזְרָ֥ה בְ֝צָר֗וֹת נִמְצָ֥א מְאֹֽד׃

This verse states ‘the principle that infuses the entire poem’ and is restated in the refrains (vv. (7, 11).[45] The first clause does not contain a verb ‘putting the emphasis on the nouns’.[46] אֱלֹהִ֣ים (God) begins the sentence in order to emphasise who is our refuge.[47] The Hebrew text points to the Psalm being communal (לָ֭נוּ) ‘for us’ (vv. 7, 11).[48] The Hebrew noun מַחֲסֶ֣ה (refuge) ‘gives the defensive or external aspect of salvation: God the unchanging, in whom we find shelter’.[49] It can be used to indicate shelter from ‘a storm or in war (Isa. 4:6; 25:4)’[50], but it is also often used in the Hebrew Bible figuratively for God.[51] The next noun וָעֹ֑ז (strength) refers to God’s empowerment of the weak in order that they may act.[52] The word help (עֶזְרָ֥ה) is not assistance with something one can already achieve but rather being able to do something for someone who cannot do it themselves. Ross notes how this verse ‘indicates that he so abundantly helps people that he is what help is all about’.[53] The ‘times of trouble’ (בְ֝צָר֗וֹת) refers to the chaos that both the natural world and ‘the world of nations and human affairs’ can often bring and which the psalmist addresses in the following verses.[54] The Niphal participle נִמְצָ֥א with the Hebrew adnominal מְאֹֽד ‘to be found abundantly’ indicates that God’s help is ‘not to be anxiously sought and difficult to reach, but accessible, to the full extent of the need’.[55] This verse alone describes the wonder of God and humanity’s need for such a refuge throughout one’s life.

Despite Catastrophe (Verse 2)

עַל־כֵּ֣ן לֹא־נִ֭ירָא בְּהָמִ֣יר אָ֑רֶץ וּבְמ֥וֹט הָ֝רִ֗ים בְּלֵ֣ב יַמִּֽים׃

In one sense the confession in verse one is easy to say but the resolution, ‘therefore we will not fear’ (עַל־כֵּ֣ן לֹא־נִ֭ירָא) in this verse is more difficult. As Broyles writes, ‘confessing what we should believe is easy; brining our hearts to feel that confessed security is monumental’.[56] It is the natural conclusion of verse one ‘but a statement like this is as much an exhortation as it is an expression of confidence’.[57] The psalmist then casts a picture of ‘the worst-case scenario, the total collapse of earth’s fabric’ as ‘the work of creation is put into reverse’ (Gen. 1:2; Ps. 104:5-9).[58] Quite a number of scholars[59] suggest the psalmist experienced an earthquake to express the imagery within this psalm, while this is entirely possible such a conclusion is not necessary if it is referring to the creation reversal. Other Hebrew poets use ‘language evocative of the shaking earth (Isa. 24:19-20), the trembling mountains (Isa. 54:10), and the disruption of land and sea alike (Hag. 2:6)’.[60] The earth (אָ֑רֶץ) and the mountains (הָ֝רִ֗ים) are ‘immutable and impregnable…over against the symbol of what is most restless and menacing’,[61] the sea (יַמִּֽים)[62]. This is all pointing to ‘a fear that can withstand the collapse of creation is made possible solely by a faith in the Creator’.[63] The next verse continues to describe the chaos that could occur and yet, because of God there is no need to fear.

Despite Creation (Verse 3)

יֶהֱמ֣וּ יֶחְמְר֣וּ מֵימָ֑יו יִֽרְעֲשֽׁוּ־הָרִ֖ים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ֣ סֶֽלָה׃

This verse continues the description of the greatest upheaval of the created order is not enough to fear when God is one’s refuge and strength. The waters (מֵימָ֑יו) are described as roaring and foaming (יֶהֱמ֣וּ יֶחְמְר֣וּ) which is ‘a common metaphor for chaos in the poetry of the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East’.[64] It also describes the waters being ‘worse than the primeval state’.[65] The Flood (Gen. 6-9) is a reflection of this state as creation was turned into turmoil through the rise of the waters. Wilson compares the event and says, ‘similarly here in Psalm 46, human existence would be threatened with dissolution if the roaring, surging seas and waters were able to topple (ֽרְעֲשֽׁוּ) the mountains into the sea so that the earth would “give way”’.[66] The imagery employed here ‘is a metaphor that points to the ultimate nightmare, or, as we might say today, “All hell is breaking loose!”’.[67] There is some debate if these three verses are referring to a cataclysmic natural disaster or ‘political chaos in figurative terms’.[68] Similar word usage in Isaiah may point to war but the most straightforward reading points toward natural disasters. This makes sense as the psalmist appears to provide great examples of chaos to emphasise there is no need to fear. In this section it is the created order falling apart and in the next section it deals with the nations, wars and human affairs.[69] The first סֶֽלָה (Selah) of three in the psalm comes here, which may refer to a pause for thought or key change.[70] Various scholars believe the refrain is missing after this verse as it is repeated after ‘Selah’ in verses seven and eleven.[71] For such a structured psalm, such a proposal is not illogical. At the same time, the transition from verse three to four without a refrain emphasises the chaos to the tranquillity.[72] There being no manuscript evidence to support a missing refrain also suggests it was never missed.[73] Another logical suggestion is the omission of the refrain is a ‘rhetorical device that moves the reader/hearer from the opening verses of the psalm into the heart of the psalm’s message in vv. 4-5’.[74] This supports the trajectory of other Korahite psalms where part of the emphasis is on the protection of the city of Jerusalem, Zion (Ps. 48).[75] This section ‘puts local wars into perspective and leads to the confidence of the next section’.[76] Even if the world should give way, little own one’s very life crumble, God is our help.[77]

A Refuge From Nations (Verses 4-7)

The mood then changes dramatically from waters in turmoil to a river and its streams that delight the city of God. This city is the focus of verses four to seven. Even in times of war God provides, and some of the language used in this section is ‘reminiscent of Paradise’.[78] God’s very ‘creation (Exod. 15:17) of Israel had also been a consequence of his control of the chaotic waters, by which he conquered Pharaoh and redeemed his people (Exod. 15:1-10)’.[79] Now the psalmist turns from protection in the midst of threats from nature, to protection in the midst of threats from other nations. Nothing is great enough to fear when God is our refuge and strength.

The Calm in the Storm (Verse 4)

נָהָ֗ר פְּלָגָ֗יו יְשַׂמְּח֥וּ עִיר־אֱלֹהִ֑ים קְ֝דֹ֗שׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵ֥י עֶלְיֽוֹן׃

The river (נָהָ֗ר) whose streams delight the city of God (פְּלָגָ֗יו יְשַׂמְּח֥וּ עִיר־אֱלֹהִ֑ים) is a stark contrast to the raging waters in the previous verse. River is the first word in the clause which puts it ‘more abruptly into the forefront as an absolute nominative’.[80] God ‘subdued the chaotic waters (104:6-9)’ and ‘transformed them into life-giving waters’.[81] This may be reference to the flow of water from Hezekiah’s tunnel or other water channels that fed into Jerusalem but the point is ‘God’s provision of the water of life for his people’.[82] Some consider there being a mythological allusion to the springs in the dwelling place of El the Canaanite god but it could also refer back to the river that flowed through the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:10).[83] The image is also picked up in places such as: Isaiah (33:21); Ezekiel (47:1-12); and in Revelation describing the new Jerusalem (22:1).[84] The city of God (עִיר־אֱלֹהִ֑ים) is a significant theme of the Old Testament ‘and especially of the Psalms’.[85] Though Jerusalem is not explicitly stated, it is still ‘a reference in the psalmist’s mind to Jerusalem’ and ‘the holy dwelling place of the Most High’ (קְ֝דֹ֗שׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵ֥י עֶלְיֽוֹן) refers to the temple. [86] This is not to suggest that God’s presence is restricted to a certain location as the psalmist is sure to emphasise God’s sovereign control over the whole earth.[87] The term ‘Most High’ is used of God in Abraham’s time (Gen. 14:18, 22).[88] The description continues in the next verse.

God Rescues (Verse 5)

אֱלֹהִ֣ים בְּ֭קִרְבָּהּ בַּל־תִּמּ֑וֹט יַעְזְרֶ֥הָ אֱ֝לֹהִ֗ים לִפְנ֥וֹת בֹּֽקֶר׃

The emphasis once again lands on אֱלֹהִ֣ים (God) with a disjunctive clause as the security for the city of God is not because of Jerusalem or the temple, but ‘solely to its chief resident’[89] ‘in the midst of her’ (ְּ֭קִרְבָּהּ). It is because of his presence that the city ‘will not be shaken’ (בַּל־תִּמּ֑וֹט) in comparison to the mountains (vs. 2) and the kingdoms (vs. 6) which repeats the same word.[90] The phrase ‘when the morning dawns’ (לִפְנ֥וֹת בֹּֽקֶר) is not referring to a magical element in the morning but is ‘associated with sunrise, and therefore a new day after the darkness of the night’.[91] Jerusalem saw ‘visible evidence’ of God’s protection in Isaiah’s time when morning dawned (37:36).[92] It also reflects the greatest deliverance from Egypt (Exod. 14:27)[93], the creation story (Gen 1:2-5)[94] and other references in Psalms (30:5; 90:14; 130:6)[95]. Today Christ’s habitation is in his people and though Weiser believes Luther took liberty in relation to Christ with the famous hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’, it seems most accurate to sing of God’s protective strength and pronounce, ‘Christ Jesus, it is he’.[96]

God’s Power (Verse 6)

הָמ֣וּ ג֖וֹיִם מָ֣טוּ מַמְלָכ֑וֹת נָתַ֥ן בְּ֝קוֹלֹ֗ו תָּמ֥וּג אָֽרֶץ׃

The nations (ג֖וֹיִם) are in an uproar (הָמ֣וּ) and the kingdoms (מַמְלָכ֑וֹת) shake (מָ֣טוּ) insinuating war and the chaotic might of human powers.[97] This points to ‘the inherent instability of evil’ which is part of God’s judgment, but God does not sit by passively, he intervenes with his voice (נָתַ֥ן בְּ֝קוֹלֹ֗ו) being ‘as decisive in dissolving the world as it was in creating it (cf. Ps 33:6, 10)’.[98] God is the true stability when everything else shakes and quakes. All he does is speaks and ‘the earth melts’ (תָּמ֥וּג אָֽרֶץ). Essentially the ‘people are terrified’[99] and ‘what was once a strong element to be confronted dissolved and ran away’[100]. The nations that Christians are a part of may threaten them but ‘God speaks the word only, and they all dissolve’.[101]

The Refuge (Verse 7)

יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֣וֹת עִמָּ֑נוּ מִשְׂגָּֽב־לָ֝נוּ אֱלֹהֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃

The LORD of armies (יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֣וֹת) ‘is used some 285 times in the Hebrew Bible, but only fifteen times in the Psalter’.[102] This term is first stated in Samuel (1 Sam 1:3) and ‘expresses the infinite resources and power which are at the disposal of God as he works on behalf of his people’.[103] It is fitting for such a description to be highlighted in this psalm as there is no greater refuge. This army under God’s control ‘are heavenly angels as well as all earthly forces’.[104] There is no one better to have ‘with us’ (עִמָּ֑נוּ) then the sovereign LORD. The stronghold (מִשְׂגָּֽב) here is distinct from verse one yet conveys a similar concept as it is a ‘fortified height to which one could flee for safety, so symbolising the security of believers in God’.[105] The title ‘God of Jacob’ (אֱלֹהֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֣ב) could be used to imply God’s ‘protective character’[106] or considering Jacob’s scheming and unworthiness it could point to not only ‘God’s covenant with the patriarch, but God’s power and grace in dealing with the needy’ (c.f. Pss. 20:1; 24:1-6).[107] In consideration of this concept Maclaren said, ‘the God of Jacob is the Lord of hosts. More wondrous still, the Lord of hosts is the God of Jacob’.[108] The second section ends where the first section began in that the LORD is the only true source of protection.

A Refuge Forever (Verses 8-11)

The final segment continues the same theme of security and fearlessness in Yahweh.[109] It ties together both the concepts of refuge in nature and refuge from nations as one witnesses God’s actions on earth (v. 8) and his control over nations and human powers (v. 9), calling for exaltation on the earth and among the nations (v. 10). Drawing it all together with the repeated refrain of the LORD’s stability and security (v. 11). Although it is possible for the psalm to be born from a historical event it is clear from this psalm ‘that something more can be expected from God, namely, that war shall be abolished and Yahweh “will be exalted among the nations” (cf. Luke 21:25)’.[110] There is an eschatological element in this Psalm that can delight the people of God.

God’s Power (Verse 8)

לְֽכוּ־חֲ֭זוּ מִפְעֲל֣וֹת יְהוָ֑ה אֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֖ם שַׁמּ֣וֹת בָּאָֽרֶץ׃

The invitation goes out to the nations to, ‘come, see’ (לְֽכוּ־חֲ֭זוּ). This plural imperative may be addressed to the nations, ‘yet, like so many other instances, especially in the Prophets…when God addresses the nations, it often becomes a message of comfort and reassurance to Israel as well’.[111] They are to see the power of God to destroy.[112] ‘The works of the LORD’ (מִפְעֲל֣וֹת יְהוָ֑ה) are defined as ‘desolations on the earth’ (שַׁמּ֣וֹת בָּאָֽרֶץ) all of which is preparing for a better future, ‘in which universal peace will prevail’.[113] All defined by the following verse.[114]

God Subdues (Verse 9)

מַשְׁבִּ֥ית מִלְחָמוֹת֮ עַד־קְצֵ֪ה הָ֫אָ֥רֶץ קֶ֣שֶׁת יְ֭שַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּ֣ץ חֲנִ֑ית עֲ֝גָל֗וֹת יִשְׂרֹ֥ף בָּאֵֽשׁ׃

The Niphal participle (מַשְׁבִּ֥ית) ‘describes what he will do, since the context is a vision of the final victory’.[115] The wars (מִלְחָמוֹת֮) will cease to the end of the earth (עַד־קְצֵ֪ה הָ֫אָ֥רֶץ).[116] It is ‘universal destruction of all that troubles our world…an act of God on that scale and at that depth will take place only with the return of Christ at the end of our age’.[117] To break a bow and cut off a spear (הָ֫אָ֥רֶץ קֶ֣שֶׁת יְ֭שַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּ֣ץ חֲנִ֑ית) ‘would mean to break the power of the warrior (see Hos. 1:5)’.[118] Although עֲ֝גָל֗וֹת is not used for war chariots elsewhere[119] it seems the most likely reading as discussed above[120], it also stresses ‘the power of the weaponry being destroyed’.[121] This verse presents the LORD as a warrior which ‘is a powerful metaphor that occurs in many of the psalms in the Psalter’.[122] In the end peace comes to the whole world, but it comes through judgment. Kidner points out that ‘this sequence, with tranquillity on the far side of judgment, agrees with Old Testament prophecy and apocalypse, and with the New Testament (e.g. Isa. 6:10-13; 9:5; Dan. 12:1; 2 Pet. 3:12f.)’.[123]

Stop and Exalt (Verse 10)

הַרְפּ֣וּ וּ֭דְעוּ כִּי־אָנֹכִ֣י אֱלֹהִ֑ים אָר֥וּם בַּ֝גּוֹיִ֗ם אָר֥וּם בָּאָֽרֶץ׃

The verb הַרְפּ֣וּ (be still) some understand to be a command for meditation or quiet reflection, for the Israelites to do nothing.[124] On the other hand, this command could be considered a ‘rebuke to a restless and turbulent world’.[125] Considering the volatile context it makes sense to refer to the latter more than the former suggestion. It is a command ‘to allow God to be God, to do his work of abolishing the weapons of war’.[126] ‘Know that I am God’ (וּ֭דְעוּ כִּי־אָנֹכִ֣י אֱלֹהִ֑ים) makes the point “it is I, God” ‘that am doing this…whether God was God or not was not involved here’.[127] The language of exaltation (אָר֥וּם) ‘is the language of kingship (e.g., Pss. 99:1-2, 5, 9; 113:4-5; 145:1)’.[128] It is ‘repeated for emphasis; that is in majesty, and the exhibition of it in the deeds above described’.[129] God is exalted as sovereign King over nature and the nations. The very threats that were stated above ‘are now harnessed in service to the exaltation of God’.[130] This establishes the truth all the more that he is the only true refuge that can be found.

The Refuge (Verse 11)

יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֣וֹת עִמָּ֑נוּ מִשְׂגָּֽב־לָ֝נוּ אֱלֹהֵ֖י יַעֲקֹ֣ב סֶֽלָה׃

The repeated refrain ‘comes back with added force, if such a God is ‘with us’, and if one so exalted is’ ‘our stronghold’ what can stand against those who put their trust in him.[131] There is no more fitting way to sum up the entire psalm with people singing ‘their faith in their deliverer’.[132]

Conclusion

Psalm 46 provides great encouragement that there is a refuge from the most unimaginable disasters that are possible to the smallest upset in life that could cause one to lose hope. There is no need to fear for those who are completely surrendered to the LORD. Here is a ‘faith which confidently faces every kind of danger because it carries with it the unshakable certitude of the victory that overcomes the world’.[133] The God who will ‘bring everlasting peace is able to give peace to the troubled heart today’.[134] All those with anxious spirits and fearful hearts can fill their minds with the truths of this psalmist’s poetic song and rest in the refuge that only the LORD can provide.

Footnotes

  1. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: with Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit Morphology; Bible. O.T. Hebrew. Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit. (2006). (Ps 46). Logos Bible Software.

  2. A few manuscripts have (עַלְמ֥וּת). Allen Ross, Commentary on the Psalms: 42-89. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2013), 81. The LXX has ὑπέρ τῶν κρυφίων meaning, “over hidden things”. Septuaginta: With Morphology (Electronic ed.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979), 45. Goulder takes the preposition to be in the locative sense as he does with Psalm 45 ‘by the Lillies’. He even suggests the concept of ‘sopranos’ or ‘virginals’ is ‘guesswork’ instead interpreting it as ‘at the Deeps’. M. D. Goulder, The Psalms of the Sons of Korah (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 20; Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, Dept. of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield, 1982), 139. Despite these various translations and different manuscripts, the identical phrase (עַֽל־עֲלָמ֥וֹת) is found in 1 Chronicles 15:20. Braun considers it to be a ‘technical musical term traditionally associated with soprano voices’. Roddy Braun, 1 Chronicles (Word Biblical Commentary; Waco, Tex: Word Books, Publ, 1986), 184. Comparing the term ‘Sheminith’ (עַל־הַשְּׁמִינִ֖ית) in the next verse (1 Chron 15:21) may also strengthen the view of it being a technical musical reference (cf. Ps 6:1). The correlation between the two words and the reference to a musical technicality in 1 Chronicles appears to suggest this term is a musical technicality.

  3. Craigie points out that the Hebrew עֹ֑ז ‘may mean “strength” or “refuge, protection”’ and concludes that the latter option ‘is implied by the present context’. Peter C. Craigie, Psalm 1-50 (ed. Bruce M. Metzger; 2nd ed.; Word Biblical Commentary; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 342. The translation ‘strength’ is still appropriate but contains the sense of ‘stronghold, for defence’ (Jer 16:19; Ps 28:6; 59:9, 17; Prov. 14:26). Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 738–739. This strength could be both protection and power. Ross believes it is possible for the word “strength” to ‘form a nominal hendiadys with the preceding word “refuge,” yielding the meaning that God is “a strong refuge”.’ Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 87.

  4. The preposition ב can be used temporally, marking ‘an actual time’. Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 196.

  5. The Niphal participle here is modified by the Hebrew adnominal מְאֹד. J. C. L. Gibson, Davidson’s Introductory Hebrew Grammar Syntax (4th ed.; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994), 142. The BDB considers it to imply God is ‘proved to be’ an abundant help. Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, 593. In this passage it seems the original word order can still provide the full force of the meaning without having to change it in the translation.

  6. The preposition ב, used twice in this verse, some consider to be a causal clause. J. Wash Watts, A Survey of Syntax in the Hebrew Old Testament (Grand Rapid, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), 98. However, Leupold points out that ‘in a negative context this becomes the equivalent of a concessive clause.’ H. C. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 367. In this context the concessive clause appears to follow the progression of the author’s intention and is possible with this phrasing. Geoffrey Khan (ed.), Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013), 538.

  7. Due to the concessive clause in the previous verse the two imperfect verbs in this verse ‘continue this concessive emphasis’. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 367.

  8. There is no conjunction in the MT here. Ross points out that ‘the Greek, Symmachus, and Syriac have it.’ Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 82. The use of ‘and’ here allows for a smoother translation.

  9. This (בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ) refers back to ‘waters’ (מֵימָ֑יו) but ‘these are regarded as a singular. Therefore the singular suffix’. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 367.

  10. In poetry some words placed in the plural merely intensify the idea of the singular. Gibson, Davidson’s Introductory Hebrew Grammar Syntax, 20.

  11. Literally, ‘he gave [out] with his voice’. The preposition here ‘really expresses means’. Ronald J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline (2nd ed.; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976), 45.

  12. There is no article in the Hebrew. ‘Many manuscripts and the Greek add the article.’ Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 82. The definite article is rarely used in Hebrew poetry and must be understood from the context. Peter Bekins, ‘The Omission of the Definite Article in Biblical Poetry’, in Academia, 2016, https://www.academia.edu/30145121/The_Omission_of_the_Definite_Article_in_Biblical_Poetry, (accessed March 21, 2019).

  13. ‘The Greek version generalizes the meaning with one of its favorite words for the Psalter, ἐσαλεύθη, “shaken.”’ Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 82. This seems appropriate in the context.

  14. Ross points out that ‘many manuscripts (32 Kenn., 46 De-Rossi), some Greek manuscripts (A L), and the Syriac have “God”… אֱלֹהִ֑ים harmonizes well with the second book of Psalms, which is, perhaps, reason enough for saying the divine name is the preferred reading.’ Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 83. This opinion makes sense following the lectio difficilior potior principle in textual criticism.

  15. The LXX uses a more general Greek word τέρατα meaning, “signs, wonders”. Septuaginta: With Morphology, chap. 45; Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 83. These desolations are signs of ‘the works of the LORD’.

  16. This Hebrew word is uncertain in this context. Craigie supports this by saying, ‘the common Hebrew usage of the noun עֲגָלָה is “cart”; it is only the present context which raises doubt.’ Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 342. The NIV translates it as ‘shields’ but includes a footnote that it ‘might indicate chariots, although in either case the same point is made’. Tremper Longman III, Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 205. The LXX has καὶ θυρεοὺς meaning, “and shields”. Septuaginta: With Morphology, chap. 45. Ross points out that the plural ‘עגלות, “round (shields),” as Targum.’ He also says that the Hebrew word is usually “wagons”. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 83. Leupold assists in working out the matter when he notes that ‘the term ‘agaloth’ refers to anything that has wheels. This could be baggage wagons as well as chariots.’ Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 368. Chariots also makes logical sense ‘especially as we know that chariots were burnt after they were captured (Josh. 11:6, 9)’. Allan M Harman, Psalms (Fearn, Ross-shire: Mentor, 2011), 190.

  17. The two uses of the preposition ב is used here as an ‘estimative’. This means it specifies ‘the range against which an opinion is held’. Waltke and O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, 198.

  18. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 363.

  19. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 363.

  20. James Montgomery Boice, Psalms 42 – 106 (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1996), 2:388.

  21. Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries 15; Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008), 191. Known in English as, ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God’. The concept of it being a ‘Battle Hymn’ can misconstrue Luther’s intention as he saw it less of a military song and more of a ‘hymn of comfort’. Paul Westermeyer, ‘“A Mighty Fortress” and Psalm 46 in Context’, Word & World 34/4 (2014): 401. Regardless, the psalmist provides comfort and warrior like themes.

  22. John Calvin, Calvin’s Bible Commentaries: Psalms, Part II (trans. by John King; n.p.: Forgotten Books, 1847), 153.

  23. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 345. This will be explained further.

  24. The exact phrase of ‘at break of day’ (לִפְנ֥וֹת בֹּֽקֶר) occurs in Exodus (14:27). C. Hassell Bullock, Psalms (eds. Mark L. Strauss and John H. Walton; Teach the Text Commentary; Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2015), 345. It is not merely this precise common idiom that indicates a correlation between Israel’s past and this psalm but also synonymous terms such as: God’s ‘strength’ (Ps. 46:1; Exod. 15:2); and God’s dwelling place (Ps. 46:4; Exod. 15:17).

  25. Other Songs of Zion are Psalm 48, 76, 84, 87, 132 and Broyles points out a similar pattern in this psalm with other Songs of Zion. Craig C. Broyles, Psalms (New International Biblical Commentary Old Testament Series; Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 208. Craigie argues it is best to classify it as a Psalm of Confidence with some peculiarities. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 342. Goldingay agrees in his conclusion of it being similar to a psalm of trust.John Goldingay, Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 2:65. While it does not mention the city of Jerusalem or use the word ‘Zion’, it does reflect some of the other Songs of Zion in its pattern and content. It could safely be titled a Song of Zion and a Song of Confidence without having to strictly adhere to either classification.

  26. Michael Wilcock, The Message of Psalms 1-72: Songs for the People of God (The Bible Speaks Today; Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 167. It generally comes down to the events of 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 or 2 Kings 18:13-19:36. Geoffrey Grogan, Psalms (The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2008), 100.

  27. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 85.

  28. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 85.

  29. The only scholar that was noted with having a different opinion was Bullock who believed there to be two sections. Bullock, Psalms, 345–346. Part of the reasoning was that Bullock believed those who divided it into three section most often argued for there to be a third refrain that was lost by a copyist. Though this is a common train of argument, it does not equate the necessity of making two sections instead of three when thematically it makes sense to have the three divisions which the majority of scholars agree with (1-3, 4-7, 8-11). Furthermore, Harman notes that the word ‘Selah’ in the Psalter ‘only occurs in psalms which are divided into three sections, and always comes at the end of a section, sometimes of all three’. Harman, Psalms, 76. Folger believes there are two structures: one marked by Selah, the other marked by the subject matter but this seems unnecessary. Arie Folger, ‘Understanding Psalm 46’, Jewish Bible Quarterly 41/1 (March 2013), 35–43.

  30. Craigie points this out when noting that earth (אֶרֶץ) appears ‘in all three sections’ (vv. 2, 6, 8, 9, 10). This provides ‘the overall unity of theme’. He goes on to point out how ‘the first two sections are closely related by the repeated use of the following terms: (a) עֶזְרָ “help” (vv. 1, 5); (b) מוֹט “slide, slip” (vv. 2, 5, 6); (c) המה “roar” (vv. 3, 6). The second and third sections are linked through the repeated use of ג֖וֹיִם “nations” (vv. 6, 10). The whole psalm is further rounded out in that the substance of the refrains (vv. 7, 11) reflects the substance of the opening declaration (v 1)’. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 343. The verse numbers have been changed in this paper from the MT text numbering which includes the superscription. These numbers have also been changed from various scholars that use the MT text numbering.

  31. The BDB considers there to be a ‘Director’s Psalter’ used as the prayer book for the synagogue of the Greek period which would have contained the fifty-five psalms which begin with this superscription. Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, 664.

  32. Pss. 42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, 88.

  33. Bullock, Psalms, 62–63.

  34. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 85.

  35. The exact phrase also occurs in 1 Chronicles 15:20.

  36. Nancy L. DeClaissé-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner, The Book of Psalms (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament; Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014), 12.

  37. Calvin, Psalms, 153.

  38. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 342. As above, these possibilities are supported by the contrasting passage in 1 Chronicles 15:20-21.

  39. Leupold considers there to be ‘no good reason why the sopranos should render this psalm’ because he believes it is too sturdy and should be ‘rendered by the basses’. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 363. This personal opinion of Leupold’s that may reflect his taste in music does not bear enough evidence to conclude it would not be sung by sopranos, as Lane points out the opposite viewpoint by stating that ‘high voices were best suited to the note of triumphant joy’. Eric Lane, Psalms 1-89 (Fearn, Ross-shire: Christian Focus, 2006), 211. Furthermore, the comparative term in the Chronicles passage (1 Chronicles 15:21) ‘Sheminith’ (עַל־הַשְּׁמִינִ֖ית) is most often understood as a bass musical technicality, see above.

  40. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 86.

  41. DeClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, The Book of Psalms, 422.

  42. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 192.

  43. Gerald Henry Wilson, Psalms (The NIV Application Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2002), 75. Psalm 18:1-2 in particular points out ‘both David’s internal strength and external refuge, and this psalmist echoes these convictions’. Grogan, Psalms, 100. This theme is also found throughout the Psalms (61:3; 62:7-8; 71:7; 142:5).

  44. Wilcock, The Message of Psalms 1-72, 166.

  45. Longman III, Psalms, 204.

  46. Bullock, Psalms, 346.

  47. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 363.

  48. Harman, Psalms, 189.

  49. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 192.

  50. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 87.

  51. Ninety-four times in reference to God with forty-four of those times in the Psalter. DeClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, The Book of Psalms, 422.

  52. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 192.

  53. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 88.

  54. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 344.

  55. C. A. Briggs and E. G. Briggs, The Book of Psalms (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1906), 1:394. Kidner agrees that it ‘has implications of his readiness to be ‘found’ (as the root is used in, e.g., Isa. 55:6) and of his being ‘enough’ for any situation (cf. the Heb. of Josh. 17:16; Zech. 10:10)’. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 192.

  56. Broyles, Psalms, 209.

  57. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 89.

  58. Lane, Psalms, 211–212. Kidner also sees a more explicit expression of this concept in Psalm 102:25-28, ‘where the final security of God’s servants is made equally clear’. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 192.

  59. E.g. Briggs and Briggs, The Book of Psalms, 1:394; Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 344; DeClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, The Book of Psalms, 422.

  60. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 344.

  61. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 192.

  62. Bullock notes that ‘whether or not there is a mythological insinuation here, the sea was nevertheless a symbol of instability, with its tossing and turning, its storm-tossed waves, and the ebbing and flowing of the tides’. Bullock, Psalms, 346.

  63. This can also be seen in the understanding that the mountains were a picture of the pillars of the earth that hold it above the chaotic waters (Job 9:5-6; Pss. 18:7; 104:5-6). Broyles, Psalms, 209. Dahood also believes that ‘the “toppling of the mountains” belong to the picture of the great final catastrophe’. Mitchell Dahood, Psalms I: 1-50 (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1965), 279.

  64. DeClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, The Book of Psalms, 422.

  65. Lane, Psalms, 212.

  66. Wilson, Psalms, 716.

  67. Longman III, Psalms, 204.

  68. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 90.

  69. Even if it is describing war the emphasis is still the same. There is security to be found in God, not matter what.

  70. Lane, Psalms, 212.

  71. Wilcock, The Message of Psalms 1-72, 166; Goulder, The Psalms of the Sons of Korah, 155; Artur Weiser, The Psalms: A Commentary (trans. by Herbert Hartwell; Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1962), 369.

  72. Boice, Psalms, 2:390.

  73. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 84.

  74. DeClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, The Book of Psalms, 421.

  75. Bullock, Psalms, 62–63.

  76. Lane, Psalms, 212.

  77. Boice, Psalms, 2:389.

  78. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 91. This will be made evident in the following verses.

  79. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 344.

  80. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 365.

  81. Broyles, Psalms, 209.

  82. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 92.

  83. Bullock, Psalms, 347.

  84. Longman III, Psalms, 207.

  85. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 193. Bullock points out that the exact phrase only occurs in the Korah psalms (46:4; 48:1; 87:3). Bullock, Psalms, 75.

  86. Wilson, Psalms, 717.

  87. As noted above, the term ‘earth’ appears five times signifying this point (vv. 2, 6, 8, 9, 10). Bullock, Psalms, 345. Kelly points out that the word is also placed in the emphatic position, as the last word in each instance. Sidney Kelly, ‘Psalm 46: A Study in Imagery’, Journal of Biblical Literature 89/3 (September 1970): 306. He also concludes the combination of this idea by saying, ‘Yahweh becomes king over the city and the earth, the centre and the universe, simultaneously’. Kelly, “Psalm 46: A Study in Imagery,” 312.

  88. Grogan, Psalms, 101.

  89. Broyles, Psalms, 210. Jeremiah spoke strongly against the idea of the temple being a ‘talisman against defeat (Jer. 7:4)’ for ‘God could abandon his house (and did; see Ezek. 9-11)’. Longman III, Psalms, 206.

  90. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 344.

  91. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 94.

  92. Grogan, Psalms, 101.

  93. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 193.

  94. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 94.

  95. Broyles, Psalms, 210.

  96. Weiser, The Psalms, 367; Longman III, Psalms, 206.

  97. Longman III, Psalms, 205.

  98. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 193.

  99. Harman, Psalms, 190.

  100. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 95.

  101. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 95.

  102. DeClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, The Book of Psalms, 424.

  103. Joyce G Baldwin, 1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary (ed. D. J Wiseman; Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 56.

  104. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 95. This is debateable as some would consider it to be one or the other. 1 Samuel 17:45 could be considered to refer to the armies of Israel and 1 Kings 22:19 could refer to the armies of heaven. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 193. Although Ross does make logical sense, as God is sovereign over the heavens and the earth. It most certainly refers to armies as opposed to a heavenly council (e.g. Job 1:6) as it is he ‘who offers protection against the armies of foreign nations and kingdoms’. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 345.

  105. Harman, Psalms, 190.

  106. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 345.

  107. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 95.

  108. Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 3:345.

  109. Wilson, Psalms, 718.

  110. Broyles makes a convincing point when assessing the most commonly noted historical event of the Assyrian invasion and how ‘the record is plain that the Assyrians had earlier succeeded in capturing “all the fortified cities of Judah” (Isa. 36:1) and only Jerusalem escaped. Further, it is obvious that only some time later (in 681 B.C. as it turns out) the king of Assyria was killed (37:38) and that the ancient Near Eastern nations and empires went on as usual. Perhaps most importantly, how can we explain the preservation of these psalms after the decimation of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.?’ Broyles, Psalms, 211.

  111. Bullock, Psalms, 350.

  112. Wilcock, The Message of Psalms 1-72, 168.

  113. Briggs and Briggs, The Book of Psalms, 1:396.

  114. Harman, Psalms, 190.

  115. Lane, Psalms, 212–213.

  116. This is interesting as the previous verse contained a warning of God’s desolation ‘and yet when that desolation occurs, it is war that is desolated’. Melissa Tidwell, ‘There Is a River: A Meditation on Psalm 46’, Journal for Preachers 39/1 (January 2015): 37.

  117. It is more than just war but the ending ‘of the deep evil that causes war, and the eventual doom of the many who do seem to get away with their crimes’. Wilcock, The Message of Psalms 1-72, 168–169.

  118. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 97.

  119. Bullock, Psalms, 348.

  120. In the translation notes.

  121. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 98.

  122. DeClaissé-Walford, Jacobson, and Tanner, The Book of Psalms, 424.

  123. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 193–194.

  124. Briggs and Briggs, The Book of Psalms, 1:396. This Hiphil imperative is better translated in other references with the same verb (e.g. 1 Sam. 15:16; 2 Kings 4:27; 1 Chron. 21:15). It is causative, hence the hiphil, and translates as ‘let drop, let go, refrain’. Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, 951–952.

  125. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 194. Kidner goes on to point out a resemblance ‘to another raging sea’ where the words ‘Peace! Be still!’ were uttered and may better resemble this command.

  126. Broyles, Psalms, 210. Harman agrees with this conclusion pointing out that ‘the Hebrew verb means more ‘to let alone’, ‘to abandon’ and ‘is addressed to the Gentile invaders’. Harman, Psalms, 190–191.

  127. Leupold, Exposition of the Psalms, 368.

  128. Broyles, Psalms, 210.

  129. Briggs and Briggs, The Book of Psalms, 1:396.

  130. Craigie, Psalm 1-50, 345.

  131. Kidner, Psalms 1-72, 194.

  132. Harman, Psalms, 191.

  133. Weiser, The Psalms, 373–374.

  134. Ross, Commentary on the Psalms, 84.

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