Help in Trouble, Psalm 46

Where is God when I am in trouble?

Psalm 46

Where is God when I am in trouble? He is in the same place that He is when I am doing well.

Therefore, the question ought to be, Do I know where God is? And, where am I in my thinking? Who do I expect to help me? Is God the first One in my mind?

The 46th Psalm, believed with all the heart, as it did Martin Luther when kings and popes were trying to kill him, will assure you of your Helper. More about Luther later.

The Preface 

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song for Alamoth.

The 46th Psalm was written as a poem intended to be sung. Therefore, it was handed over to the Chief Musician. This Psalm was not written by David, but the sons of Korah. They did not rebel against leadership as their father Korah did, but these men loved the Lord and wrote some of the best literature in the world. The song was written for women or at least women would have the melody, which is how we do our songs today. This is the meaning of Alamoth. “Alamoth. virgins, a musical term (1 Chr. 15.20), denoting that the psalm which bears this inscription (Ps. 46) was to be sung by soprano or female voices” (Easton Dictionary).

Psalm 46.1–3 

Our Always Present Help 

1–3 God is our refuge and strength…

What is God to us? He is our refuge. He is our strength. Throughout America we have wildlife refuges, places where animals are safe from human activity. When there is war, people want a place of safety, a refuge. When there is a storm, people want to be out of the weather, they want a refuge. God is a very present help in all trouble; He is our place of safety. He is there even for the trouble that we have created, and the ultimate example is when we sin, which can land us in hell, but He is there ready to forgive us! Is that help or what? If you have the God of heaven as a refuge and as your strength, you have no reason to fear! Let the earth be moved out of its place, let the mountains be carried into the middle of the seas, let the waters of the seas roar and be troubled so much so that they shake the mountains, nevertheless, we will not fear! Selah! Pause for a moment and think on these things.

Psalm 46.4–7 

A River 

4–7 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God…

There is this river whose streams bring gladness to the city of God. In this psalm, we are speaking of ancient Jerusalem. That was the home of the tabernacle of the Most High God. Therefore, it was a holy place and He is dwelling right there in the middle of her. Jerusalem symbolizes the church. Be a faithful and loyal member of the church and you have nothing to fear. What can happen to you that will keep God from being a very present help in trouble? Do not fear because, as Jesus said in John 7, you have rivers of living water, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7.38). Leroy Brownlow says, “While the ocean fiercely raged and madly dashed against the mountains, seeking to undercut them (vers. 2, 3), the city of God, Jerusalem, was pictured with a peaceful and restful river spreading its beauty and fruitfulness throughout its course.” He continued later to say, “This unfailing assurance is especially needed today to soothe the sore, tattered nerves of a generation that has relied too much on earth-made tranquilizers and too little on heaven-made tranquility.” These four verses explain what was said in the first three verses. How did the Psalm begin? God is our help. He helps us when great things are shaken. What do verses 4–7 declare, especially verses 5 and 6? God is in the middle of His city, His people, which is now the church. Therefore, we shall not be moved! The nations and kingdoms, which are like mountains are moved and God speaks, melting the earth, but we shall not be moved. Do you hear the announcement of verse 7? The Lord of hosts, the Lord of the angelic armies is with us! So what if nations come and go. Our God is always with us. What then shall we fear? Do you understand that the God of Jacob is our refuge? Look at all the troubles of the man Jacob and the nation of Jacob. God carried Jacob through all his troubles, and that included the movement of great nations and kingdoms. His brother was after him. His father-in-law cheated him. His wives competed with one another. His daughter was raped. A couple of his sons wiped out a village. His sons hated one of the youngest sons. Yet, the Lord carried the man through all his troubles. Selah. Stop for a while this week when you hear of trouble coming and when you are in trouble, remembering that the God of Jacob is your refuge!

Psalm 46.8, 9 

Look at the Works of the Lord 

8, 9 Come, behold the works of the LORD…

Are you still not sure about these things? (From vv. 1–7.) Are you still thinking that situations might arise where and when God is not with you? Take up the invitation of the sons of Korah. They invite us to behold the works of the Lord. What are His works that they want us to see? He has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two. He burns the chariot in the fire. The troubles that come to attack you, He disarms, or the great things of the earth that He disassembles, do not change His status with His people.

Psalm 46.10 

Know Yahweh Is God 

10 Be still, and know that I am God…

If all the preceding did not persuade us to trust God, He now speaks to us. Do you hear what He says to you? Be still. Cease your worrying. Cease your anxiety. Be still and learn something. If you learn what you need to learn, you will find being still easier to do, even in the middle of trouble. Here is what you need to stop and learn. Learn that Yahweh is God. Learn that He will be exalted among the nations. Learn that He will be exalted in the earth. Stop and learn who is your refuge and strength! Do you think that such a God will not be there when you are in trouble? Yahweh is God, the One who rules over all things. He is exalted in the earth. Our troubles are no problem for Him.

Psalm 46.11 

Our Always Present Help 

11 The LORD of hosts is with us…

This truth is so vital that the sons of Korah repeated it. They said it in verse 7, they repeated it in verse 11. The One who has all the angelic armies at His command is with us! Even as He gave Jacob, the man, refuge, and even as He gave Jacob the nation, Israel, refuge, so He gives us refuge during times of trouble! What more can the Psalm say?

As Paul said, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8.31). Psalm 46 is powerful, bringing comfort to the troubled soul. Our nation needs to hear this Psalm. The church needs to hear this Psalm. When Martin Luther was threatened with problems, with kings and popes trying to kill him, he would often sing this Psalm. It moved him to write the song, “A Mighty Fortress.” What will knowing God as your refuge and strength move you to do? The devil is after you! What will you do? Where will you go?


5 thoughts on “Help in Trouble, Psalm 46

  1. Great overview, Don. One brother read this Psalm last week before Sunday school. We’re studying Revelation so the Psalm’s symbolic language was a great lead into some of the verses we looked at in Revelation 8.

    • Thanks, Eugene! I love Revelation 8. One of my favorite sermons to preach, I base upon Revelation 8, answering the question of why there was silence in heaven.

  2. Thank you, this is fantastic. I was looking for context because I’ve read it many times and wanted to look deeper. I found your post searching for “what does Psalm 46 means?”

    • Thank you for your kind words, fabispunk! And thank you for telling me how you found the article; people usually do not give that information, but it is a great help to me to know what brought you to my site. We may find a blessing by knowing the power of Psalm 46.

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