God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Refuge and strength.—Better, a refuge and stronghold, or a sure stronghold, as in Luther’s hymn,
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott.
A very present help.—Better, often found a help.Psalm 46:1. God is our refuge and strength — He hath manifested himself to be so in the course of his providence in time past, and he has engaged to be so in time to come, and will not fail to fulfil his engagement. Are we in danger from visible or invisible enemies? God is our refuge, to whom we may flee, and in whom we may be safe. Have we work to do, a warfare to accomplish, and sufferings to endure? God is our strength to bear us up under our burdens, and to fit us for all our services and sufferings. Are we oppressed with troubles and distresses? He is a help in trouble: yea, a present help — Hebrew, עזרה נמצא מאד, gnezra nimtza meod, a help found exceedingly, or, tried very much; one whom we have found by experience to be such; a help on which we may write, probatum est; or, a help at hand, that is, never far to seek, but always ready to be found of us. Or, a help sufficient, accommodated to every case and exigence whatever. Psalm 18:2. The idea here is, that the people of God, in time of danger, may find him to be what such a place of refuge would be. Compare Proverbs 18:10. The word "strength" implies that God is the source of strength to those who are weak and defenseless; or that we may rely on his strength "as if" it were our own; or that we may feel as safe in his strength as though we had that strength ourselves. We may make it the basis of our confidence as really as though the strength resided in our own arm. See the notes at Psalm 18:2.
A very present help - The word "help" here means aid, assistance. The word "trouble" would cover all that can come upon us which would give us anxiety or sorrow. The word rendered "present" - נמצא nimetsâ' - means rather, "is found," or "has been found;" that is, he has "proved" himself to be a help in trouble. The word "present," as if he were near to us, or close by us, does not accurately express the idea, which is rather, that "he has been found" to be such, or that he has always "proved" himself to be such a help, and that, therefore, we may now confide in him. The word "very," or "exceedingly," is added to qualify the whole proposition, as if this were "emphatically true." It was true in the most eminent sense that God had always been found to be such a helper, and, "therefore," there was nothing to fear in the present distress. Psalm 46:2.
Ps 46:1-11. Upon Alamoth—most probably denotes the treble, or part sung by female voices, the word meaning "virgins"; and which was sung with some appropriately keyed instrument (compare 1Ch 15:19-21; see on Ps 6:1, title). The theme may be stated in Luther's well-known words, "A mighty fortress is our God." The great deliverance (2Ki 19:35; Isa 37:36) may have occasioned its composition.
1. refuge—literally, "a place of trust" (Ps 2:12).
present help—literally, "a help He has been found exceedingly."
2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
"God is our refuge and strength." Not our armies, or our fortresses. Israel's boast is in Jehovah, the only living and true God. Others vaunt their impregnable castles, placed on inaccessible rocks and secured with gates of iron, but God is a far better refuge from distress than all these: and when the time comes to carry the war into the enemy's territories, the Lord stands his people in better stead than all the valour of legions or the boasted strength of chariot and horse. Soldiers of the cross, remember this, and count yourselves safe, and make yourselves strong in God. Forget not the personal possessive word "our;" make sure each one of your portion in God, that you may say, "He is my refuge and strength." Neither forget the fact that God is our refuge just now, in the immediate present, as truly as when David penned the word. God alone is our all in all. All other refuges are refuges of lies, all other strength is weakness, for power belongeth unto God: but as God is all-sufficient, our defence and might are equal to all emergencies. "A very present help in trouble," or in distresses he has so been found, he has been tried and proved by his people. He never withdraws himself from his afflicted. He is their help, truly, effectually, constantly; he is present or near them, close at their side and ready for their succour, and this is emphasised by the word "very" in our version, he is more present than friend or relative can be, yea, more nearly present than even the trouble itself. To all this comfortable truth is added the consideration that his assistance comes at the needed time. He is not as the swallows that leave us in the winter; he is a friend in need and a friend indeed. When it is very dark with us, let brave spirits say, "Come, let us sing the Psalm 46:1-11."
"A fortress firm, and steadfast rock,
Is God in time of danger;
A shield and sword in every shock,
From foe well-known or' stranger."
"Therefore." How fond the Psalmist is of therefores! his poetry is no poetic rapture without reason, it is as logical as a mathematical demonstration. The next words are a necessary inference from these. "Will not we fear." With God on our side, how irrational would fear be! Where he is all power is, and all love, why therefore should we quail? "Though the earth be removed," though the basis of all visible things should be so convulsed as to be entirely changed. "And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;" though the firmest of created objects should fall to headlong ruin, and be submerged in utter destruction. The two phrases set forth the most terrible commotions within the range of imagination, and include the overthrow of dynasties, the destruction of nations, the ruin of families, the persecutions of the church, the reign of heresy, and whatever else may at any time try the faith of believers. Let the worst come to the worst, the child of God should never give way to mistrust; since God remaineth faithful there can be no danger to his cause or people. When the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the heavens and the earth shall pass away in the last general conflagration, we shall serenely behold "the wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds," for even then our refuge shall preserve us from all evil, our strength shall prepare us for all good.
"Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled." When all things are excited to fury, and reveal their utmost power to disturb, faith smiles serenely. She is not afraid of noise, nor even of real force, she knows that the Lord stilleth the raging of the sea, and holdeth the waves in the hollow of his hand. "Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof." Alps and Andes may tremble, but faith rests on a firmer basis, and is not to be moved by swelling seas. Evil may ferment, wrath may boil, and pride may foam, but the brave heart of holy confidence trembles not. Great men who are like mountains may quake for fear in times of great calamity, but the man whose trust is in God needs never be dismayed.
"Selah." In the midst of such a hurly-burly the music may well come to a pause, both to give the singers breath, and ourselves time for meditation. We are in no hurry, but can sit us down and wait while earth dissolves, and mountains rock, and oceans roar. Ours is not the headlong rashness which passes for courage, we can calmly confront the danger, and meditate upon terror, dwelling on its separate items and united forces. The pause is not an exclamation of dismay, but merely a rest in music: we do not suspend our song in alarm, but retune our harps with deliberation amidst the tumult of the storm. It were well if all of us could say, "Selah," under tempestuous trials, but alas! too often we speak in our haste, lay our trembling hands bewildered among the strings, strike the lyre with a rude crash, and mar the melody of our life-song. THE ARGUMENT
a very present help in trouble; whether inward or outward, of soul or body; the Lord helps his people under it to bear it, and he helps them out of it in the most proper and seasonable time: they are poor helpless creatures in themselves; nor can any other help them but the Lord, who made heaven and earth; and he helps presently, speedily, and effectually: in the Hebrew text it is, "he is found an exceeding help in trouble" (t); in all kind of trouble that the saints come into, the Lord has been found, by experience, to be an exceeding great helper of them; moreover, he is easily and always to be come at, and found by them for their help.<
(a) Which was either a musical instrument or a solemn tune, to which this psalm was sung.
(b) In all manner of troubles God shows his speedy mercy and power in defending his.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1. The prayer of Isaiah 33:2, “Be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble,” has been answered. In the extremity of their distress, God has proved Himself the refuge and strength of His people. He has verified the prophecies of Isaiah, who bade them trust in Him alone, and denounced the popular policy of an alliance with Egypt as “a refuge of lies.” Cp. Isaiah 28:15; Isaiah 28:17; Isaiah 30:2.
a very present help in trouble] Lit., a help in distresses hath he let himself be found exceedingly. The words are not merely a general statement, but an appeal to recent experience. For ‘let himself be found’ cp. 2 Chronicles 15:2; 2 Chronicles 15:4; 2 Chronicles 15:15; Jeremiah 29:14.
1–3. Secure under His protection God’s people have nothing to fear, even though the solid earth were convulsed, and rent asunder.Verse 1. - God is our Refuge and Strength (comp. Psalm 18:2; Psalm 94:22, etc.). A very present Help in trouble; literally, a very accessible Help - one easy to be found (comp. 2 Chronicles 15:4). 1 Peter 3:6), and more especially as being king, is her lord, - she is to show towards him her profoundest, reverent devotion. ויתאו is a hypothetical protasis according to Ges. 128, 2, c. The reward of this willing submission is the universal homage of the nations. It cannot be denied on the ground of syntax that וּבת־צר admits of being rendered "and O daughter of Tyre" (Hitzig), - a rendering which would also give additional support to our historical interpretation of the Psalm, - although, apart from the one insecure passage, Jeremiah 20:12 (Ew. 340, c), there is no instance to be found in which a vocative with ו occurs (Proverbs 8:5; Joel 2:23; Isaiah 44:21), when another vocative has not already preceded it. But to what purpose would be, in this particular instance, this apostrophe with the words בּת־צר, from which it looks as though she were indebted to her ancestral house, and not to the king whose own she is become, for the acts of homage which are prospectively set before her? Such, however, is not the case; "daughter of Tyre" is a subject-notion, which can all the more readily be followed by the predicate in the plural, since it stands first almost like a nomin. absol. The daughter, i.e., the population of Tyre - approaching with presents shall they court (lit., stroke) thy face, i.e., meeting thee bringing love, they shall seek to propitiate thy love towards themselves. (פּני) חלּה corresponds to the Latin mulcere in the sense of delenire; for חלה, Arab. ḥlâ (root חל, whence חלל, Arab. ḥll, solvit, laxavit), means properly to be soft and tender, of taste to be sweet (in another direction: to be lax, weak, sick); the Piel consequently means to soften, conciliate, to make gentle that which is austere. Tyre, however, is named only by way of example; עשׁירי עם is not an apposition, but a continuation of the subject: not only Tyre, but in general those who are the richest among each separate people or nation. Just as אביוני אדם (Isaiah 29:19) are the poorest of mankind, so עשׁירי עם are the richest among the peoples of the earth.
As regards the meaning which the congregation or church has to assign to the whole passage, the correct paraphrase of the words "and forget thy people" is to be found even in the Targum: "Forget the evil deeds of the ungodly among thy people, and the house of the idols which thou hast served in the house of thy father." It is not indeed the hardened mass of Israel which enters into such a loving relationship to God and to His Christ, but, as prophecy from Deuteronomy 32 onward declares, a remnant thoroughly purged by desolating and sifting judgments and rescued, which, in order to belong wholly to Christ, and to become the holy seed of a better future (Isaiah 6:13), must cut asunder all bonds of connection with the stiff-neckedly unbelieving people and paternal house, and in like manner to Abram secede from them. This church of the future is fair; for she is expiated (Deuteronomy 32:43), washed (Isaiah 4:4), and adorned (Isaiah 61:3) by her God. And if she does homage to Him, without looking back, He not only remains her own, but in Him everything that is glorious belonging to the world also becomes her own. Highly honoured by the King of kings, she is the queen among the daughters of kings, to whom Tyre and the richest among peoples of every order are zealous to express their loving and joyful recognition. Very similar language to that used here of the favoured church of the Messiah is used in Psalm 72:10. of the Messiah Himself.
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