Psalm 46:2
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
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(2) Though the earth be removed.—Literally, at the changing of the earth. Possibly with the same figure implied, which is expressed, Psalm 102:26, of the worn-out or soiled vesture. The psalmist was thinking of the sudden convulsion of earthquake, and figures Israel fearless amid the tottering kingdoms and falling dynasties. Travellers all remark on the signs of tremendous volcanic agency in Palestine.

It is interesting to compare the heathen poet’s conception of the fearlessness supplied by virtue (Hor. Ode 3:3).

Psalm 46:2-3. Therefore will not we fear — They that, with a holy reverence, fear God, need not, with any amazement, be afraid of any power of earth or hell. If God be for us, who can be against us? It is our duty, it is our privilege to be thus fearless. It is an evidence of a clear conscience, of an upright heart, and of a lively faith in God and in his providence and promise. Though the earth — The very foundation on which we stand, and on which are built all our temporal blessings; should be removed — Out of its place; should no longer support, but sink under us: though all our creature-confidence fail us, and that which should uphold us, threaten to swallow us up, as the earth did Korah; and though the mountains — The strongest and firmest parts of the earth; be carried into the midst of the sea — And lie buried in the unfathomed ocean; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled — Though the sea rage and foam, and make a dreadful noise, and its furious billows lash the shore with so much violence, that the mountains shake with the swelling thereof: yet, while we keep close to God, and have him for us, we have no cause to fear. What the heathen poet vainly boasted concerning his justum et tenacem propositi virum, his just and upright man, is really true of the believer that makes God his refuge and strength, and confides in him for support in trouble:

Si fractus illabatur orbis, Impavidum ferient ruinæ. — HORACE.

“If the world should be dissolved, and fall in pieces around him, the ruins would strike him unappalled.” The psalmist, however, speaks figuratively. The earth represents the established course of human things, mountains are princes and kingdoms, and the waters of the sea multitudes of people. His meaning, therefore, is, though there should be nothing but shakings, commotions, and desolations, in all the nations around us; though kingdoms and states be in the greatest confusion, embroiled in wars, tossed with tumults, and their governments be overturned by insurrections of the people, and be in continual revolution; though their powers combine against the church and people of God, though they aim at no less than their ruin, and go very near to effect their purpose; yet will we not fear, knowing that all these troubles will end well for the church. If the earth be removed, those have reason to fear that have laid up their treasures on earth, and have set their hearts upon it; but not those who have laid up for themselves treasures in heaven, and who then can expect to be most happy, when the earth, and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up. Let those be troubled at the troubling of the waters, who build their confidence on such a floating foundation, but not those who are led to the Rock that is higher than they, and find firm footing upon that rock.

46:1-5 This psalm encourages to hope and trust in God; in his power and providence, and his gracious presence with his church in the worst of times. We may apply it to spiritual enemies, and the encouragement we have that, through Christ, we shall be conquerors over them. He is a Help, a present Help, a Help found, one whom we have found to be so; a Help at hand, one that is always near; we cannot desire a better, nor shall we ever find the like in any creature. Let those be troubled at the troubling of the waters, who build their confidence on a floating foundation; but let not those be alarmed who are led to the Rock, and there find firm footing. Here is joy to the church, even in sorrowful times. The river alludes to the graces and consolations of the Holy Spirit, which flow through every part of the church, and through God's sacred ordinances, gladdening the heart of every believer. It is promised that the church shall not be moved. If God be in our hearts, by his word dwelling richly in us, we shall be established, we shall be helped; let us trust and not be afraid.Therefore will not we fear - Our confidence in God shall be unshaken and abiding. Having Him for our refuge and strength Psalm 46:1, we can have nothing to fear. Compare Psalm 56:3.

Though the earth be removed - literally, "in the changing of the earth;" that is, though the earth should be changed. This may either mean, Though the earth should change its place or its very structure in these convulsions; or, though it should perish altogether. Compare Psalm 102:26. The idea is, that they would not be afraid, though the convulsions then occurring in the world should be continued, and should be extended so far as to destroy the very earth itself. God would remain their friend and protector, and they would have nothing to fear.

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea - Margin, as in Hebrew, "into the heart of the seas." This may either be understood literally, as implying that they would "not" be afraid though the mountains, the most fixed and firm things of earth, should be uprooted and sunk in the ocean - implying that nothing earthly was stable; or, the mountains here may be referred to as emblems of that which seemed to be most settled and established on earth - the kingdoms of the world. The idea is, that in any convulsion - any change - any threatened danger - they would place confidence in God, who ruled over all, and who could not change. It will be seen at once that this entire description of trust and confidence in God is applicable to the time of Hezekiah, and to the feelings which he manifested when the land was invaded by the hosts of Sennacherib, and when wars and commotions were abroad among the kingdoms of the earth. See the introduction to the psalm. It was, also, eminently suited to console the mind in the circumstances to which Luther so often applied the psalm - the agitations, convulsions, wars, dangers in Europe, in the time of the Reformation. It is suited to any time of trouble, when commotions and revolutions are occurring in the earth, and when everything sacred, true, and valuable seems to be in danger.

2, 3. The most violent civil commotions are illustrated by the greatest physical commotions. Though there should be nothing but shakings, and confusions, and desolations in all the nations round about us; which are oft expressed by such metaphors, as Jeremiah 51:25 Haggai 2:21,22 Rev 6:14.

Therefore will not we fear,...., The consideration of the Lord's being the refuge, strength, and help of his people, in all times of trouble and distress, has a great influence on their faith and confidence, and makes them intrepid and fearless in the midst of the greatest dangers: nor indeed have they any reason to be afraid of men or devils, since the Lord is on their side; nor should they indulge a slavish fear on any account whatever;

though the earth be removed; or "changed" (u), as to its position or fruitfulness; or whatever changes, vicissitudes, and revolutions may be in the kingdoms, nations, and among the inhabitants of the earth, through wars and desolations made thereby;

and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; so the destruction of kingdoms, empires, and cities, is expressed by a like phrase; as of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:25; and of the Roman and Pagan empire, Revelation 6:12, and of the city of Rome, Revelation 8:8.

(u) "cum mutabit", Pagninus; "etiamsi permutarit", Vatalbulus; "si commutaret", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ainsworth.

Therefore will not we {c} fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

(c) That is, we will not be overcome with fear.

2. Therefore will we not fear, though earth should change,

And the mountains be moved into the heart of the seas.

Cp. Horace’s description of the dauntlessness of the just man (Odes iii. 3. 7),

Si fractus illabatur orbis,

Impavidum ferient ruinae.

The words are to be understood literally (Isaiah 54:10), and not metaphorically, as “a vivid sketch of utter confusion, dashed in with three or four bold strokes, an impossible case supposed in order to bring out the unshaken calm of those who have God for ark in such a deluge” (Maclaren). At the same time they suggest the thought of the upheaval and commotion of the nations, and (Psalm 46:3) the flood of invasion beating against mount Zion and threatening to overwhelm it. Cp. Psalm 46:6; Isaiah 17:12-13.

Verse 2. - Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed; or, though the earth change - a somewhat vague expression, probably to be understood of political changes and revolutions (see ver. 6). And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; rather, and though the mountains be hurled into the heart of the seas. A metaphor for still more strange and violent disturbances and commotions. The revolutions and disturbances intended are probably those caused by the Assyrian career of conquest briefly described in Isaiah 10:5-14; Isaiah 37:18-27, and fully set forth in the annals of the Assyrian kings (see G. Smith's 'Eponym Canon,' pp. 106-149; and the author's 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 2. pp. 83-210). Psalm 46:2(Heb.: 46:2-4) The congregation begins with a general declaration of that which God is to them. This declaration is the result of their experience. Luther, after the lxx and Vulg., renders it, "in the great distresses which have come upon us." As though נמצא could stand for הנּמצעות, and that this again could mean anything else but "at present existing," to which מאד is not at all appropriate. God Himself is called נמצא מאד as being one who allows Himself to be found in times of distress (2 Chronicles 15:4, and frequently) exceedingly; i.e., to those who then seek Him He reveals Himself and verifies His word beyond all measure. Because God is such a God to them, the congregation or church does not fear though a still greater distress than that which they have just withstood, should break in upon them: if the earth should change, i.e., effect, enter upon, undergo or suffer a change (an inwardly transitive Hiphil, Ges. ֗53, 2); and if the mountains should sink down into the heart (בּלב exactly as in Ezekiel 27:27; Jonah 2:4) of the sea (ocean), i.e., even if these should sink back again into the waters out of which they appeared on the third day of the creation, so that consequently the old chaos should return. The church supposes the most extreme case, viz., the falling in of the universe which has been creatively set in order. We are no more to regard the language as being allegorical here (as Hengstenberg interprets it, the mountains being equals the kingdoms of the world), than we would the language of Horace: si fractus illabatur orbis (Carm. iii. 3, 7). Since ימּים is not a numerical but amplificative plural, the singular suffixes in Psalm 46:4 may the more readily refer back to it. גּאוה, pride, self-exaltation, used of the sea as in Psalm 89:10 גּאוּת, and in Job 38:11 גּאון are used. The futures in Psalm 46:4 do not continue the infinitive construction: if the waters thereof roar, foam, etc.; but they are, as their position and repetition indicate, intended to have a concessive sense. And this favours the supposition of Hupfeld and Ewald that the refrain, Psalm 46:8, 12, which ought to form the apodosis of this concessive clause (cf. Psalm 139:8-10; Job 20:24; Isaiah 40:30.) has accidentally fallen out here. In the text as it lies before us Psalm 46:4 attaches itself to לא־נירא: (we do not fear), let its waters (i.e., the waters of the ocean) rage and foam continually; and, inasmuch as the sea rises high, towering beyond its shores, let the mountains threaten to topple in. The music, which here becomes forte, strengthens the believing confidence of the congregation, despite this wild excitement of the elements.
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