Psalm 46:8
Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he has made in the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) The Lord.—Many MSS. read Elohîm instead of “Jehovah.”

Desolations . . .—Either, silence of desolation, “silence” being the primary sense of the word, or (as in Jeremiah 19:8), wonders, which silence by their suddenness and marvel. So LXX. and Vulg., and this is confirmed by Psalm 46:10.

Psalm 46:8-9. Come, behold the works of the Lord — Draw near, all ye that doubt whether God be with us, and consider seriously these wonderful victories, which it would have been impossible for us to have obtained without the help of God; what desolations he hath made in the earth — That is, among those people of the earth who were neighbouring and hostile to us, and thought to have laid us waste, 2 Samuel 8:1; 1 Chronicles 18:1. Mark, I beseech you, how many cities we have taken, and what desolations we have made, by his assistance, in their country. All the operations of providence must be considered as the works of the Lord, and his attributes and purposes must be taken notice of in them, particularly when he turns upon the enemies of his church that very destruction which they designed to bring upon her. He maketh wars to cease — He hath ended our wars, and settled us in a firm and well-grounded peace; unto the end of the earth — Or of this land, namely, of Israel, from one end of it to the other. Or, he may be understood as speaking more generally, that God, when he pleases, puts an end to the wars of nations, and crowns them with peace. For war and peace depend on his will and word, as much as storms and calms at sea.46:6-11 Come and see the effects of desolating judgments, and stand in awe of God. This shows the perfect security of the church, and is an assurance of lasting peace. Let us pray for the speedy approach of these glorious days, and in silent submission let us worship and trust in our almighty Sovereign. Let all believers triumph in this, that the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, has been, is, and will be with us; and will be our Refuge. Mark this, take the comfort, and say, If God be for us, who can be against us? With this, through life and in death, let us answer every fear.Come, behold the works of the Lord - Go forth and see what the Lord has done. See, in what his hand has accomplished, how secure we are if we put our trust in him.

What desolations he hath made in the earth - Or, in the land. The word "desolations" might refer to any "ruin" or "overthrow," which he had brought upon the land of Israel, or on the nations abroad - the destruction of cities, towns, or armies, as proof of his power, and of his ability to save those who put their trust in him. But if this be supposed to refer to the invasion of the land of Israel by Sennacherib, it may point to what occurred to his armies when the angel of the Lord went forth and smote them in their camp Isaiah 37:36, and to the consequent deliverance of Jerusalem from danger. Without impropriety, perhaps, this may be regarded as all appeal to the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go forth and see for themselves how complete was the deliverance; how utter the ruin of their foes; how abundant the proof that God was able to protect his people in times of danger. It adds great beauty to this psalm to suppose that it "was" composed on that occasion, or in view of that invasion, for every part of the psalm may receive a beautiful, and an ample illustration from what occurred at that memorable period. Nothing "could" furnish a clearer proof of the power of God to save, and of the propriety of putting confidence in him in times of national danger, than a survey of the camp of the Assyrians, where an hundred and eighty-five thousand men had been smitten down in one night by the angel of God. Compare 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:36.

8. what desolations—literally, "who hath put desolations," destroying our enemies.8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

Psalm 46:8

"Come, behold the works of the Lord." The joyful citizens of Jerusalem are invited to go forth and view the remains of their enemies, that they may mark the prowess of Jehovah and the spoil which his right hand hath won for his people. It were well if we also carefully noted the providential dealings of our covenant God, and were quick to perceive his hand in the battles of his church. Whenever we read history it should be with this verse sounding in our ears. We should read the newspaper in the same spirit, to see how the Head of the Church rules the nations for his people's good, as Joseph governed Egypt for the sake of Israel. "What desolations he hath made in the earth." The destroyers he destroys, the desolators he desolates. How forcible is the verse at this date! The ruined cities of Assyria, Babylon, Petra, Bashan, Canaan, are our instructors, and in tables of stone record the doings of the Lord. In every place where his cause and crown have been disregarded ruin has surely followed; sin has been a blight on nations, and left their palaces to lie in heaps. In the days of the writer of this Psalm, there had probably occurred some memorable interposition of God against his Israel's foes; and as he saw their overthrow, he called on his fellow citizens to come forth and attentively consider the terrible things in righteousness which had been wrought on their behalf. Dismantled castles and ruined abbeys in our own land stand as memorials of the Lord's victories over oppression and superstition. May there soon be more of such desolations.

"Ye gloomy piles, ye tombs of living men,

Ye sepulchres of womanhood, or worse;

Ye refuges of lies, soon may ye fall,

And 'mid your ruins may the owl, and bat,

And dragon find congenial resting place."

Psalm 46:9

"He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth." His voice quiets the tumult of war, and calls for the silence of peace. However remote and barbarous the tribe, he awes the people into rest. He crushes the great powers till they cannot provoke strife again; he give his people profound repose. "He breaketh the bow," the sender of swift-winged death he renders useless. "And cutteth the spear in sunder" - the lance of the might man he shivers. "He burneth the chariot in the fire" - the proud war-chariot with its death-dealing scythes he commits to the flames. All sorts of weapons he piles heaps on heaps, and utterly destroys them. So was it in Judea in the days of yore, so shall it be in all lands in eras yet to come. Blessed deed of the Prince of Peace! when shall it be literally performed? Already the spiritual foes of his people are despoiled of their power to destroy; but when shall the universal victory of peace be celebrated, and instruments of wholesale murder be consigned to ignominious destruction? How glorious will the ultimate victory of Jesus be in the day of his appearing, when every enemy shall lick the dust!

Psalm 46:10

continued...

i.e. Among those people of the earth who were neighbouring and vexatious to God’s people, and therefore were cut off by David, and their lands and cities in great part wasted. Come, behold the works of the Lord,.... Of nature and grace, especially those of Providence; both in a way of judgment, as in this verse; and of mercy, as in Psalm 46:9. These words are an address of the psalmist to his friends, as Apollinarius supplies it; or of the church to the fearful among them, who were dismayed at the commotions and disturbances that were in the world, Psalm 46:2; and who are encouraged to trust in the Lord, from the consideration of his works, particularly his providential dispensations;

what desolations he hath made in the earth; in the land of Judea, at the time of the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, foretold by Moses, Deuteronomy 32:22; by Daniel, Daniel 9:26; and by our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 23:38; and which desolations being the fulfilling of prophecy, may serve to strengthen the faith of God's people, that whatsoever he has said shall come to pass; and that seeing he made such desolations among the Jews, for their rejection of the Messiah, what may not be expected will be made in the antichristian states, for their opposition to him? and, besides, are a confirmation of the truth of his being come; since after his coming these desolations, according to Daniel, were to be made; nor was the sceptre to depart from Judah till he came, nor the second temple to be destroyed before he was in it. Moreover, these desolations may refer to those that have been made in the Roman empire, upon the blowing of the trumpets; the first "four" of which brought in the Goths, Huns, and Vandals, into the western part of it, which made sad ravages and devastations in it; see Revelation 8:7; and the "fifth" and "sixth" brought in the Saracens and Turks into the eastern part of it, which seized and demolished it, and made dreadful havoc among men; see Revelation 9:1. Likewise the desolations that will be made in the antichristian states may be here intended; when the seven vials of God's wrath will be poured out upon them, Revelation 16:1 when the kings of the earth will hate the whore, and make her desolate, Revelation 17:16; and all her plagues shall come upon her in one day, Revelation 18:8. And a view of these desolations, even in prophecy, may serve to cheer the hearts of God's people under the present reign of antichrist, and under all the rage, fury, and oppression of antichristian powers, since they will all in a little time become desolate. This will be the Lord's doing, and it will be wondrous in our eyes.

Come, behold the works of the LORD, {h} what desolations he hath made in the earth.

(h) That is, how often he has destroyed his enemies, and delivered his people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. Come, behold] The invitation is addressed to all (Isaiah 33:13), but especially to the nations, who are bidden (Psalm 46:10) to take warning from the sight. They are not merely to “see the works of Jehovah” (Psalm 66:5), but to behold them; to gaze upon them with discerning insight.

the Lord] Some MSS. read God; but LXX, Targ., Jer., support the text. The name Jehovah may have been retained as significant in relation to foreign enemies.

what desolations &c.] Rather, who hath set desolations, or, astonishments. It is possible, as Lagarde thought, that the LXX represents another reading, wonders (Jeremiah 32:20).

8–11. An exhortation to reflect upon this marvellous deliverance and learn its lesson.Verse 8. - Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. The deliverance of Israel from its peril is effected by "desolations" or "devastations," which God accomplishes among the nations. The announcement is very vague and general, so that it would apply to almost any occasion when the people of God were delivered from a pressing peril. (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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