A Psalm of War and Peace
Psalm 46:1-11
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.…

The psalm is divided into three parts, as the Selahs at the end of the third and seventh verses indicate. The first is shorter by one verse, but, were the refrain added to it — it has been said that it was once there — then the psalm stands with a symmetry almost unique. As it is, it has not many rivals. This treasure-house of sacred emotions is built of polished stones, and they are fitly set.

1. The first part teaches us to test and try our faith. The singer anticipates a wider storm, and in imagination launches forth in troubled seas. He imagines a break-up, the sea prevailing on the shore, mountains shaken with the swelling thereof; yet through all his faith remains, and he calmly trusts in God. By anticipation he makes preparation for such a crisis, and disciplines his soul to face such an emergency. Our faith is not for an hour or a day: it is to be our mainstay through life and in the hour of death: it is meant to steady and strengthen us in every calamity, however sad, and in every crisis, however sudden. Let us do with it as men do with the anchor chain — try it in fair weather, subject it to a strain greater even than it will likely be called on to bear. Many a faith, once strong, is allowed to rust into weakness, just through sheer neglect.

2. The second part teaches us wisely to remember and profit by the past. Jerusalem had been besieged by the mighty Sennacherib, and delivered miraculously; and the remembrance of the experience strengthened their faith. That night, when the foe surged around her and beleaguered her gates, was a night of omen and portent; but the watchers, in the stillness of the night, still heard the sound of Siloa's brook as it rippled and tinkled through the silence; and they knew that God was with them. We, whose national life is seldom perilled either when the heathen rage or kingdoms are moved, must never forget that there are mercies as great surrounding us as if our path was more troubled. When the summer sun shines and the moon walks forth, we have in them as great tokens of His goodness as was displayed in the deliverance of Jerusalem. Pity the man whose life has gone well with him and who cannot say, The Lord is good: He has been with me.

3. We learn from the third part rightly to act with regard to the present. The time of war is over, its fierce flame has spent itself in desolation. We walk over the battlefield, and feel the silence which has fallen. Then the Divine command comes: "Be still, and know that I am God." All the peace there is on earth has risen out of the storm of war. Its hills were shaped into beauty amid the storms of nature: the grass grows from the detritus and wreck of storms: our liberties have all been purchased in war: Jesus Christ Himself comes from Bozra with dyed garments.

4. Such was the song of war the Hebrew singer sang; now it is the song of the gospel of peace and of victory; for "peace hath her victories no less renowned than war." By the heading, "A Song upon Alamoth," you will see this was a song for the dance, a song for the women to sing. It could be given to those with the gentlest hearts and silentest lives, as well as to those who had brave deeds to do. It was eminently Luther's psalm, on which he founded his own hymn, and is plainly fitted to be a song of the Church.

(J. A. Black, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.} God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

WEB: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

A Divine Refuge and Strength
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