Psalms 45–47: Our Refuge & Strength

Read the Bible in 2023 ◊ Week 16: Wednesday

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains shake into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar
and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its lofty pride. Selah.
Psalm 46:1–3 LSB

Today’s Bible reading of Psalms 45–47 gives us psalms of God’s majesty and power. M’Caw and Motyer title Psalm 45, A Royal Wedding Song, and write:

“This song of a royal marriage was almost certainly prompted by the ceremony of a Hebrew king marrying a foreign princess…

“The song was included in the Psalter because it illustrated an idea which is frequently used in Scripture, viz., that the human marriage relationship is an echo, or at least an allegory, of the covenant relationship between God and His people. This same basic idea is carried over into the NT where the church is described as the Bride of Christ.”1

Psalm 46 speaks of God’s sovereignty over all the peoples and nations. As nations come against God’s people, Psalm 46 affirms that whatever may happen, God is our refuge and strength.

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts up the spear;
He burns the chariots with fire.
striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:9–10 LSB

Derek Kidner titles Psalm 46, “A City Unshaken,” and writes:

“Luther’s battle hymn, Ein’ feste Burg [A Mighty Fortress], took its starting-point from this psalm, catching its indomitable spirit but striking in new directions. The psalm for its part proclaims the ascendancy of God in one sphere after another: His power over nature (1–3), over the attackers of his city (4–7) and over the whole warring world (8–11). Its robust, defiant tone suggests that it was composed at a time of crisis, which makes the confession of faith doubly impressive.”2

The New American Standard Bible and the Legacy Standard Bible both translate verse 10 as cease striving rather than be still. From the context this phrase better captures the command.

M’Caw and Motyer comment on verse 10:

“The moral of the psalm is plain: because the Lord is God, let all men cease their efforts to usurp His sovereignty.”3

Verse 10 has nothing to do with a command to participate in unbiblical meditation as some have claimed, but rather it speaks to the nations who war against God. God is sovereign and for His people that means when the nations rise up, He is our fortress—as the psalmist concludes in verse 11.

Yahweh of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.
Psalm 46:11 LSB

Psalm 47 continues the theme that God is sovereign.

O clap your hands, all peoples;
Make a loud shout to God with the sound of a shout of joy.
For Yahweh Most High is fearsome,
A great King over all the earth.
He subdues peoples under us
And nations under our feet.
He chooses our inheritance for us,
The pride of Jacob whom He loves. Selah.
Psalm 47:1–3 LSB

It is exuberant with praise to God, a great King over all the earth.

Sing praises to God, sing praises;
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with a skillful psalm.
Psalm 47:6–7 LSB

Kidner titles Psalm 47, “The Shout of the King.”

“From the first word to the last, this communicates the excitement and jubilation of an enthronement; and the king is God Himself…And more than poetry: this is prophecy, whose conclusion is exceptionally far-reaching.”4

God reigns over the nations,
God sits on His holy throne.
The nobles of the peoples have assembled themselves
with the people of the God of Abraham,
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is highly exalted.
Psalm 47:8–9 LSB

These psalms magnify God as the great King over all the earth. Yet we also learn He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. How incredible it is that the Lord of the universe stoops to care for us in our need.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God!

For a brief overview of the structure and poetry of Psalms see my post, The Five Books of Psalms.
Silvesterzug Laterne: Bk muc. (CC BY-SA 4.0).
World Political Map: Public Domain.
1, 3Leslie S. M’Caw and J. T. Motyer, “Psalms,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds. (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 479, 480.
2,4Derek Kidner, Psalm 1–72 (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1973) 174, 177.

I’m using Michael Coley’s Bible reading plan (one page PDF to print) to read through the Bible in 2023. Each day my posts are on different books because he divides Bible readings into seven categories, one for each day of the week: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy and Gospels. There’s more information on his plan and other ones at Read the Bible in 2023.

Copyright ©2011–2023 Iwana Carpenter

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