New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Psa 46:1 For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah- "By" can as well be "for", so the Psalm may still be Davidic, but is dedicated to the memory of the sons of Korah. Korah had died in rebellion against God, but his children had been preserved (Num. 26:9-11); they therefore became representative of all who had overcome bad background to worship Yahweh independently, regardless of the sins of their fathers. They were therefore inspirational to the righteous remnant amongst the exiles in Babylon. Or these "sons of Korah" may refer to a group of musicians who were to perform the Psalm, the Levitical singers mentioned in 1 Chron. 26:1,2; 2 Chron. 20:19. 

According to Alamoth- "Virgins". This is a musical direction, perhaps implying it was to be sung on high notes, with voices  like those of "virgins".

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble-
In the Hezekiah context, this could be seen as the answer to Isaiah's prayer in Is. 33:2: “May You be their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble”. The Psalm appears relevant to a time when Zion was surrounded by armies, and yet God destroyed them and saved His people. This would fit the deliverance from the Assyrians at Hezekiah's time; probably a Psalm written by David commemorating a great deliverance was edited and reapplied to this incident.

Psa 46:2 Therefore we won’t be afraid though the earth shakes, though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas-
"Mountains" may be an intensive plural for the one great mountain, of Zion; and it looked likely to be cast into the seas of the Gentiles, surrounded as Zion was by Assyrian troops. I have suggested on Rev. 8:8 that the mountain cast into the seas in the Apocalypse also refers to Zion. The "we" refers in the first instance to Isaiah, Hezekiah and the faithful remnant within Jerusalem.

Psalm 46 is a Korah Psalm, so we note the references to rebels falling alive into the depths with a roaring underworld beneath them (Ps. 46:2-7). The allusion is to what happened to the father, brothers, sisters and relatives of the "sons of Korah". But the Psalm goes on to talk of how "we" will not fear because ultimate salvation for "us" is certain. We have an insight into the mind of Korah's sons.


Psa 46:3 though its waters roar and are troubled, though the mountains tremble with their swelling. Selah-
The mountains, the great mount Zion (:2), did tremble with fear because of the roaring of the seas of nations around it. But later Isaiah was to glory in the fact that just as the waters roared at the Red Sea and God calmed them, so He came through for Judah at this time (Is. 51:15). But there was to be a time when the waters of Babylon would likewise roar, and overcome Judah (s.w. Jer. 6:23), and the latter day Assyrian confederacy against Zion will do likewise (s.w. Ps. 83:2).

Psa 46:4 There is a river, the streams of which make the city of God glad-
The roaring of the mighty waters of the surrounding Gentiles is contrasted with a tiny stream within Zion. Under siege, Jerusalem has no natural water supply; and so Hezekiah had built a conduit bringing a trickle of water into Zion from the Gihon (2 Kings 20:20). And the city was "glad" of that. This tiny stream kept the people alive. And the Psalmist sees in this a symbol of God's abiding deliverance of His people.


The holy place of the tents of the Most High- The tents of the Assyrians around Jerusalem are contrasted with the invisible tents of God's Angels camped within the besieged city. Things may appear hopeless in secular terms, but in spiritual terms God's saving power is ultimately far superior to whatever we may apparently be outnumbered by.

Psa 46:5 God is in her midst, she shall not be moved-
This connects with David's statement that he personally "shall not be moved" in Ps. 16:8: "I have set Yahweh always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved". The context is of David's desire to take the hill of Zion from the Jebusites, and for it to become his by conquest (see on Ps. 15:1; 16:5,6). He was confident he could do this in God's strength, and by saying "I shall not be moved" he identifies himself with Zion which "shall not be moved" (Ps. 46:5). And indeed God came through for David. Because he put Yahweh "always before me", he was given mount Zion and established his kingdom there. This verse is then quoted about the Lord Jesus- who likewise shall establish His Kingdom upon David's throne in Zion (Lk. 1:34,35) because of His trust in Yahweh.

God will help her at dawn- A reference to how the 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain overnight, and their corpses discovered by the Jews "early in the morning" (2 Kings 19:35).

Psa 46:6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved. He lifted His voice, and the earth melted-
Here we have made explicit that the raging waters of :2,3 represent the nations confederate with Assyria. God's lifted up voice presumably refers to the quiet prophetic words uttered by God through Isaiah, to the effect that He would deliver His people. Those quiet words were perceived by the faithful as God roaring so loud that the earth melted.

Psa 46:7 Yahweh of Armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah-
God's "armies" are the Angels, and it was just one of them who went out and slew 185,000 of the surrounding soldiers. "The God of Jacob" is a phrase which elicits the reflection that Jacob was not spiritually strong, and his God saved him by grace; and that was indeed the case at the time of the salvation of Zion from the Assyrians.

David sees that Yahweh will be a "high tower" or place of refuge at the day of future judgment (Ps. 9:8,9, quoted about this in Acts 17:31). But David feels God has been like this to him in this life (2 Sam. 22:3; Ps. 18:2; 46:7; 48:3; 59:9,16,17; 62:2; 94:22; 144:2), and He was like this by grace to the Jews of Isaiah's day. David therefore sees a seamless experience in his relationship with God in this life, and at the future day of judgment. God saves us right now and is a refuge for us in countless life situations; and this is the guarantee that He will be likewise at the last day.

Psa 46:8 Come, see Yahweh’s works-
As explained on :10, the prophetic intention was that the victory over Assyria and her confederacy was to lead to Judah inviting those nations to come and "see" Yahweh's works, and therefore to accept Him as their God. But Hezekiah failed miserably in this.

What desolations He has made in the earth- "Desolations" is the word used about the threatened judgments upon Judah (Is. 5:9; 24:12; Jer. 19:8). "Made" translates a Hebrew word with a wide range of meaning, translated "change" in 2 Sam. 12:20; Job 17:12. Perhaps the idea is that the nations were to be invited to consider how the desolations threatened upon Jerusalem had been "changed"- by the repentance of a remnant. And this would have been intended to elicit repentance amongst the nations.

Psa 46:9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear. He burns the chariots in the fire-
Several of the prophecies against Judah's enemies include the threat of Divine fire; it is likely that the Angel used fire to destroy the Assyrians. Remember that God makes His Angels as a flame of fire (Ps. 104:4).

Psa 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth-
Being still or slack is the term used in Zeph. 3:16 for the people of Zion actively going out to war. The idea is that the Jews in Jerusalem were not to do anything, apart from trust in Yahweh. They were not to answer a word to their reproaches, but to trust in Yahweh (Is. 36:21). They were to resign all attempts at resolving the invasion in their own strength. The intention was that Israel's God would be exalted, or accepted as alone worthy of praise, in the entire eretz promised to Abraham. But Hezekiah let the ball drop. The surrounding nations came and were allowed by Hezekiah to influence Judah, rather than Hezekiah and Judah bringing these nations beneath Israel's God. He was not "exalted in the earth" as was intended and as was potentially possible.

Psa 46:11 Yahweh of Armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
- See on :7, where this verse is repeated.