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.
I. This Psalm is a hymn concerning the kingdom of Christ and of God. It tells us something of the government which Christ has been exercising over the world ever since the beginning of it, and which He is exercising over this world now. "Be still, and know that I am God"—that I, not you, will be exalted among the nations; that I, not you, will be exalted in the earth.
II. Those who forget that they are in Christ's kingdom Christ does not go out of His way to punish. They simply punish themselves. They earn their own ruin by the very laws of nature.
III. If you wish to prosper on the earth, let God be in all your thoughts. Remember that the Lord is on your right hand; and then, and then alone, will you not be moved, either to terror or to sin, by any of the chances and changes of this mortal life. "He that believeth," saith the prophet, "shall not make haste"—shall not hurry himself into folly, and disappointment, and shame.
C. Kingsley, All Saints' Day, and Other Sermons, p. 200.
References: Psalm 46:1.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 124. Psalm 46:1, Psalm 46:2.—C. Kingsley, The Water of Life, p. 228; H. Jones, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 314. Psalm 46:4.—D. Jones, Ibid., vol. xviii., p. 276.
Psalm 46:4-7It is probable that we have in this Psalm the devotional echo of the great deliverance of Israel from Assyria in the time of Hezekiah. We may call these verses the hymn of the defence and deliverance of the city of God.
I. First, we have the gladdening river—an emblem of many great and joyous truths. The river is God Himself in the outflow and self-communication of His own grace to the soul. We may see here a very beautiful suggestion of the manner, and then of the variety, and then of the effects of that communication of the Divine love and grace. (1) The manner. Not with noise, not with tumult, not with conspicuous and destructive energy, but in silent, secret, underground communications, God's grace, God's love, His peace, His power, His almighty and gentle self, flow into men's souls. (2) The variety. "The streams whereof"—literally the divisions thereof. As you can take and divide the water all but infinitely, and it will take the shape of every containing vessel, so into every soul according to its capacities, according to its shape, according to its needs, this great gift, this blessed presence, of the God of our strength shall come. (3) The effects. The streams make glad. That all-sufficient spirit not only becomes to its possessor the source of individual refreshment and slakes his own thirst, but flows out from him for the gladdening of others.
II. Notice, secondly, the indwelling Helper. "God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early" (at the appearance of the morning). There are two things, then: first of all, the constant presence; and second, help at the right time.
III. The conquering voice. "The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered His voice, the earth melted." With what vigour these hurried sentences describe (1) the wild wrath and formidable movements of the foe, and (2) the one sovereign word which quells them all, as well as the instantaneous weakness that dissolves the seeming solid substance when the breath of His lips smites it!
IV. Note, finally, how the Psalm shows us the act by which we enter the city of God. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." These truths are nothing to us unless, like the psalmist here, we make them our own, and losing the burden of self in the very act of grasping them by faith, unite ourselves with the great multitude who are joined together in Him, and say, "He is my God; He is our refuge."
A. Maclaren, Sermons Preached at Manchester, 3rd series, p. 45.
References: Psalm 46:6.—F. W. Farrar, Silence and the Voices of God, p. 51. Psalm 46:8, Psalm 46:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 190.
Psalm 46:10The true quietism of the book of Psalms is quietism in the midst of action, quietism which only one who hears the call to act and obeys it can understand or prize.
I. "The Lord of hosts is with us." This is the pervading idea of the Psalm. He is not coming down among us, like some heathen god, to help us in an emergency; He is with us, not visible to our eyes, but really present, the strength and refuge of our hearts.
II. "Be still, and know." We cannot know this deep and eternal truth unless we are still. But, on the other hand, this knowledge will make us still. If we have it not, or are not seeking to have it, we must be restless and impatient; just so far as it is granted to us, it must bring tranquillity.
III. For "be still, and know that I am God." So we are instructed that it is God who reveals Himself to us. He says, "I am God," not a conception of your minds, not one whom you make what he is by your mode of thinking of him, but a living Person, who is saying to you what He said to Moses in the bush: "I am;" who is teaching you that you could not be if He were not, that all the thoughts, apprehensions, intimations, of your spirits were given you by Him, and are meant to lead you to Him.
IV. The lesson would have been imperfect without the words that follow: "I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." The Lord whom the Jews worshipped was the Ruler of all the nations, had created the earth and all its treasures "for His service. To despise the heathen or to despise the earth was to despise Him; the Jew existed to assert the sacredness of both by claiming both as parts of His dominion.
F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 239.
Psalm 46:10The two clauses which compose this sentence are so interwoven that each may be the cause and each may be the effect of the other. The way to know God is to be still, and the way to be still is to know God. It is one of these beautiful reciprocities which we often find between a duty and a privilege. The way to do the duty is to accept the privilege, and the way to enjoy the privilege is to do the duty.
I. Stillness is the condition of our knowing God. It does not say, "Be still, and know God." The very opposite is implied; for to know that He is God is almost in itself a confession that God is not to be known. "Be still, and know that I am," not a man, not to be estimated by human calculation, not to be measured by material movement, but the eternal, the infinite, the incomprehensible "God." (1) In order to know God there must be a silent power of reception. There is a great tendency to think that the benefit of our communion with God depends upon the energy of the thought or the strength of the affection which we put in it. It is far more important quietly to take in. God is sure to speak if the hush of your soul be deep enough. Heaven and earth are sure to reflect themselves if the mirror of your mind be calm enough. (2) Another element of stillness is veneration. We are greatly at fault in this matter. We walk rough-shod, and we intrude rashly, and we think superficially in the holiest things. God will not show Himself till the shoes are off the feet, till the thoughts are lowered, and the spirit subdued. (3) It is essential that any one who wishes to know and feel the being, and the presence, and the care, and the sufficiency of God should be much in secret with Him. The time you spend alone with God will always be the measure of your knowledge of God.
II. In the stillness you will learn (1) that God is from all eternity the same; (2) that God elects His own; (3) that the whole scheme of man's salvation revolves within himself; (4) that all God's attributes harmonise in Christ. This is stillness: The Lord is; the Lord liveth; the Lord reigneth.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 7th series, p. 46.
References: Psalm 46:10.—J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. iii., p. 16; J. Keble, Sermons on Various Occasions, p. 363.
Psalm 46:11"The Lord of hosts." The name speaks of camps and armies. "The God of Jacob." Jacob was a plain man, living in tents; the type speaks of home and quiet pursuits. Put the two together, and we have war and peace. Or side by side we have in perfect unity assembled multitudes and a single individual. He is the God alike of the many and the one.
I. There is always a feeling of solemnity in the sight of the unity and the order of great multitudes. It is part of the pleasure which we have in looking up to the stars—vast systems of worlds, each one circling in a fixed orbit. It is the awe of the spectacle of the march of a great army. Still more, we have it in the angels, who, though not to the exclusion of the disciplined throngs of nature, are specially the hosts of God's world. And to the full as much we have it in the congregation of saints before the throne. All these are "the hosts of the Lord."
II. The Lord is Jesus. Is He not the Captain of Israel, the Head of the Church, the King of saints? He is the God of Sabaoth. He is our Emmanuel. "The Lord of hosts is with us." His presence is no solitary thing. All that is pure and holy in all worlds follows Him; all that is worth the loving and all that is worth the having is there.
III. Who is "the God of Jacob"? Let Jacob himself tell: "The God who fed me all my life long unto this day; the Angel which redeemed me from all evil." The God of Jacob is (1) the God of election; (2) the God of birthright and blessing; (3) the God of presence and promise; (4) the God of faithfulness.
IV. "Refuge"—it is what we all want, and may soon want sorely. The refuge is God Himself. He is the strong tower into which we run and are safe.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 7th series, p. 129.
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
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.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.