April 19: Psalm 46

April 19: Psalm 46

God is the refuge of His people                             Ein Feste Burg (A Mighty Fortress is our God)

God is our refuge and our strength, in our distress, a present aid;

Though all the earth should be removed, we will not therefore be afraid.

Though mountains great be hurled into the ocean’s depths,

Though seas may roar and foam, and billows shake the shore,

Though mountains tremble at their power.

A river brings refreshing streams to cheer the city of our God.

The Most High’s holy dwelling place; God is in her, she won’t be moved.

At dawn will God help her; though nations rage; realms quake;

He lifts His voice; earth melts; The Lord of Hosts is here!

Our fortress strong is Jacob’s God.

O come, see what the Lord has done: He desolations brought on earth.

On earth He puts an end to wars, breaks bow and spear, and chariots burns.

Be still! Know I am God! High over nations all;

Exalted o’er all earth. The Lord of Hosts with us!

Our fortress strong is Jacob’s God.

Luther’s battle-hymn, Ein feste Burg, took its starting-point from this psalm, catching its indomitable spirit but striking out 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). ‘Refuge’ gives the defensive or external aspect of salvation: God the unchanging, in whom we find shelter. ‘Strength’ probably implies the dynamic aspect: God within, to empower the weak for action. Both are summarized in the words ‘a very present help in trouble,’ where the term ‘very present’ has implications of His readiness to be found. The injunction ‘Be still’ is not in the first place comfort for the harassed, but a rebuke to a restless and turbulent world: ‘Quiet!’— in fact, ‘Leave off!’ It resembles the command to another raging sea: ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the end in view is stated in terms not of man’s hopes, but of God’s glory. His firm intention ‘I will be exalted’ then arouses the comfort and confidence of the humble-—if such a God is ‘with us,’ and if one so exalted is ‘our stronghold.’ (Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, D.J. Wiseman, Ed., pages 175-176)

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