“Come, Philipp, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm”, was the request of Martin Luther to his friend and colleague Melanchthon upon hearing discouraging news. And it was a regular request of his in 1527 as there was much darkness and tumult on which to dwell. The Black Plague was again sweeping across much of Europe and into Germany. Luther’s son had almost died, and his own health was buckling under the weight of staying in Wittenberg to minister to the sick and dying while continuing to teach and preach.
Let’s consider a few points from Psalm 46 to see the source of his courage and confidence:
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth
though the mountains be moved into the
heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
The logic here is straightforward: God is…therefore we will…even though. So even when it feels like our world is falling apart, we will not fear because God is…
Our refuge. Do you feel trapped? Pursued by danger? Flee to him who alone holds you securely and safely.
Our strength. Do you feel weak under the load of what’s being asked of you? Are you weary in doing good? Let the God of all power supply your strength and be upheld by his righteous right hand.
Our very present help in trouble. Are you distressed? Feeling alone in your difficulties? Call on the God who is very near, who watches over his people desiring to save them.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad
the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Not only is God our help and refuge, in his presence is fullness of joy. We are immovable because of his immutability and perpetually hopeful because he is in control, and he is good. The Lord laughs at the rebellious efforts of his enemies and establishes Christ’s eternal kingdom. (Ps 2)
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
There are three commands in these verses— actions to take that will serve us well…
Behold. Look at and deeply consider the works of the Lord. See in them his mighty power and sovereignty over his creation. See how he protects and delivers his people and how he executes justice and makes peace.
Be Still. Being in awe of him is the only appropriate response to beholding. His impotent enemies are petrified into stillness, and his saints are bowed in humble adoration.
Know. Know that he is God Most High, who will be exalted among the nations and in all the earth. This triumph is not merely a possibility, it is the most certain thing we can know because he has said it.
Charles Spurgeon spurs us onward in joyful courage from v11:
“It was fit to sing this twice over. It is a truth of which no believer wearies, it is a fact too often forgotten, it is a precious privilege which cannot be too often considered. Reader, is the Lord on your side? Is Emmanuel, God with us, your Redeemer? Is there a covenant between you and God as between God and Jacob? If so—thrice happy are you. Show your joy in holy song, and in times of trouble play the man—by still making music for your God.”
So come, Christian, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm. Come, behold the works of the Lord. Know that he is Most High. Trust that he is our God, our mighty fortress. And be of good courage!
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