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Comfort from Psalm 46 for Turbulent Times

Omri Miles March 18, 2020

I love that our church is weekly reading through the Psalms. So often, a psalm that has been recently read in our corporate gathering is exactly what I need for shepherding my own heart and others. This week, I have been encouraged by Psalm 46, which we just read this past Sunday. 

Israel’s psalter often contains present comfort derived from future hope. In other words, the writer’s conviction of the certainty of some future event is intended to comfort his own heart and all those who sing, read, or hear the God-breathed words of the psalm. Psalm 46 meets this criteria and, therefore, is instructive for us in the midst of these turbulent times. 

God’s Omnipotent Aid and Ultimate Exaltation

Three times (once in each section of the psalm) the sons of Korah draw attention to God’s omnipotent aid, calling God their “refuge…strength…help…stronghold” (Ps. 46:1, 7, 11). These words paint the picture of One whose faithfulness cannot fail since the constancy of His character is backed by omnipotence (all power). Unlike God, we are not ultimately trustworthy due to our sin and natural human limitations. We cannot ensure our next breath (Job 34:14-15; Lk. 12:25-26), much less the temporary or eternal salvation of another (Ps. 49:7-9). Here, these psalmists reflect on God’s unassailable trustworthiness so that when future generations found themselves in times much like the ones that we do now, times when “the earth should change,” God’s people would confidently say, “we will not fear” (Ps. 46:2). In addition to the omnipotent aid promised to those who fear God more than their temporary circumstances, this psalm provides us with another comforting truth — God’s ultimate exaltation. 

The same One who, for the Christian, is “a very present help in trouble” is also the One who “will be exalted among the nations, [who] will be exalted in the earth” (Ps. 46:10). This truth is a tremendous source of stability for our hearts! Knowing God’s own resolve to glorify His name everywhere produces calm, confident Christians. With this truth at the forefront of our minds, we will, “Cease striving and know that [He is] God” (Ps. 46:10). We can avoid the reckless pandemonium and unchecked fear that daily tempts us by remembering God’s commitment to His own glory in the midst of our current trouble. All of what we are experiencing is relentlessly rushing toward that one great goal.

“The more the saint is tried the more will his confidence in God be seen to be well founded.” — W. S. Plumer (commentary on Psalm 46) 

May this be true of us.