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Plant this truth firmly in your mind and spend the rest of your life massaging it into your soul: “God comes to us in biblical words on which we are meant to stake our lives.”[1] That’s what we must do with the words of Psalm 46. Its uniting refrain, found in verses 7 and 11, declare the truth God aims to chisel deep into our hearts:

The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Lay your eyes on verse 1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Note: God doesn’t lead us to a place of refuge; God is our refuge. He himself is our support, and he is abundantly available and instantly present.

This is especially true when everything that once seemed solid in life begins to melt. That’s the point of the chaos depicted in verses 2 and 3. In contrast to the idyllic environment of Eden, the Psalmist sees mountains falling and trembling, the earth giving way and waters roaring and foaming—poetic allusions to natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions. It’s a picture of the undoing of God’s good creation.

With everything so out of control, we wonder: Is anyone in charge or are we at the mercy of the elements?

To human reason unhealed by divine grace, the world seems turbulent and threatening. But those living under the tutelage of Scripture see things differently. The weather is not sovereign. Politicians are not in control. Cultural and economic changes do not have the final say. Instead, God providentially rules over all things: “The doctrine of providence is not a philosophical system but a confession of faith, the confession that, notwithstanding appearances, neither Satan nor a human being nor any other creature, but God and he alone—his almighty and everywhere present power—preserves and governs all things.” [2]

Which is why by verse 10 the battle is over. God speaks: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” God’s effortless and tranquil reign is the soothing balm that quiets our fretful hearts.

Living on this side of the cross, we can join our voices with the saints of old and affirm the truth of Psalm 46. God is indeed with us. But there’s more: Our Immanuel came to dwell with us (Matt. 1:23; Jn. 1:14) and promised that the Holy Spirit would indwell us (John 14:16)—the down payment of our future inheritance (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14).

Just think:

“The time is coming when [God’s people] shall assuredly see Him; they shall see Him who is infinitely greater than all the kings of the earth; they shall see Him face to face, shall see as much of His glory and beauty as the eyes of our souls are capable of beholding. They shall not only see Him for a few moments or an hour, but they shall dwell in His presence, and shall sit down forever to drink in the rays of His glory. They shall see Him invested in all His majesty, with smiles of love in His countenance. They shall see Him and converse with Him as their nearest and best Friend.” [3]

May the aroma of Psalm 46 rub its scent into our bones and fill us with confidence as we walk by faith and look forward to the heavenly city that awaits us.

Prayer: Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities, stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer [1552])


[1] Hans Boersma, Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2021), 64.

[2] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, God and Creation, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 619.

[3] Jonathan Edwards, “The Pure in Heart Blessed,” in Altogether Lovely: Jonathan Edwards on the Glory and Excellency of Jesus Christ, ed. Don Kistler (Orlando, FL: Soli Deo Gloria, 1997), 177.