A Psalm of Trust.

Comforting verses are often quoted out of context. Think of Philippians 4:13 or Lamentations 3:22-23. The context of these verses does not diminish their impact; it actually enriches our understanding of the comfort they provide. Psalm 46:10 is one of those familiar verses.

In Psalm 46, God is fighting. He fights for Himself and His people. God's people were facing difficulty and hostility; they were in distress and tempted to fight for themselves rather than let God be God. This is psalm illustrates the security provided to those who trust. The writer highlights two circumstances in which God can and must be trusted.

God’s People Must Trust Him in the Face of Natural Evil (Psalm 46:1-3)

In verse 1, God is described as a refuge and a strength, a defense and protection. “Ever-present” means a proven help. God consistently comes to the aid of His people.

The poetic language of verses 2-3 describes terrible, earth-shattering events. However, the writer says “we will not fear.” He is not saying these events are not very bad; but God’s ever-present help is bigger than those. Without God, we should fear.

Verse 5 contrasts a shaking earth with the city of God which “will not be shaken.” God and not circumstances is the focus; God’s presence is the root of our trust. The presence of God can be trusted in the face of calamities.

God’s People Must Trust Him in the Face of Moral Evil (Psalm 46:4-6)

In these verses, the nations rise up against God and His people. In the face of moral evil, God is our personal stronghold. Verse 7 and 11 is like a chorus which gives us the point of Psalm 46. The word “stronghold” is a different word than “refuge” in verse 1. This word talks about the strong quality of the refuge. It is a high place that provides a secure retreat.

God’s People Must Trust Him to Overcome Evil (Psalm 46:8-11)

Neither types of evil can be avoided. As we encounter them, God’s people can be confident of His presence and that He will overcome all evil.

In these verses, God creates peace because He wins. The aftermath of the battle is indeed desolate for those who oppose Him.

In verse 10, our God who will defend His people asserts His divine authority. The command is to stop striving against Him. Moses makes a similar statement in Exodus 14:13-14. At the end of history, Jesus will come as the undisputed King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:11-16). We look forward to that day!

We must acknowledge that the objective is for God to be exalted. These verses are unique in the Psalms because God is the speaker. There’s a great amount of comfort in these verses when things seem to be spinning out of control. If we’re honest, we all have lashed out or “strived” against the Lord. We must realize that circumstances we don’t like are working out to His glory and exaltation. This is something bigger and better than our moments of understanding.

The strongholds we erect as a replacement for trusting God are cheap substitutes that will not last. The beautiful thing is that God’s plan is not just to destroy His enemies; it is to convert them into His children!

Application Points

  • Has your life been a wrestling match with God? Today can be the day when you no longer wrestle but finally submit, because you know He loves you and wants to make you His child. Acknowledge Him as God and turn from your own way. Trust in Jesus’ payment for your sin and make Him your lord.
  • Are there areas in your life where you are striving against God? Has His will been made clear in a situation, but you have a problem with it? Stop striving. Know that He is God, and trust Him.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Psalm 2:1-3, 14:1-4 – the nations rise up against God and His people.
  • Genesis 32:24-32 – Jacob literally wrestles with God.
A Hymn to Encourage: "A Mighty Fortress"

A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he, amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
does seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right Man on our side,
the Man of God's own choosing.
You ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth his name,
from age to age the same;
and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God has willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The prince of darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo! his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever!