The psalmist, in the midst of pain and suffering and waiting for God to rescue him, cries out to God in Psalm 44, appealing to his unfailing love. In response, God answers with a wedding song in Psalm 45 about their eventual betrothal and life together. If that description is accurate, then it’s possible that Psalm 46 is best read as a bride’s song about all her groom has done for her. However, I don’t think this song is about events occurring at the time of writing or in the near future, rather, it’s possible this song declares God’s work at the end of time before the final wedding supper of Christ and his bride, the church.
Psalm 46 begins rather simply, as many other psalms do, with praise of God:
1) God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
This bridal song of praise, in the context of the preceding psalms, sings of the groom as a refuge and help in times of trouble. But, as we will see in the following verses, it also sings of future times.
2) Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
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.
While this could certainly refer to any time of upheaval, it is interesting to read similar language in Revelation used to describe God’s future judgment upon the earth. Rev. 8:8 says “something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea,” and Rev. 16:17-21 describes “lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake” such that “no earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.” As a result, “every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.” Fearful times to be sure, but like the end-times, hope is found in the midst of 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 be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
While the city described could be historical or modern Jerusalem, it seems more likely that it’s a picture of the New Jerusalem, “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” as mentioned in Rev. 21:9-10. It is in this city we find “flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal” watering the tree of life whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations.” (Rev. 22:1-2) In the midst of turmoil, all hope for reconciliation flows from the throne of God which sits in the holy city, God’s dwelling place. And he himself will be with his bride, as Rev. 21:3 tells of a “loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people.” But God does not only live with his bride, he metes out justice upon the nations.
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.
The words of the psalmist are vaguely reminiscent of words used by Peter who described the day of the Lord in II Peter 3:10-13, “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” But it’s not only the earth that is laid bare, war itself is conquered by God.
8) Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
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.
This description of the great and final battle bringing all wars to an end is strikingly similar to that found in Revelation 20:8 and echoed in Ezekiel 39:1-6 about the Lord’s battle against Gog and Magog. Those living in Israel will find “the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. (And) For seven years they will use them for fuel.” Literally, as the Sons of Korah described, the war implements of this final battle fuel fires.
Whether the Sons of Korah knew of the future implication of what they wrote, I don’t know. But I am certain they knew the coming groom, the Lord, would be exalted over all nations, subduing every force of evil, and rescuing his bride from the trials of this life once and for all. The practical question for today is whether we can see through our present trials to the coming of the groom and say with the Sons of Korah,
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.