Psalm 46 Study Notes


Ps 46 title On sons of Korah, see note at Ps 42 title. Alamoth also occurs in 1Ch 15:20 and is used in the same way to designate a song. It is similar to at least part of the title in Ps 9 that reads Muth-labben. Except for the labben the rest is essentially the same. However, what is the same would read something like “concerning death,” which certainly does not fit the content of this psalm. Suggested renderings include “maidens” (Aquila and Jerome) and “hidden things” (LXX).

46:1 This psalm is the basis for the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

46:2-3 Trembling earth and quaking mountains represent unsettling motion in parts of nature that are supposed to be stable (see note at 18:7-15). The water, which God restrained at creation, here threatens to become chaotic again (see notes at 29:3-4,10-11).

46:4 The river here is difficult to identify precisely. It does not appear to be a literal river in Jerusalem, unless it refers to something like Hezekiah’s tunnel. Instead, it seems more likely to refer to God’s presence and blessings that fill Jerusalem and flow to other nations (Zch 14:8).

46:5 The strength of Jerusalem was not in its fortified walls but in the Lord who was its “stronghold” (vv. 7,11; Jl 3:16; Zph 3:15).

46:6 Nations rage is reminiscent of the rebellion of the nations against the Lord and his anointed (2:1). However, the parallel of kingdoms topple indicates that it probably refers to the common experience of wars between nations and kingdoms rising and falling. But the final command in v. 10 may indicate that these wars were still an affront to God. The earth melts probably symbolizes fear at the voice of God (Ex 15:15; Is 14:31).

46:7 On Lord of Armies, see note at 24:7-10.

46:8-11 The Lord is in absolute control of all warfare as well as peace among nations. The final command, stop your fighting, is probably addressed to the nations to stop their hostilities, which were ultimately directed against God (2:10).