Psalm 46, Charles Spurgeon Commentary
To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Song upon Alamoth. This Psalm is often called “Martin Luther’s Psalm.” Whenever there was any great trouble, Luther used to say, “Let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm together, and then let the devil do his worst.” This is the Psalm, too, from which Mr. John Wesley preached in Hyde Park, at the time of a great earthquake. While the earth was shaking, and there was a great tempest, Mr. Wesley preached from the second verse: “ Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
All creatures have their places of refuge. “ As for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.” All men also have their places of refuge, though some are “refuges of lies.” But God is our refuge and strength,” the omnipotence of Jehovah is pledged for the defense and support of his people. “A very present help in trouble,”-one who is near at hand; always near, but nearest when he is most needed. Not much entreaty is required to bring him to the aid of his people, for he is close at hand and close at heart, “a very present help in trouble.”
Here we have, you perceive, a mention of the greatest convulsions of nature, yet the believer fears not. Doubtless, too, these verses are intended to be a picture of the great convulsions that take place in the providential dealings of God. States and kingdoms that seem to be as solid as the earth will one day be removed. Dynasties that seem as fixed and firm as mountains may soon be swept away into the sea of oblivion. We may have famine, and war, and pestilence, and anarchy, until the whole earth shall seem to be like the sea in a great storm; yea, hope may fail with many and the stoutest hearts may shake at the swelling thereof; yet, let the worst come to the worst, God’s people are still safe. As one old writer saith, “Though God should, to use his words concerning Jerusalem, wipe the earth as a man wipes a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down, yea, though he should break it into a thousand shivers, yet need not his people fear; for, if he does not protect them under heaven, he will take them up to be with him in heaven.” If heaven and earth could be mingled together, and chaos could return, yet still, as long as God is God, there is no use for the believer to fear.
We may well pause, and renew our confidence in the God who never has failed us, and who never will fail any who trust him.
Whatever river may have been in the psalmist’s mind, it was the symbol of sovereign grace, flowing freshly and freely from the sacred fountain of eternal love, to make glad the people of God. And now we have the inspired Book, we have the preached Word, we have the many precious promises, we have the blessed Spirit himself, and all these make a glorious river, the streams whereof “make glad the deity of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.”
The Hebrew expression is, “at the turning of the morning,” our marginal reading gives it, “when the morning appeareth.” “God shall help her at the turning of the morning.” At that period when the night is the blackest, just before the light begins to come, then shall God help his Church. Child of God, this promise is to you also. When the night gets thickest, and the gloom is the heaviest, then God shall help you “at the turning of the morning.” He may tarry for a while, but he will tarry no longer than is wise. You shall find, in looking back upon God’s dealings with you, that, although he sometimes seemed to be long in coming to your help and you cried out, “Lord, how long?” yet, after all, he did help you, and that “right early,” too.
God hath but to speak, and his stoutest foe shall dissolve like snow when the sun shineth upon it.
Here the psalmist invites us to behold what God has done in the past. He has desolated the desolaters, and destroyed the destroyers. War has been a terrible scourge to mankind, but our God is Master even over war. When I look at the old ruined castles all over our land, I cannot help saying to myself and others too, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth,” and when I stumble upon some broken-down abbeys, and monasteries, and Popish cathedrals, I can but wish that there were more of them, that we might see many such desolations which the Lord hath made in the earth. He will get the victory over all his foes, and break all his adversaries in pieces, however long he may wait before putting forth his great power in judgment upon them.
Here is the command, and here is the reason which will help us to obey it. Judge not the Lord hastily; murmur not at his providential dealings with you. Be not hurrying and scurrying hither and thither, but “be still.” In silence and in confidence shall be your strength. “Be still, and know that I am God:”-
10. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
If God is willing to wait, you need not be impatient. His time is the best time, and he will be exalted in due time.
11. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.