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Psalm chapter 46

New International Version

1 For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, '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 Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
English Standard Version

1 To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 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. Selah 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. 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. Selah 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. 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. Selah
King James Version

1 {To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth.} God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
New American Standard Bible

1 God is our refuge and strength, A very ready help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes And the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make the city of God happy, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth quaked. 7 The LORD of armies is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has inflicted horrific events on the earth. 9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 10 'Stop striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth.' 11 The LORD of armies is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
New Living Translation

1 For the choir director: A song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices. God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude
4 A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. 5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it. 6 The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts!
7 The LORD of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude
8 Come, see the glorious works of the LORD: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 'Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.'
11 The LORD of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude
Christian Standard Bible

1 God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble. 2 Therefore we will not be afraid, though the earth trembles and the mountains topple into the depths of the seas,
3 though its water roars and foams and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah 4 There is a river--its streams delight the city of God, the holy dwelling place of the Most High. 5 God is within her; she will not be toppled. God will help her when the morning dawns. 6 Nations rage, kingdoms topple; the earth melts when he lifts his voice.
7 The LORD of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah 8 Come, see the works of the LORD, who brings devastation on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease throughout the earth. He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces; he sets wagons ablaze. 10 "Stop your fighting, and know that I am God, exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth."
11 The LORD of Armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah

What does Psalm chapter 46 mean?

Psalm 46 emphasizes two main truths about God: His strength and His established presence. This leads to the natural responses of trust and thanksgiving. Scholars are unclear if any unique event inspired this psalm. However, some phrases in this passage resemble those found in the writings of Isaiah. He was the prophet during the reign of Hezekiah, who saw God miraculously save Israel from an Assyrian siege (2 Kings 18—19). The reference to secure water also hints at Hezekiah's choice to create a siege-proof water supply for the city. This leads to speculation that this psalm was written, or commissioned, by Hezekiah. This would imply this psalm is not attributed "to" the Sons of Korah, but rather was written "for" them to use in worship. Scripture does not explicitly say so. Thus, the exact background for this psalm is unknown.

Most of this psalm speaks from the perspective of the people of Israel. The song begins with strong statements about God's protective power and availability. A "refuge," in Hebrew, is similar to the term "shelter:" a place of safety away from a particular danger. Likewise, the original Hebrew more naturally implies that God is "very present" in the sense that He has proven His ability to see and care for Israel. He is not hard to see, or to perceive, but is near and accessible. That should inspire trust, rather than fear. Modern English might speak of "being in a tight spot," which is very close to the meaning of the term translated "trouble" in this psalm (Psalm 46:1).

That established trust means His people can—or, at least, should—feel no fear, even in the face of catastrophe or disaster. Even the most frightening natural disasters are nothing compared to the power of an omnipotent God (Psalm 46:2–3).

In comparison to the raging, stumbling attitude of cultures who reject God, those who trust in Him have a constant, flowing resource in His presence (Revelation 22:1–2). Verse 5 is often applied out of context, used as a guarantee of God's protection of women, or His sympathy for women experiencing stress. Reassurance by trusting in God is good for all people, of course. However, the "she" mentioned in this passage is the city of Jerusalem. As the commander of the armies of heaven, and the One who promised to be with the descendants of Jacob, God can be fully trusted by His people (Psalm 46:4–7).

At some point in earthly history, God will fully end all war and fighting. Anyone attempting to fight against God should stop their tantrums and release their anger. Those who trust in God should let go of anxiety or doubt. In other words, both, as commanded here, should "be still," and trust in the truth of who God is. Verse 10 is another often-misapplied verse, sometimes used to support silence or contemplation. A restful trust in God is biblical (Matthew 11:30; Hebrews 4:9–10), but the main point of this passage is to end striving by relying on the strength of God (Psalm 46:8–11).

This passage makes use of the term se'lāh, which has an unclear meaning, though it appears in many psalms. It likely suggests a musical pause. Similarly, the reference to Alamoth (1 Chronicles 15:20) appears to define a style of musical performance.