This song is all about how God calms the storms of life. The first three verses say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” It ends with instruction to the musicians, “Selah.” Although the exact meaning is a bit obscure it seems to be a call for a shift in the music or a pause. Either way it’s intended to emphasize what was just sung. I like to think of it as an exhortation to stop and think about it!

Psalm 46 is famous as the inspiration for Martin Luther’s stirring hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” He’s indeed a bulwark never failing! Its majestic and thunderous proclamation of our faith is a singing symbol of the reformation. Luther caught up in the hymn the very essence of faith, and the fervor and flavor of patriotism which he found in the Psalm. Long ago in the fourteenth century when Sergius the hermit was leading his countrymen, and Tartar hordes were overrunning his land, this Psalm was a source of strength and courage. Over and over, the hermit recited Psalm 46 and then led his revived men in a charge that drove the invaders back and brought ultimate victory.

Throughout the ages men have been stirred by the realization that the Eternal God is available to them and that nothing, literally nothing, can overwhelm or destroy a person when they live in this faith. Verse 10 is the very familiar instruction to “Be still and know that I am God.” No matter what the storm we face, God is there! Selah! Be still and let that truth sink in!

“We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it. And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:6-7)