God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1 (NIV2011)
John Calvin believed that this psalm was written when King Hezekiah (king of Judah) was surrounded by the Assyria army led by king Sennacherib. Forty‑six towns and villages in Judah had been ravaged. Over 200,000 residents had been taken captive, along with much spoil. At least 185,000 troops surrounded Jerusalem, and it looked like only a matter of time before the city fell into enemy hands.
As far the Assyria’s believed the battle was already won, but they did not count on the fact that Hezekiah would cry out to the living God. God spoke, and in one night the angel of the Lord defeated the large Assyria army by killing 185,000 of its soldiers (2 Kings 18‑19; 2 Chronicles 32; Isaiah 36‑37).
This Psalm reminds us that God is our refuge and strength, but this does not mean that we are immune from troubles and problems. The Bible teaches no such thing. It teaches that God is our help in trouble, not that He will exempt us from trouble.
This Psalm mentions some of the worldwide troubles which we still face today, these are not unique to the ungodly, but affect all peoples:
- global changes (46:2),
- severe earthquakes and storms (46:2‑3),
- and wars (46:6, 9).
In Hebrews 11, known as the great chapter of faith, they write lists all sorts of trail that God’s people face.
…There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. – Hebrews 11:35-38
This psalm encourages us to put our hope and trust in God. To be confident in his power, presence and providence even in the worst of times. In life, we will face hardships: ill health, the death of a loved one, unemployment, mental health issues, relational conflicts, and so on, yet we are reminded we are never alone. Depending on self we are likely to break, but we are called to depend on God as our refuge. When it looks like all is lost, look unto God, He will never fail you. Put your hope in Him.