A Word for Today | Psalm 46:1-3
Psalm 46 has inspired many Christians in times of trouble and danger. Martin Luther spent his life in constant peril because of the gospel and would turn his mind to this psalm when he was especially disheartened. His co-worker Philipp Melanchthon recalls Luther saying at such times, “Come, Philipp, let’s sing the forty-sixth Psalm.” Luther’s famous hymn version of it begins, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.”
The opening stanza speaks of great cataclysms that threaten destruction – the earth gives way, the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, the waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake and surge (Ps. 46:2-3). Nonetheless, with God as our fortress, the psalmist writes, “We will not fear.” Despite all these upheavals, there is one great fact that makes all the difference: “God is our refuge.” God protects and shields his people from harm. In ancient days, a fortress was a powerful protection. Behind its ramparts, enemies were not able to get through to bring harm. In the same way, God protects his people, so that even if our lives should be injured our souls are kept safe. Just to live near a fortress gave peace of mind; when trouble approached you could run for shelter. In the same way, simply reading these lines gives us a sense of peace and calm, for they tell us that God is near as our refuge and strength.
Many Christians attest to the fortress God is when tragedy strikes. Elizabeth Elliot’s first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed by the Auca Indians in Ecuador to whom he was trying to witness the gospel. Her second husband, Addison Leitch, died a slow and difficult death with cancer. Elisabeth spoke of both these tragedies in terms of Psalm 46:
“Everything that has seemed most dependable has given way. Mountains are falling, earth is receding. In such a time it is a profound comfort to know that although all things seem shaken, one thing is not: God is not shaken.”Elisabeth Elliot
If you find yourself anxious over the threat of pandemic – or, just as likely, over the effects of our nation’s shut-down in response to the Coronavirus – remember the opening lines of Psalm 46. Ask God to build a wall of faith around you, knowing that he is present with you in whatever may happen, and giving testimony to your confidence in him: “We will not fear.”
In Christ’s Love,
 Elisabeth Elliot, Facing the Death of Someone You Love (Westchester, Ill.: Good News Publishers, 1980), 8.