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God’s Word for You

Psalm 46:1-3

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, March 21, 2015

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah.
According to alamoth. A song.

The Sons of Korah were Levites who survived the destruction of their family after Korah’s rebellion against Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 16). A few members of the family were spared (Numbers 26:11) and were later put in charge of the temple music by King David (1 Chronicles 6:31-38). Some members of the prophet Samuel’s descendants were also connected to this family.

The term alamoth might refer to high-pitched or tenor voices, to a key signature, or to an alternative way of producing a musical scale for a desired effect such as the Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, or Locrian modes. Since even the earliest translations of the Bible don’t agree on what this word meant, we can’t be certain about it, except to say that it was probably a musical term. Perhaps three thousand years from now, scholars will scratch their heads at the appearance of Italian words like da capo or fortissimo still used in our written sheet music.

1 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. (NIV)

This Psalm does not give any historical details that are precise enough to judge when it may have been written. Professor Brug has said that it fits the national crisis of the Assyrian invasion during the days of King Hezekiah and the Prophet Isaiah (2 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 36). Perhaps earlier attacks by the Arameans (2 Samuel 10) or Philistines (1 Samuel 4) might also have produced the background for this song.

When our personal worlds get thrown into disarray, states like uncertainty, worry and grief can make it seem like the whole world is falling apart and crashing into the sea. A single whispered word can sometimes seem like a mountain erupting into a volcano. A doctor’s honest words can make it seem as if the whole earth is giving way.

Yet when these things descend on us, there is God standing with us. He is, as the Psalm says, “a help in trouble.” The psalm writer adds the phrase nimtsah me’od, “found much,” which we translate “ever-present.” God is “found much” in every different kind of trouble. When we bring trouble onto ourselves with our sins, God is “found much” working toward our repentance, calling us back to him with his gospel. When our troubles are brought on by the presence of sin in the world hurling accidents, catastrophes, sickness or a hundred other troubles our way, then God is still there, “found much,” always with us. “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love” (2 John 3). He will not abandon us, but will be with us as our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

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