In times of great difficulty, we often feel like the ground is shaking beneath our feet. It may seem like the world is collapsing around us. Nevertheless, there is one sure foundation that will never be moved—found in God Himself.
In Psalm 46, the author found himself in such an earthshaking time of upheaval. He wrote, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride (verses 2-3).
The exact background of these verses is unknown, but we do know it was a time of a threatening national crisis. We know this because the psalm says, “God is our refuge,” and verse 2, “we will not fear.” These plural words, “we” and “our,” indicate this catastrophe is not just personal and individual, but is a corporate trial. In the historical context, Jerusalem was surrounded by encroaching foreign armies that threatened its very existence.
The rest of the psalm makes this clear: “The nations made an uproar,” but God intervened and “kingdoms”—or nations—“tottered (verse 6).” God destroyed their “bow,” “spear,” and “chariots” (verse 9). As a result, He will be exalted among “the nations” (verse 10). So, this is a time in which the psalmist leads the people of God in giving glory to Him for delivering them from these invading foreign powers.
In every hour of history, believers have found themselves in similar calamities and difficulties––sometimes on a national level, always on a personal level. In these troubling times, we must always turn to the Lord, who alone controls the affairs of providence. Ultimately, only He can deliver any nation from the threatening circumstances it faces. Likewise, the same is true on the individual level.
“Therefore We Will Not Fear”
In the midst of this ordeal, the psalmist announces that he is unafraid: “Therefore we will not fear.” The word “therefore” points back to the previous verse that stated God is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (verse 1). If God is this to His people, then why should they fear? The answer is: they should not.
The psalmist declares, “we will not fear” (verse 2). This is the most positive negative statement that he could have made. It is an emphatic statement—a bold declaration of strong confidence in the Lord. No matter what they will face, they will not live in dread. God is in the heavens, and He remains in control of their outcome. Therefore, they will remain confident and calm. They will stay filled with the supernatural peace that only God can provide.
This was the same testimony that David gave earlier when he stated, “O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me” (Psalm 3:1). In the face of this opposition, he anchored his trust in the Lord. Therefore, he could say, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me, round about (verse 6).” With his faith in God, it did not matter what raged against him. God is greater than anything that would threaten him.
Again, David gave a similar testimony, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For You are with me” (Psalm 23:4). In this life-threatening trial, he announced that he would not fear, because God was with him.
David once more confessed the same, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). This is a rhetorical question requiring the clear answer—no one. If the Lord is his deliverance, David reasons, “I will fear no one.” He adds, “The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? (Verse 1). Once again, the answer is, he needs to fear no one—not if the Lord is the defense of his life. “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear” (verse 3). This is his firm confidence.
The same is true for all believers today. As we look at the world around us, there is much that would cause us to fear. But when we look upward to the throne of God, we have reason to be confident and calm. As we look to the Lord, we can trust that He is causing all things to work together for our good. Though the outlook may be bleak, the look up is always bright.
Where do you find yourself as you read these words? Though your world may be collapsing around you, you can remain strong in the grace of God. No matter what trials you may be facing, you can remain triumphant through your faith in God.
“Though The Earth Should Change”
The psalmist next says “though” four consecutive times. By this repetition, he is driving home this point. “Though the earth should change (verse 2).” This is a poetic way of representing the troubling circumstances he is facing. These are unfolding affairs that were threatening to drastically alter his way of life.
Every one of us can easily see ourselves in this psalm. We all encounter times in which our very existence has been shaken and turned upside down.
“Though The Mountains Slip”
The psalmist then says, “And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea” (verse 2). Here, he uses another picturesque way of portraying their earth-shaking circumstances. This expresses times of turmoil, situations in which their world is on the verge of crashing down. Everything that was once stable is about to no longer be stable. Everything that was once upright may soon collapse. Nothing is left standing.
In our day, the economy may crash. The stock market may collapse. Your retirement portfolio may shrink. When the mountains around you slip into the sea, it is as though your life is imploding. We all will face such difficult times in our fallen world.
“Though Its Waters Roar and Foam”
The psalmist added, “Though its waters roar and foam” (verse 3). Here is a further picture of the troubling times they were facing. The reason these “waters roar and foam” is because the mountains have collapsed into the sea. This massive landslide creates enormous tidal waves. As the surrounding landscape has crumbled, it has produced this upheaval.
This is what our lives can resemble with the turbulent trials we face. They can create unsettled emotions within us. They can produce fear and panic. They can cause us to think we are sinking in despair.
“Though The Mountains Quake”
The psalmist adds one more vivid image, “Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” (verse 3). This again represents the devastating circumstances they were facing and the seismic aftershock they felt. The mountains that quake convey the idea that everything is out of control. “Its swelling pride” means these mountains were once erect and standing strong. They represent where confidence once was. In the wake of this disaster, this confidence has been reduced to rubble at ground zero.
Though all this difficulty occurs in his life, the psalmist says, “I will not be moved.” Though his world is in upheaval, he emphatically declares he will not be moved. The Lord is his refuge and strength.
This testimony of the psalmist needs to be your testimony. Though you lose your job, and though a loved one is lying on his deathbed, you need not fear. If the Lord is your refuge and your strength, you will not be shaken. Only believers in Jesus Christ can know this security. Only those who have put their trust in Him, though the whole world may be imploding, can rightly say, “I will not fear.”
May this be your testimony today and throughout your life.