The Psalms are nothing if not authentic to the vast array of human behaviors and emotions—fear, anger, sadness, joy, celebration. Some psalms plead to God for deliverance. Others celebrate that deliverance. Some complain, Woe is me! Others proclaim, I am blessed! Let’s face it, all of those sentiments and more are often contained in a single psalm. But the underlying theme is God’s presence with us no matter what.
Psalm 46, no matter its historical background, transcends a particular time and place to emphasize and celebrate the power of the presence of God with His people. But let’s do look at one possibility for the historical background of Psalm 46 to get a sense of how and under what circumstances God’s people praised and celebrated His abiding presence with them.
First, take a moment to read Psalm 46 in your favorite Bible translation.
One argument scholars have made for the context of Psalm 46 is the occasion of Sennacherib’s siege on Jerusalem during Hezekiah’s reign as king of Judah, the Southern Kingdom (2 Kings 18–19).
Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king, and he reigned 29 years. He was known for purifying the Temple of God and encouraging God’s people to worship the Lord (2 Chron. 29).
King Hezekiah was described as righteous because he trusted in the Lord and devoted God’s people to worshipping the Lord (2 Kings 18). It was because of Hezekiah’s faithfulness and leadership that God’s people were celebrating peace and prosperity even though the world around them was crumbling and their enemies were waging wars.
In Psalm 46:1–3, the psalmist recognizes the earth’s constant turmoil. In spite of natural disasters occurring around the world, God is with us.
Psalm 46:4–7 recognizes that God was with the people in Jerusalem. He provided them with all they needed. Whether it was a water source and tunnel system or the annihilation of enemy armies outside the city walls, the God of Angel Armies was with them.
In Psalm 46:8–11, the psalmist examines the aftermath of battle. God’s people claimed victory because the Lord was faithful to destroy their enemies and keep them safe. This is the missional moment in the psalm. When God’s people recognize and express how God is at work in them, other people will take notice and praise God.
The Psalms reflect the raw emotions. Sometimes they are not pretty. But they are so real. Today, it is important for Christians to share those raw emotions with one another. Sometimes church is not supposed to be a place where everything is pretty. Instead it should be real—real people sharing their real struggles and looking to a real God for refuge and strength.
Teenagers can see through fake and superficial people. They even seem annoyed and angry about it. They desire authenticity. Just look at the latest viral social media posts; they share the nitty gritty aspects of life and how to survive them. They celebrate emotional scars and overcoming the journey. The Psalms do that too!
In times of trouble, Psalm 46 reminds us to keep looking to God. Consider what crises in your life has brought you closer to God. Be prepared to share about your experiences in a crisis. Be real with students. Share your raw emotions. Acknowledge that God is an ever-present help. Point them to how exactly you know God helped you through a crisis. What about your experience could only be explained as a God-thing?
Libby Quigg enjoys writing for WMU and teaching children to play guitar. Her husband, Jesse, is also a musician and teaches high school students. They homeschool their three kids—Veni, Ocean, and Atlas. Libby’s passion is to connect with people—students and children as well as their families. She loves to encourage young moms.