New English Translation
For the music director, by the Korahites; according to the alamoth style;[b] a song.
46 God is our strong refuge;[c]
he is truly our helper in times of trouble.[d]
2 For this reason we do not fear[e] when the earth shakes,[f]
and the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea,[g]
3 when its waves[h] crash[i] and foam,
and the mountains shake[j] before the surging sea.[k] (Selah)
4 The river’s channels bring joy to the city of God,[l]
the special, holy dwelling place of[m] the Most High.[n]
5 God lives within it,[o] it cannot be moved.[p]
God rescues it[q] at the break of dawn.[r]
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms are overthrown.[s]
God[t] gives a shout,[u] the earth dissolves.[v]
7 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is on our side.[w]
The God of Jacob[x] is our stronghold.[y] (Selah)
8 Come, Witness the exploits[z] of the Lord,
who brings devastation to the earth.[aa]
9 He brings an end to wars throughout the earth.[ab]
He shatters[ac] the bow and breaks[ad] the spear;
he burns[ae] the shields with fire.[af]
10 He says,[ag] “Stop your striving and recognize[ah] that I am God.
I will be exalted[ai] over[aj] the nations! I will be exalted over[ak] the earth!”
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is on our side![al]
The God of Jacob[am] is our stronghold![an] (Selah)
- Psalm 46:1 sn Psalm 46. In this so-called “Song Of Zion” God’s people confidently affirm that they are secure because the great warrior-king dwells within Jerusalem and protects it from the nations that cause such chaos in the earth. A refrain (vv. 7, 11) concludes the song’s two major sections.
- Psalm 46:1 sn The meaning of the Hebrew term עֲלָמוֹת (‘alamot, alamoth, which means “young women”) is uncertain; perhaps it refers to a particular style of music. Cf. 1 Chr 15:20.
- Psalm 46:1 tn Heb “our refuge and strength,” which is probably a hendiadys meaning “our strong refuge” (see Ps 71:7). Another option is to translate, “our refuge and source of strength.”
- Psalm 46:1 tn Heb “a helper in times of trouble he is found [to be] greatly.” The perfect verbal form has a generalizing function here. The adverb מְאֹד (meʾod, “greatly”) has an emphasizing function.
- Psalm 46:2 tn The imperfect is taken in a generalizing sense (cf. NEB) because the situation described in vv. 2-3 is understood as symbolizing typical world conditions. In this case the imperfect draws attention to the typical nature of the response. The covenant community characteristically responds with confidence, not fear. Another option is to take the situation described as purely hypothetical. In this case one might translate, “We will not fear, even though the earth should shake” (cf. NIV, NRSV).
- Psalm 46:2 tn The Hiphil infinitival form is normally taken to mean “when [the earth] is altered,” being derived from מוּר (mur, “to change”). In this case the Hiphil would be intransitive, as in Ps 15:4. HALOT 560 s.v. II מור emends the form to a Niphal and derives it from a homonymic root מוּר attested in Arabic with the meaning “shake.”
- Psalm 46:2 tn Heb “heart of the seas.” The plural may be used for emphasis, pointing to the deepest sea. Note that the next verse uses a singular pronoun (“its waters,” “its swelling”) in referring back to the plural noun.
- Psalm 46:3 tn Heb “its waters.”
- Psalm 46:3 tn Or “roar.”
- Psalm 46:3 tn The three imperfect verbal forms in v. 3 draw attention to the characteristic nature of the activity described.
- Psalm 46:3 tn Heb “at its swelling.” The Hebrew word often means “pride.” If the sea is symbolic of hostile nations, then this may be a case of double entendre. The surging, swelling sea symbolizes the proud, hostile nations. On the surface the psalmist appears to be depicting a major natural catastrophe, perhaps a tidal wave. If so, then the situation would be hypothetical. However, the repetition of the verbs הָמָה (hamah, “crash; roar,” v. 3) and מוֹט (mot, “shake,” v. 2) in v. 6, where nations/kingdoms “roar” and “shake,” suggests that the language of vv. 2-3 is symbolic and depicts the upheaval that characterizes relationships between the nations of the earth. As some nations (symbolized by the surging, chaotic waters) show hostility, others (symbolized by the mountains) come crashing down to destruction. The surging waters are symbolic of chaotic forces in other poetic texts (see, for example, Isa 17:12; Jer 51:42) and mountains can symbolize strong kingdoms (see, for example, Jer 51:25).
- Psalm 46:4 tn Heb “A river, its channels cause the city of God to be glad.”sn The city of God is Jerusalem (see Pss 48:1-2; 87:2-3). The river’s “channels” are probably irrigation ditches vital to growing crops. Some relate the imagery to the “waters of Shiloah” (see Isa 8:6), which flowed from the Gihon spring to the pool of Siloam. In Isa 8:6-8 these waters are contrasted with the flood waters symbolizing Assyria. Even if this is the reality behind the imagery, the picture of a river flowing through Jerusalem is idealized and exaggerated. The river and irrigation ditches symbolize the peace and prosperity that the Lord provides for Jerusalem, in contrast to the havoc produced by the turbulent waters (symbolic of the nations) outside the city. Some see here an adaptation of Canaanite (or, more specifically, Jebusite) mythical traditions of rivers/springs flowing from the high god El’s dwelling place. The Songs of Zion do utilize such imagery at times (see Ps 48:2). The image of a river flowing through Zion may have inspired prophetic visions of an eschatological river flowing from the temple (see Ezek 47:1-12; Joel 3:18).
- Psalm 46:4 tn Heb “the holy [place] of the dwelling places of.” The adjective “holy” is used here in a substantival manner and placed in construct with the following noun (see GKC 428 §132.c). Origen’s transliterated text assumes the reading קֹדֶשׁ (qodesh, “holiness; holy place”), while the LXX assumes a Piel verbal form קִדֵּשׁ (qiddesh, “makes holy”) and takes the following form as “his dwelling place.” The plural form מִשְׁכְּנֵי (mishkene, “dwelling places of”) is probably a plural of degree, emphasizing the special character of this dwelling place. See GKC 397 §124.b. The form stands as an appositional genitive in relation to the preceding construct noun.
- Psalm 46:4 sn The divine title “Most High” (עֶלְיוֹן, ʿelyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Pss 7:17; 9:2; 18:13; 21:7; 47:2.
- Psalm 46:5 tn Heb “God [is] within her.” The feminine singular pronoun refers to the city mentioned in v. 4.
- Psalm 46:5 tn Another option is to translate the imperfect verbal form as future, “it will not be moved.” Even if one chooses this option, the future tense must be understood in a generalizing sense. The verb מוֹט (mot) is used in v. 2 of the mountains “tumbling” into the seas and in v. 6 of nations being “overthrown.” By way of contrast, Jerusalem, God’s dwelling place, is secure and immune from such turmoil and destruction.
- Psalm 46:5 tn Or “helps her.” The imperfect draws attention to the generalizing character of the statement.
- Psalm 46:5 tn Heb “at the turning of morning.” (For other uses of the expression see Exod 14:27 and Judg 19:26).sn At the break of dawn. The “morning” is viewed metaphorically as a time of deliverance and vindication after the dark “night” of trouble (see Ps 30:5; Isa 17:14). There may be an allusion here to Exod 14:27 (where the Lord destroyed the Egyptians at the “break of dawn”) or, more likely, to the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege, when the people discovered the dead bodies of the Assyrian army in the morning (Isa 37:36).
- Psalm 46:6 tn Heb “nations roar, kingdoms shake.” The Hebrew verb הָמָה (hamah, “roar, be in uproar”) is used in v. 3 of the waves crashing, while the verb מוֹט (mot, “overthrown”) is used in v. 2 of mountains tumbling into the sea (see also v. 5, where the psalm affirms that Jerusalem “cannot be moved”). The repetition of the verbs suggests that the language of vv. 2-3 is symbolic and depicts the upheaval that characterizes relationships between the nations of the earth. As some nations (symbolized by the surging, chaotic waters) show hostility, others (symbolized by the mountains) come crashing down to destruction. The surging waters are symbolic of chaotic forces in other poetic texts (see, for example, Isa 17:12; Jer 51:42) and mountains can symbolize strong kingdoms (see, for example, Jer 51:25).
- Psalm 46:6 tn Heb “He.” God is the obvious referent here (see v. 5), and has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Psalm 46:6 tn Heb “offers his voice.” In theophanic texts the phrase refers to God’s thunderous shout which functions as a battle cry (see Pss 18:13; 68:33).
- Psalm 46:6 tn Or “melts.” See Amos 9:5. The image depicts the nation’s helplessness before Jerusalem’s defender, who annihilates their armies (see vv. 8-9). The imperfect verbal form emphasizes the characteristic nature of the action described.
- Psalm 46:7 tn Heb “the Lord of hosts is with us.” The title “Lord of hosts” here pictures the Lord as a mighty warrior-king who leads armies into battle (see Ps 24:10). The military imagery is further developed in vv. 8-9.
- Psalm 46:7 tn That is, Israel, or Judah (see Ps 20:1).
- Psalm 46:7 tn Heb “our elevated place” (see Pss 9:9; 18:2).
- Psalm 46:8 sn In this context the Lord’s exploits are military in nature (see vv. 8b-9).
- Psalm 46:8 tn Heb “who sets desolations in the earth” (see Isa 13:9). The active participle describes God’s characteristic activity as a warrior.
- Psalm 46:9 tn Heb “[the] one who causes wars to cease unto the end of the earth.” The participle continues the description begun in v. 8b and indicates that this is the Lord’s characteristic activity. Ironically, he brings peace to the earth by devastating the warlike, hostile nations (vv. 8, 9b).
- Psalm 46:9 tn The verb שָׁבַר (shavar, “break”) appears in the Piel here (see Ps 29:5). In the OT it occurs thirty-six times in the Piel, always with multiple objects (the object is either a collective singular or grammatically plural or dual form). The Piel may highlight the repetition of the pluralative action, or it may suggest an intensification of action, indicating repeated action comprising a whole, perhaps with the nuance “break again and again, break in pieces.” Another option is to understand the form as resultative: “make broken” (see IBHS 404-7 §24.3). The imperfect verbal form carries on and emphasizes the generalizing nature of the description.
- Psalm 46:9 tn The perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive carries along the generalizing emphasis of the preceding imperfect.
- Psalm 46:9 tn The imperfect verbal form carries on and emphasizes the generalizing nature of the description.
- Psalm 46:9 tn Heb “wagons he burns with fire.” Some read “chariots” here (cf. NASB), but the Hebrew word refers to wagons or carts, not chariots, elsewhere in the OT. In this context, where military weapons are mentioned, it is better to revocalize the form as עֲגִלוֹת (ʿagilot, “round shields”), a word which occurs only here in the OT, but is attested in later Hebrew and Aramaic.
- Psalm 46:10 tn The words “he says” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
- Psalm 46:10 tn Heb “do nothing/be quiet (see 1 Sam 15:16) and know.” This statement may be addressed to the hostile nations, indicating they should cease their efforts to destroy God’s people, or to Judah, indicating they should rest secure in God’s protection. Since the psalm is an expression of Judah’s trust and confidence, it is more likely that the words are directed to the nations, who are actively promoting chaos and are in need of a rebuke.
- Psalm 46:10 tn Elsewhere in the psalms the verb רוּם (rum, “be exalted”) when used of God, refers to his exalted position as king (Pss 18:46; 99:2; 113:4; 138:6) and/or his self-revelation as king through his mighty deeds of deliverance (Pss 21:13; 57:5, 11).
- Psalm 46:10 tn Or “among.”
- Psalm 46:10 tn Or “in.”
- Psalm 46:11 tn Heb “the Lord of hosts is with us.” The title “Lord of hosts” here pictures the Lord as a mighty warrior-king who leads armies into battle (see Ps 24:10). The military imagery is further developed in vv. 8-9.
- Psalm 46:11 tn That is, Israel, or Judah (see Ps 20:1).
- Psalm 46:11 tn Heb “our elevated place” (see Pss 9:9; 18:2).