This Psalm teaches us about the benefits of hoping in the promises of G-d – hope that is not based upon our own desires but rooted in the truth/Word of G-d.
The inscription: The sons of Korah were Levites and therefore worshippers.
- Alamoth – according to many of the rabbinical commentators this was a musical instrument. This was a song sung to encourage the congregation of Israel to trust in G-d. Alamoth could also be referring to a righteous/G-dly women who would sing this publicly.
v1: G-d not only protects us (refuge) but He also defends us and empowers us. We are not always only protected from the enemy, but sometimes He gives us the power to overcome and defeat the enemy.
- Present help – G-d is with us, He is present, when trouble strikes.
- The word used for trouble here is in the plural, therefore means abundant trouble or great hardship.
v2: We will not fear when there is a time of transition/transformation/change. Change can bring about uncertainty. The earth changing and the mountains collapsing are monumental changes – a great transition into a new reality. But even then we need not fear as G-d is with us. The future is good for those of us who trust in G-d and rely on His promises – no matter what state the world is in.
v3: Roar – great noise and disturbance.
- Troubled waters are waters that are agitated or stirred up.
Selah is a word or sign that most of the commentators say is a word of pausing. So in the midst
of these things (great disturbance, mountains swelling etc) pause for a moment and realize that if such things are happening in this world G-d’s in it. He is not surprised by the change because He is orchestrating it/allowing it. If we are in G-d’s will and are committed to it we will not be surprised by these changes either. These cosmic changes are going to bring about a great outcome – the establishment of the Kingdom of G-d (see v4-5).
v4: The city of G-d is a reference to the Kingdom. A river is going to be found in the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:1-2)
- Holy – holy, in this verse, is an adjective describing what G-d is up to. He is transforming the world into a place of holiness through His Holy Spirit (often depicted as water – Is 44:3, John 7:37-39).
- Tabernacle – the dwelling place of G-d.
v5: Not be moved – she is not going to collapse.
- The darkest (and coldest) part of the night is just before the dawn breaks. In the midst of the thickest darkness, these difficult times when G-d seems the most remote, He is working to bring about something glorious!! It is at the darkest times of our lives that we have to truly believe that G-d will soon manifest His promises and they will be fulfilled.
- Break of dawn = light, revelation, illumination, seeing things properly.
v6: The nations – the inhabitants of the world.
- Rage – going to make a noise, going to be disturbed, in an uproar.
- Kingdoms were moved – they are going to collapse.
- Uttered His voice – this all comes about simply because G-d speaks. G-d’s word brings about a great change in this world.
v7: L-rd of hosts – ‘hosts’ is a military term, simply a word for an army/armies.
- If ‘Jacob’ means ‘deceiver’ (as we may have often heard) why would G-d take on His name? This is speaking about the G-d of the one who pursued the heritage, the character, the things of G-d.
v8: Come – this is a word for responding. We need to position ourselves in the right location so that we can see and respond appropriately to what G-d is up to – get the right vision of the activities of G-d. In this case we see G-d working to bring desolation to this earth – most scholars see this as a reference to judgement. G-d’s judgement is the necessary “ingredient” to bring about the change that we all desire – the establishment of His Kingdom.
v9: Cease – a word for stopping, resting – like on the Sabbath. The image here is that the world is going to be full of wars and conflicts before the Kingdom of G-d is established. This shouldn’t surprise us (Matt 24:6). G-d’s judgement is going to cause the cessation of wars, etc
- Bow, spear, chariots – weapons of war will be destroyed.
v10: Be still – it is a word of letting go (Exodus 14:13). It’s a word related to trust. We need to surrender and submit, by faith, to what G-d is doing. We cannot control anything. This letting go (submission) leads to knowledge.
- The term used for G-d here (Elohim) relates to G-d as a judge or supreme authority – He comes to put things into order. Through His judgement He is exalted.
- Nations – the people on the earth will exalt Him
- In the earth – All of creation will exalt Him.
It is very important for us to realise that G-d is going to be exalted by means of His judgment. That’s why it’s so important that we do not ignore judgment in the Scripture. Judgement leads to the vindication of the people of G-d.
v11: A repeat of verse 7.