Psalm 46: Our God is With Us and He is a Mighty Fortress
In 1527, ten years after the start of the Reformation Martin Luther, inspired by Psalm 46 wrote the lyrics to a song that has been sung by the people of God for almost 500 years: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” This rich song was Luther’s attempt to put into words the blessed truth that the Psalmist is declaring: Our God is a sure and certain refuge and He is always present with His people.
Psalm 46 powerfully and effectively conveys this truth: No matter what happens, no matter what life brings, we are safe in the care of God. Even when the earth falls out from under our feet; even when chaos surrounds us; God is our refuge, our protector and our safe shelter.
The Structure of the Psalm - Psalm 46 is a Psalm of Confidence and consists of three refrains. Each refrain has three elements: A statement of confidence declaring God’s protection and presence, (2) a description of God’s care in the midst of trouble and (3) a call to stop and reflect, Selah.
After listening to the sermon consider using this reading plan to further meditate on the content of the message.
Overview of this Week’s Reading - Understanding the Psalm’s Reference to The God of Jacob
In Psalm 46 there are two instances where the Psalmist refers to God as the God of Jacob; in verses 7 and 11 the Psalmist celebrates that the God of Jacob is our fortress. As we consider the many fathers of the faith who preceded the Psalmist the question can be asked, what is it about God’s relationship with Jacob that the Psalmist wants us to consider in this context? Or, to broaden the question, why not refer to the God of Noah or the God of Abraham or the God of Isaac or the God of Moses? Why the God of Jacob?
While the Psalmist doesn’t explain his use of this title (God of Jacob) as we consider Jacob’s story and his relationship with God there are certainly some themes that rise to the top that may provide some insight into what the Psalmist is trying to convey.
As we read the story of Jacob there are two seemingly conflicting themes that are repeated throughout the Biblical account: (1) Jacob’s repeated instances of selfishness, deceit and manipulation and (2) God’s choice and blessing of Jacob and His covenant faithfulness to him. These two themes may seem contradictory, but they reveal lot about God’s mercy and His faithful pursuit of His chosen people. The God of Jacob is a God who has chosen a people for Himself and this choice is not based on human merit. Despite Jacob’s deceitful ways, God pursues him, shows mercy to him, and blesses him.
So as we read in Psalm 46 that the God of Jacob is our fortress we should hear this: There is a God who has chosen a people for Himself, a people who are sinful and stubborn and yet He shows them mercy and faithfully keeps His promises to them; this God, the God of Jacob, is our safe shelter, our refuge, our fortress.
Arthur Pink writes this about Jacob’s life and the use of the title, the God of Jacobin Psalm 46: To sum up: God took Jacob as the one through whom he could best show forth His grace and power. What more suited for the display of His grace than the chief of sinners! Whom shall He take up to exhibit His power but the one who by nature was the most intractable! And the God of Jacob is our refuge. He is the God of Sovereign election, the God of matchless grace, the God of infinite patience, the God of transforming power!
With these things in mind, the readings for Tuesday-Friday come from the Biblical account of the life of Jacob. As you read pay close attention to God’s dealings with Jacob, Jacob’s actions and how God consistently shows mercy and faithfulness.
Day One: Psalm 46 - Take time to read the Psalm that we considered on Sunday. The notes from the message are available on our website. Psalm 46 powerfully and effectively conveys this truth: No matter what happens, no matter what life brings, we are safe in the care of God. Even when the earth falls out from under our feet; even when chaos surrounds us; God is our refuge, our protector and our safe shelter. As you read, take note of the structure: The Psalm is organized with three refrains (vs. 1-3; 4-7; 8-11) and each refrain has three elements: A statement of confidence declaring God’s protection and presence, (2) a description of God’s care in the midst of trouble and (3) a call to stop and reflect, Selah.
Day Two: Genesis 25:19-34 - Primary storylines and themes to consider: The birth of Jacob, God’s sovereign choice of Jacob,Jacob’s exploitation of Esau (For more on God’s choice of Jacob see Romans 9)
Day Three: Genesis 27 - Primary storylines and themes to consider: Isaac blesses Jacob instead of Esau, Jacob’s deceit and scheming, God’s use of all kinds of human actions in order to accomplish His plan
Day Four: Genesis 28 - Primary storylines and themes to consider: Jacob is sent away in order to find a wife, Jacob has a dream in which God affirms His blessings and promises toward Jacob
Day Five: Genesis 32 - Primary storylines and themes to consider: After a twenty year rift Jacob prepares to meet and (hopefully) reconcile with his brother Esau (32:1-21), Jacob has an encounter with God in which He struggles against God and in the end God blesses Him (32:22-32)
Day Six: Psalm 48 - Read Psalm 48 in preparation for our service on Sunday. As you read ask yourself these questions: What does this Psalm teach us about God? What does this Psalm teach us about ourselves? Also, take time to write down questions that you have about the Psalm, then come on Sunday and listen for answers to those questions.