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Psalm 46

During past wars, people built bomb shelters for safety. The idea was to have a small cave-like living area underground stocked with food, water, and supplies in case things got really bad above ground. I have always thought it would be interesting to climb down into one of these caves and see what it was like. But if bombs started falling, it would no longer be a curiosity, it would become a necessity, a place of safety, or… a refuge.

The word refuge makes us think of a safe place to hide during trouble. Did you know that the Bible talks about a refuge that will calm our fears and keep us safe during difficult times? That place of refuge is not a building, an army, or a cave. The refuge talked about in the Bible is God Himself. In Psalm 46, we are reminded about this refuge. Let’s take a look.

  1. God is our refuge because of what He is (Psalm 46:1-3).

    What does it say?

    These first three verses are divided into three sections: (1) How God is described, (2) how we should respond, and (3) how bad things could get. In the first part, God is described as our refuge, our strength, and a very present help during trouble. In the second part, we are reminded that who God is will keep us from being afraid. In the third part, we are reminded that God’s help is not diminished by terrible things like the earth being removed, the mountains being thrown into the sea, the water roaring, and the mountains shaking. God is our refuge because of who He is.

    What does it mean?

    Despite the most drastic of circumstances, we don’t need to be afraid because God is our refuge. He protects us from trouble. He is more powerful than anything or anyone. His help is always available when we need it. He is such a refuge that even the most drastic circumstances can be looked at without fear. He is the reason why we can have peace in the midst of the storm.

    How does it apply?

    I recently listened to the audiobook of The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. After being marooned on an island for several years, the five men experience the horror of a volcanic explosion. The author describes how the top of the mountain fell to the side and lava streamed down the mountain toward the men. Even though the event was fictitious, it was hard not to be alarmed at the vivid depiction of their circumstances.

    While we may not face a volcanic eruption in Ohio, there are plenty of other difficult situations that will cause us to flee to God for a refuge. One of the things that this psalm teaches us is that who God is makes all the difference. He is able to help us when we need Him.

  2. God is our refuge because He is with us (Psalm 46:4-7).

    What does it say?

    In these verses, God’s presence in the tabernacle is likened to a refreshing river which supplies happiness to the city of God. Because He is present, He will not allow the city to be shaken. He will help the city at just the right time. Even when enemy nations rage against us, God’s voice will cause them to melt. God is our refuge because He is with us.

    What does it mean?

    When you first look at the river and streams in verse 4, it is difficult to understand. But when you couple it with the holy place, it makes sense. The psalmist is likening God’s presence in the holy place to a river that waters that brings happiness to the people in a city. When a river flows through a land, it provides water to drink, to bathe in, and to help the crops grow. God’s presence in a city affects all who are there. Because He is there, the city isn’t shaken to pieces, it is helped, and the enemy’s rage isn’t a cause for concern. His presence makes all the difference.

    How does it apply?

    Do you remember when King Hezekiah was besieged by the Assyrians? You can read the story in Isaiah 36-37 or 2 Kings 18:17-19:37. The Assyrian king sent an army to surround Jerusalem and told Hezekiah not to trust in God as no other god had been able to help the people they had conquered so far. It was a dire circumstance, for sure. But Hezekiah took the situation to the Lord and God chose to answer his prayer in an unusual way. The next morning, God killed 175,000 Assyrian soldiers and the army withdrew from Jerusalem. I thought of that story when I read Psalm 46:5. God helped them “just at the break of dawn.”

    If God could do that for people who trusted Him 2,500 years ago, do you think He could help us today? This psalm reminds us that God’s presence with us is what guarantees our refuge in the time of trouble. While I like what happened to Hezekiah, I realize that we are not guaranteed to escape trouble just because God is with us. But I would imagine that even if trouble had continued, God’s presence would have given the people peace during their troubling times. Let’s remind ourselves that God is with us and to rely on Him moment by moment.

  3. God is our refuge because He is God (Psalm 46:8-11).

    What does it say?

    In these verses, we are invited to see what God has done. He has caused certain places to become desolate, has caused wars to end, and has destroyed military equipment. This is cause for recognizing that He is God and that He will be exalted in the whole earth. He is the Lord of hosts who is with us and He is our refuge. God is our refuge because He is God.

    What does it mean?

    This psalm teaches us that God is God. He is the Almighty God who is never defeated and who can overcome any obstacle. When God decides to end a war, it stops. God turns an army into nothing. In ancient times, an army armed itself with bows and arrows, spears, and chariots. And when you saw a well-armed army coming toward you, there was little hope of escape. But with God, all of that might is like broken toothpicks and wood for the fire. This should remind us to recognize who God is. He is God and the world will know it.

    How does it apply?

    What is it that seems formidable to you today? While it might not be an army at the moment, there are many things that grab our attention. We focus on the problem instead of focusing on the fact that God is God. When did a problem become too big for God to handle? It never does. But when we forget who God is, the problem suddenly become bigger than we can handle. This psalm reminds us to keep God as our focus. He is able to handle whatever it is that is bothering you. So take refuge in Him today.


A refuge is a place where we find shelter during a storm. In this psalm, we have seen that God is our refuge for His children. First, God is our refuge because of what He is. He is our strength and help whenever needed. Second, God is our refuge because He is with us. His presence is what gives us the confidence we need. Third, God is our refuge because He is God. His abilities are unmatched and we should rest in that.

As you go through life, there will be times that are very hard. Some will be more than you can handle. And as you go through them, you will be tempted to focus on the difficulties and forget about what we have learned from Psalm 46. When those times come, remember that God is a refuge for you and then let Him be that refuge for you.