Psalm 46:1-3

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.


God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

Use your imagination to picture verses 2 and 3. What would you feel like if you were standing on the shore? What if you were viewing these events from a boat in the ocean?


I love a trip to the coast. There is nothing like the feeling of standing high on a cliff above the churning sea and watching the waves crash onto the rocks below. It’s a spectacular scene from the safety of shore. I would feel very differently if I were in the surf and at the mercy of those pounding waves. The ocean is stunningly beautiful, but also dangerous. To the ancient Hebrews, the sea represented chaos. Scholars tell us that what’s being imagined in verses 2–3 is an act of “un-creation” as a work of the sea. [1]

Genesis 1:1–2 tells us that in the beginning, the Spirit of the Lord hovered over the waters when the earth was formless, dark, and empty. The rest of the chapter describes how God ordered and filled creation. Verses 6–9 explains how God separated “water from water” by dividing the sky from the land, and then the land from the sea. God created a stable and hospitable environment for the plants and animals he created to fill his new world.

In the great flood depicted in Genesis 6–9, God directed the waters of the earth to exceed their boundaries in an act of judgment. According to Genesis 7:11–12, “on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.” The flood brought creation back into a state that resembled pre-creation chaos — empty and formless under the waters.[2]  In its description in verses 2–3, Psalm 46 calls upon this imagery of roaring seas, and disappearing land — chaos threatening God’s order.

Of course, the flood story ends with a promise. In his mercy, God closed the springs, stopped the rain, and sent the winds, so the submerged land would once again appear and life had a stable place to thrive. He sent the rainbow as a promise that he would never again unleash the waters to cover the land and destroy life.

Yet, we still fear the chaos. We struggle with it in the world, in our lives, and even in our own minds. But our God is not a god of chaos, but of order. He is our refuge when the earth quakes and the storms rage. He promises us that he is always present. As we saw last week in Psalm 139, there is no place we could go where our Lord would not find us.

The Lord also promises his help. We do not have to live in fear, even if the solid ground threatens to give way beneath us. His firm and sure hand will hold us, no matter what troubles come.

[1] Gerald H. Wilson, Psalms, vol. 1, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 716.

[2] Ibid.

How do these verses apply to your life? Has the world been feeling chaotic to you lately? How can remembering that God is your refuge and ever-present help give you stability?


In times of fear, we have to remind ourselves of the reality of Psalm 46:1. Pray that the Lord would give you confidence in his presence and strength and refuge when chaos threatens. Pray that you would feel his peace in when the ground beneath you shakes.

About the Engage God DailY

Jesus invites us to know him personally and engage with him daily. Through daily Bible reading and prayer, we can grow in our relationship with him. The Engage God Daily is a daily resource designed to help you better understand the Bible and take you deeper into the concepts taught on Sunday mornings.

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