The book of Psalms is a collection of 150 songs composed by various authors over a period of many years. A large number of the psalms were written by David, who had a special gift for music and verse. Others who wrote psalms included in this collection were: Solomon, Moses, Asaph, and the sons of Korah. Thirty-four psalms have no attribution, and are sometimes called “orphan” psalms. The psalms cover a variety of themes and circumstances in Israel’s history, from times of great joy to times of great despair.
An oft-repeated theme in the psalms is the providential care of God for His people. One of the most notable in this regard is Psalm 46, which is attributed to the sons of Korah. The opening stanza says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” (Psa. 46:1-3).
We do not know the circumstances that prompted the composition of this song, and there may not have been any specific instance that motivated its creation. One of the pillars of Jewish faith was the fact that their God was their protector and provider. Therefore they often acknowledged this in songs of praise to Him. Psalm 46 extols this fact and encourages the reader to trust in God’s providential care, no matter what life may cast before him. This truth makes Psalm 46 timeless, for there will never be a time when God will cease being the refuge of His people and the strength by which they persevere through life.
The fact that this providential care did not cease with the Old Testament era is attested by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by His apostles. In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord exhorted His audience to not be anxious about the necessities of life, because their Father in heaven is well aware of their needs and will provide them if they seek Him first (Mt. 6:25-33). In Jn. 10:27-29 the Lord said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Later, Paul the apostle echoed this truth in Rom. 8:28, where he said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
These assurances do not mean that we will never be tested, or that we will never suffer at the hands of the wicked. Rather, they mean that no matter what befalls us from the evil one, God will provide for us and enable us to persevere through it, if we put our trust in Him and obey His word. This was the confidence of the first century Christians, and we should have it still today. This world is not our home. What happens here is nothing compared to the glory awaiting us in heaven (cf. Rom. 8:18). If we remain faithful to God, then even the loss of our lives means nothing, because our souls are secure in His hands.
As we face times of trial, whether due to our own unwise decisions, or due to the assaults of the wicked one and his angels, we are never alone if we belong to God. His desire is for us to be blessed on the earth, and to live with Him in heaven at the end of time. If we trust in Him, He will provide for our needs. Therefore, now, and until He takes us home to heaven, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”