Jun - Aug 2019

Psalm 46: When I Am Afraid

Tim Ayers

Jul 14, 2019

Top 5 American fears:

  1. 74.5% fear that corrupt government officials are going to ruin our lives by ruining our country.

  2. Our health care system will get so messed up that people either won't be able to get the health care they need or that the high cost of medical bills will ruin their lives.

  3. Air pollution, global warming, species extinction and a lack of good water will throw the world into chaos.

  4. 50% of all Americans are fearful that they won't have enough money for the future.

  5. Someone they love will die or get seriously ill.


Fear is everywhere...it is constant and for many it's unending.

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
3 Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude
4 A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
5 God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.
6 The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God's voice thunders,
and the earth melts!
7 The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel[b] is our fortress. Interlude
8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 "Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world."
11 The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress. Interlude

Psalm 46 is truly unique among all the psalms and the reason is right in the first words...the stuff before verse 1. It reads: "For the choir; a song of the descendants of Korah. To be sung by the soprano voices." The descendants of Korah were a well-known, musical Jewish family. They had a long history of leading the musical worship at the temple. Psalm 46 is in the middle of 9 Korah-family psalms. This Psalm is unique in that it is the only psalm of all 150 psalms that says it is to be sung by soprano voices...or as the note at the bottom of the page in my NLT Bible says, "according to Alamoth." Alamoth means: a young, unmarried, virgin girl who is right at the prime marrying age...and the prime marrying age for girls at this time was 11-12. So, this psalm was written specifically to be sung by a choir of 11 or 12-year-old girls. Girls of this age, in that time, were not normally allowed out in public. Some have said these would have been boys, not girls, but the Hebrew is clearly feminine!

I.m sure that you all know that at 11:00 am every Friday morning the weather alert siren sounds all throughout central Indiana. And no one pays any attention to it. But if that siren sounds at 11:00 pm on a Wednesday night, everyone takes notice.

Putting this message in the mouths of, literally, the last people in all of Israel that anyone would have expected to see or hear doing anything at the temple, eleven-year-old girls, would have been like hearing an 11:00 pm siren on a Wednesday night! Their voices were a siren saying, "Take notice! We have something important to tell you and you need to pay attention!"
The two primary fears of the ancient, Jewish world:

  1. A natural disaster. These would have come unexpectedly. They had no warning systems and people lived in the fear of nature turning on them.

  2. An invasion by an evil nation. This, too, would have come on unexpectedly. This was a real fear in the ancient world. Even if the invaders' ultimate intentions had to do with another nation they would run over any other people that happened to be in their way.


God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Hearing the unexpected voices of young girls singing this line forced the question, "Do I really believe that God is always ready to help me in times of trouble?" The next line lets us know that the choir girls believed this was true! So, we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. 3 Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! The Hebrew word that is translated "interlude" in the NLT is "Selah" (Say-la) and it is a word that told the music director to "place an instrumental pause here to give the people an opportunity to think about what was just sung."

And then we get to the second great fear: an invasion by a hostile army. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts! Young girls are reminding us that our God is far more powerful than any invading nation. God can simply speak, and everything will melt! The word translated "melts" here, comes from the Hebrew word "moog"and it means "to be helplessly disorganized."

7 The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. "No, we shouldn't live in the fear of being invaded by evil forces, because, "The Lord of heavens armies is here among us!" Now, this phrase "Heaven's Armies" comes from one Hebrew word "tsavah," a word that almost always means "a gathered army" and it is usually translated with the word. Think of the angels gathered to tell the shepherds that Jesus was born: the heavenly hosts. We see these hosts in 2 Kings when Elisha's servant needs encouragement. God gave this young man the ability to see the angels gathered to defend him and his comment is, "There are more who are with us than against us!" This is clearly a part of the Biblical story: God has an army ready to defend us.

"God is our fortress." The Hebrew word "misgav,"; gives us fortress. It literally means "a place on a high cliff; an inaccessible spot of security and safety."

Verses 8-9 call on the Jewish people to remember how God has acted in the past to end chaotic times...let';s read these verses. 8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord: See how he brings destruction upon the world. 9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth. He breaks the bow and snaps the spear; he burns the shields with fire. These times are: the flood, Sodom, the crossing of the Red sea, the confusion of the enemies who have come to attack Israel. Most times God uses his own natural forces to accomplish these "works." It is a sign that he can use something people fear for his own purposes!

10 Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. "Be still" comes from the Hebrew word, "raphah." It means to sink down, to relax, to drop your hands from working or to let something drop out of your hands; it can mean to abandon a task or stop working at something. I'm sure you get the picture. The voice of God, which in the moment, remember sounds like the voices of young girls singing, is telling us that whatever it is that we fear, He is God, the nations will honor Him (that takes care of one great fear), and His entire creation will honor Him (that takes care of the other great fear). So, be still, relax and know that I am with you and I will take care of you!

And then the psalm ends with a repeat of its chorus, chorus that once again reminds us that we are surrounded by God's army and that he is our place of safety!

The question is what do we do? Well, first, let's start by stating the facts from Psalm 46: 1) God created the earth. He is in charge of it and that means he is in charge of everyone and everything in his world. That is a fact we can hold on to. 2) God is present, and he also has an army of angels, a heavenly host, surrounding us. We see this as a reality far too many times in the Bible for God to be fooling us about this. And now that we have the facts, here are some practical things you can do to face your fears: first, make two lists: one of your fears, and one of the times that God has overcome your fears.

Commit to doing what you know you can and should do related to facing your fears.

Every Friday at 11:00 in the morning, if you hear that siren, no matter what your fears might be in that moment, let that siren be the sound that reminds you that you can "be still", let that siren remind you that your God is present with you and his army is surrounding you...let that siren be the unexpected voice that gives you the courage to say, "Bring it on. I will not be afraid because my God is my fortress."