July 12, 2020
Daybreak: Psalms 45:1 through 48:14
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
The little farm where my wife grew up was nestled in a valley between the hills of Southern Oregon. To get to the farm, vehicles had to turn off the winding mountain highway and cross a creek by way of a rickety wooden bridge. The road split on the far side of the bridge, going north to where my wife’s family lived and south to the farm of some not-so-friendly neighbors. These neighbors felt they had exclusive rights to the road across the bridge, even though both households legally shared the access. The elderly farmer even placed a no trespassing sign along the road! The sight of my wife’s family driving across the bridge would bring both the man and his wife out to their front porch where they would scream threats and accusations of trespassing. They wanted no one else using what they mistakenly assumed was their exclusive property.
One day while the old man was working around his place, he lifted the lid off his well and peered down into the deep dark hole. As he did so, his glasses suddenly slipped off his face and fell into the depths of the well with a distant splash. Without his glasses, his vision was very poor, and he simply could not see to retrieve them. After a number of unsuccessful attempts, he realized that he needed help. The only person close by was my father-in-law — the very person he had done his best to keep away! However, there was no alternative, so the farmer haltingly made his way up the road to the house of the one who could help. He was not turned away; my father-in-law graciously came to his assistance, and the glasses were retrieved.
Just as that old farmer refused to acknowledge the rights of his neighbor until he was forced to ask for help, many people exclude God from their lives until they face trouble. Then, in desperation, they turn His way. While God always hears our cry, and we know He is merciful, how much better it is to have a relationship with Him before a crisis occurs rather than presuming on that mercy!
The author of Psalm 46 clearly had a connection with God. He knew from prior experience that God is a “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” As a result, he could say he would not fear, “though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:2). Even horrific calamities could be faced with courage because of God’s protecting presence and power.
How is your relationship with God today? Can you say with confidence that He is your Friend? Do you communicate with Him on a regular basis, sharing your ongoing joys and concerns? Don’t wait until trouble strikes to look His way and access the help and security He offers.
According to the lengthy superscription, Psalm 45 was composed as a wedding song (“a song of loves”) to celebrate the king’s wedding. The word Shoshannim means “lilies,” and either indicates that the song was played on a lily-shaped instrument, or that it was to be sung to the tune of a song titled, “Lilies.” Classified as a royal psalm, Psalm 45 is a Maschil, or psalm designed for instruction. It is addressed to the chief Musician, who was the leader of the tabernacle choir. The author is not identified by name but he may have been a court scribe since he alluded to himself in the first verse as a “ready writer.”
Many Bible scholars suggest that this psalm, while specifically directed to the king of that day and his bride, also alludes prophetically to Christ and His Bride, the Church. This view is supported by the fact that verses 6-7 are quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9 as applicable to Christ. The psalm can be divided into three parts: verses 1-9 concern the royal bridegroom, verses 10-15 describe the bride, and verses 16-17 are a prophetic blessing regarding the generations to come.
The word “Alamoth,” appearing in the super-scription of Psalm 46, can be translated as “young woman,” and probably indicates that the psalm was to be sung by high voices or played upon a high-pitched instrument. Like many other psalms, it is ascribed to the chief Musician for the sons of Korah.
This psalm is the first of three poems dealing with the greatness of God and His sufficiency for current and future circumstances. It is an expression of confidence in God by the inhabitants of Jerusalem following a miraculous deliverance. The context may have been the defeat of the King of Assyria when he besieged Jerusalem and the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 of his soldiers during the night (see 2 Kings 19:35-36). The psalmist described the miraculous delivery in three stanzas, each of which contains the central theme that God is present during times of trouble and provides safety (stanzas begin at verses 1, 7, and 11). Each stanza ends with the word “selah” — a word with a variety of interpretations. “Selah” occurs seventy-one times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk, and is generally thought to indicate a pause to stop and reflect.
Psalm 46 possibly was the inspiration for Martin Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
Psalm 47 continues the theme of the greatness and sufficiency of God begun in Psalm 46. Like the previous psalm, it is ascribed to the chief Musician for the sons of Korah. While the tone of the psalm is Davidic, no author is cited.
For the most part, Psalm 47 is considered as being Messianic. It is viewed as a prophetic allusion to the ascension of Christ and His kingly rule “over all the earth” (verse 2).
Psalm 48 completes the trilogy of three psalms extolling God. The superscription identifies this poem as “A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah.” Some commentators suggest that, like Psalm 46, this psalm was composed after the deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib’s assault (see 2 Kings 19). Others see it as a prophetical view of Christ’s future kingdom. Both interpretations may be correct; frequently in Scripture a historical event provides the basis for a passage with both immediate and future applications.
This psalm magnifies the greatness of God and Mount Zion, His dwelling place. The psalm opens with a description of who is to be worshipped (God), and where He is to be worshipped (in the “mountain of his holiness”). Verses 2-13 are a description of Zion.
The “ships of Tarshish” alluded to in verse 7 were the largest and most skillfully fashioned seagoing vessels of Old Testament times. They carried trade goods to and from Tarshish (Tartessus) in Spain. In spite of their strong construction, the natural forces commanded by God were far stronger; one instance when the ships of Tarshish were “broken” is recorded in 1 Kings 22:48.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- How many times in Psalm 47 did the psalmist call on all people to sing praises to God?
- In Psalm 45, the bride was advised to leave her friends and family to join the king. In what ways might God require Christians to “leave” their friends and family to follow Him, and why?
- What are some steps we can take to ensure that the next generation will remember what God has done on their behalf?
Let us be sure to maintain a close relationship with God. Then when we face problems or perplexing situations, we can turn to Him in confidence, knowing that He will help.