1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
While no one knows for sure, it is believed this psalm was written when Hezekiah was King of Judah, 701BC. Judah was facing a daunting invasion by Sennacherib, King of Assyria. Assyria had conquered all of the areas surrounding Israel and had sent a very threatening letter to King Hezekiah.
This letter described how all of those kingdoms had believed in their god’s protection and that belief had failed them every time. Sennacherib was using his pagan logic to demonstrate to Hezekiah that Yahweh was no different, Judah would fall like all of the others; resistance was futile. Hezekiah’s response was to prostrate himself to Yahweh, the one true God. The reason may be documented in this psalm.
The truth of this psalm is timeless, it applies to us today just as it did to Judah. The words of this song get right to the point, God is the source of protection and strength. Nothing can change His will. He is always with us, there is never a time when He isn’t. He is present even in today’s trouble. He formed the earth and everything in it, changes in its topography are by His will, even a massive conquering army is no match.
God’s response to King Hezekiah’s plea was clearly supernatural. He would save Jerusalem. This response is documented in 2 Kings 19:
“32 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
35 And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.”
In verse 10 of the Psalm we see God’s rebukes to the oppressors. “Be still” is the command to halt, much like a command to the raging waves, stop your raging, “I am God.” We often apply this to ourselves as well. We see it as we should “be still” and not worry which is true, although not the context of this passage.
God makes the statement of absolute truth. He will be exalted among nations. He will be exalted on all the earth. There is no other.
He is with us. Even when situations look impossible He is our refuge. We can fully count on Him. In this passage we see how nothing is too hard for God. He is able to change any situation. Invading forces, both physically and supernaturally, are no problem for our all-powerful God. We come humbly in prayer to Him and rest under His wings.