Introduction: If Psalm 45 foreshadows Jesus’ marriage to the Church, Psalm 46 foreshadows the Great Tribulation during the end times when Jesus will return to judge Satan and the nations: “With the arrival of the King the covenant of marriage He makes in Ps. 45, Ps. 46 celebrates an apocalyptic destruction of the earth and its nations, as the city of God enjoys unmoved stability because of God’s presence and protection, which brings the longed for lasting peace . . .” (James M. Hamilton Jr., Evangelical Bible Theology Commentary Psalms (Vol. I: Psalms 1-72) (Lexham Academic 2021) p. 474). This Psalm foreshadows seven things that Jesus will offer believers in the midst of destruction both during and after the Great Tribulation. These include His: (1) protection, (2) security, (3) life, (4) deliverance, (5) peace, (6) glory, and (7) fellowship.
First, during an undefined time of future trouble, the psalmist revealed that God will be a strength and refuge for His people. The New Testament confirms that Jesus will protect and strengthen believers during the Great Tribulation of the End Times. Second, during this time of trouble, the psalmist revealed that God’s power would cause mountains to quake and fall into the seas. But He would still offer His people security. During the Great Tribulation, Jesus will unleash great destruction upon the Earth. But His people will be secure. Third, the psalmist contrasted the horrific future natural disasters of the end times with the happiness and waters of life that God will offer His people in His holy city. During the Great Tribulation, Jesus will offer believers life and an escape from all suffering and death in the New Jerusalem. Fourth, the psalmist declared that God’s voice would defeat the evil nations that will assemble against Him. During the Great Tribulation, Jesus will defeat evil and deliver believers. Fifth, the psalmist further revealed that God will bring an end to all conflicts and wars after destroying the rebellious nations. The New Testament confirms that Great Tribulation will end with Jesus using His sovereign power to bring eternal peace. Sixth, God reveals that His people will then praise Him in His glory. After the Great Tribulation, believers will enjoy Jesus’ glory and worship Him with gratitude. Finally, the psalmist praised God for dwelling with His people. The Great Tribulation will also end with Jesus providing eternal fellowship for His believers.
1. Protection: During the Great Tribulation, Jesus Will Protect Believers. Ps. 46:1.
The psalmist celebrated the refuge that God will offer His people during a tribulation. During an undefined time of great “trouble”, God will protect and help His people: “For the music director. A Psalm of the sons of Korah, set to Alamoth. A Song. 1 God is our refuge and strength, a very ready help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1). Later verses make clear that the psalmist was referring to a catastrophic event with great earthquakes. Nothing like this was recorded during the nation of Israel’s existence. Thus, the psalmist was most likely speaking prophetically about a future calamity where God would protect His people. During the end times, the world will experience such trials and tribulations.
We are living in the end times. The Bible warns that we are living in the end times: “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (1 Jo. 2:18). During the end times, mankind will try to substitute God’s standards of morality with the “teachings of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). People will also mock Jesus’ standards of morality and pursue after their own lusts: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” (2 Pet. 3:3). It is “Satan, who deceives the whole world . . .” (Rev. 12:9). He has led mankind to label as good what God expressly calls evil in the Bible. But God warns that these people will be judged: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20). These things will prompt Jesus to one day bring His judgment during the Great Tribulation.
God promises to be a shield and refuge for His people. Even though a time of great judgment is coming, God will protect His people if they repent and call upon Him: “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him?” (Dt. 4:7). God will protect His people by becoming their shield: “Blessed are you, Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and He who is the sword of your majesty! So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will trample on their high places.” (Dt. 33:29). David repeatedly praised God for being his shield when he was in trouble: “The LORD will also be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble;” (Ps. 9:9). “You are my hiding place; You keep me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” (Ps. 32:7). “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:3).
David trusted in God’s promises and therefore never feared evil. As our example, David had faith in God and did not fear evil. Thus, he fully trusted in God for his protection: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom should I dread?” (Ps. 27:1). “Why should I fear in days of adversity, when the injustice of those who betray me surrounds me,” (Ps. 49:5). “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6). “so that we confidently say, ‘The LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”’ (Heb. 13:6).
Praise Jesus for His protection. Jesus is your rock. He deserves your praise for protecting you from the coming Tribulation: “The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; and exalted be God, the rock of my salvation,” (2 Sam. 22:47). “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Sam. 22:3). “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” (Dt. 32:4). “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Ps. 18:2, 31, 46; 19:14). Worship helps to clear your mind to receive His Word when you are in turmoil. Do you praise Jesus when you experience tribulation?
2. Security: During the Great Tribulation, Jesus Will Offer His Security. Ps. 46:2-3.
The psalmist celebrated the security that God would offer His people during a tribulation. Even though God will unleash earthquakes with mountains falling into the seas, God’s people will be secure from any danger: “2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah” (Ps. 46:2-3). “These verses declare that the people of God will find Him to be a strong refuge and an ever present help when the world as we know it comes to an end. The cosmic disruption described here points to the final end of history, when the just displeased of God purges creation of everything that has defiled the world He made pure.” (Hamilton at p. 474).
God will create great destruction during His day of judgment. The psalmist’s description of a great calamity with mountains falling into the sea matches God’s day of judgment: “Before them the earth quakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon become dark, and the stars lose their brightness.” (Joel 2:10). “Then the earth shook and quaked; and the foundations of the mountains were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry.” (Ps. 18:7). “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light,” (Mk. 13:24). “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Matt. 24:29).
God’s enemies have many reasons to fear His power. For those who reject God, they will be filled with great dread in the face of His perfect justice: ‘“Do you not fear Me?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do you not tremble in My presence? For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal limit, and it will not cross over it. Though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they will not cross over it.” (Jer. 5:22).
God gives us these warnings because He does not want any to perish. Some may find the many prophecies of judgment to be troubling. But God gives us these prophecies to warn everyone. He does not want any to perish: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9). Are you warning others (Matt. 28:16-20)?
God’s people do not need to fear the day of judgment. Even though a time of great destruction is coming, God will still protect His people. Thus, the psalmist proclaimed: “we will not fear,” (Ps. 46:2). As part of His Covenant with Abraham, God told Abraham that he did not need to fear: “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great.”’ (Gen. 15:1). God later repeated this encouragement to Isaac: “And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants, for the sake of My servant Abraham.”’ (Gen. 26:24). When Pharaoh’s army approached, Moses encouraged the people that God’s promise of protection extended to them as Abraham’s descendants: “But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will perform for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again, ever.”’ (Ex. 14:13). Elisha later told his servant not to fear an army that encircled them because God was with them: “And he said, ‘Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are greater than those who are with them.”’ (2 Kgs. 6:16). Anyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior, becomes an heir to God’s Covenant with Abraham (Gal. 3:29). Thus, with faith in Jesus, you don’t need to fear the tribulations and destruction that will come during the Great Tribulation.
3. Life: During the Great Tribulation, Jesus Will Offer Believers Life. Ps. 46:4-5.
The psalmist contrasted the world’s calamities with the peaceful city of God. While God’s enemies will experience horrific future natural disasters, God’s holy city will allow His people to find both happiness and His waters that provide life: 4 There is a river whose streams make the city of God happy, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.” (Ps. 46:4-5). “In contrast with the scene of tumult and disturbance in the world at large, which the writer has presented to us in verses 2, 3, he now shows us, resting in perfect peace and tranquility, ‘the city of God,’ threatened, indeed, by the nations, but undismayed by them, and calmly trusting in the protection of the God who is ‘in the midst of her.’ To this city he assigns a ‘river, the streams whereof make her glad;’ imagery in which we may recognize the perennial fountain of God’s grace - that ‘pure river of water of life,’ which, welling forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb, continually refreshes and gladdens the Church of Christ (Revelation 22:1), whether her dwell-tug-place be the earthly or the heavenly Jerusalem.” (Pulpit Commentary Ps. 46).
Jesus offers eternal life with Him in His city in heaven. Jesus gave His life so that all who believe can live with Him forever: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8). “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (Jo. 10:11). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jo. 3:16). His blood is the symbol and proof of His covenant. “And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’” (Mk. 14:24; Lk. 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Jer. 31:31). What Jesus offers is also free (Ro. 6:26). To live in His eternal city, you only need faith in His atoning death.
In the New Jerusalem, Jesus will restore His waters of life and joy. When God created Eden, Adam and Eve with His waters of life: “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.” (Gen. 2:10). Although this living water was lost because of mankind’s original sin, Zechariah, Ezekiel and Isaiah all promised that this living water would flow again from a future Jerusalem where the Messiah will reign forever: “And on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.” (Zech. 14:8). “And by the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezek. 47:12). “But there the majestic One, the LORD, will be for us a place of rivers and wide canals on which no boat with oars will go, and on which no mighty ship will pass—” (Is. 33:21). Jesus was and is the source of this living water: “The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (Jo. 7:38). His living water will flow from Him in the New Jerusalem: “for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:17). “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” (Rev. 22:1). If you need renewal, turn to Jesus and His living Word.
4. Deliverance: During the Great Tribulation, Jesus Will Deliver Believers. Ps. 46:6-7.
The psalmist declared that God’s voice would shake the Earth and defeat the nations. At a time when the nations would unite in rebellion, God’s voice alone would cause the Earth to quake. God would faithfully deliver His people from the nations’ armies: “6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth quaked. 7 The Lord of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah” (Ps. 46:6-7). The “Lord of armies” or “Yahweh Sabaoth” first appeared in 1 Samuel 1:3. The term is frequently referred to in many translations as the Lord of Hosts. The name describes God’s mighty power. The term “the God of Jacob” refers to the God who keeps His Covenant promises to His people. The name also evokes His great grace.
Jesus will judge those who rebel against Him. The Psalms are filled with warnings of judgment against those who rebel against God: “The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.” (Ps. 110:5). Samuel also foretold of God’s judgment upon the nations: “Those who contend with the LORD will be terrified; against them He will thunder in the heavens, the LORD will judge the ends of the earth; and He will give strength to His king, and will exalt the horn of His anointed.” (1 Sam. 2:10). Jesus will one day shatter the nations who oppose Him with “His voice” (Ps. 46:6): “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” (Rev. 19:15). “And He shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the Potter are shattered, as I also have received authority from My Father;” (Rev. 2:27). Every Word in the Bible will come true. The countless fulfilled prophecies should give every person who rejects Jesus and the authority of His Word reason to fear.
No evil can stop God’s will. In the end times, the nations’ attempt to rebel against God and defeat His people will be futile: “Why are the nations restless and the peoples plotting in vain?” (Ps. 2:1). “The LORD nullifies the plan of nations; He frustrates the plans of peoples.” (Ps. 33:10). “The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth quaked.” (Ps. 46:6). “The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” (Ps. 97:5).
God’s deliverance will be based upon grace. The name given for God in this Psalm suggests that God’s deliverance would not be based upon merit: “The title God of Jacob not only emphasizes the aspect of covenant, but also grace — in that Jacob was a rather shabby character, not known for his great holiness. This gracious and merciful God is an open refuge for His people.” (David Guzik on Ps. 46) (emphasis original).4
5. Peace: The Great Tribulation Will End With Jesus’ Eternal Peace. Ps. 46:8-9.
The psalmist declared that God is sovereign and will one day put an end to all conflict. After destroying the rebellious nations, God will bring an end to all conflicts and wars: “8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, who has inflicted horrific events on the earth. 9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.” (Ps. 46:8-9). These verses describe both God’s sovereignty and how He uses His power as part of His greater plan for good (Ro. 8:28).
The Messiah will put an end to all conflict and suffering. Isaiah also wrote about a future time when the Messiah will first judge the nations and then put an end to all wars: “And He will judge between the nations, and will mediate for many peoples; and they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning knives. Nation will not lift up a sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” (Is. 2:4).
The New Jerusalem will be a city of peace. Isaiah also stated that the rivers which come from God bring His peace: “For this is what the LORD says: ‘Behold, I extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and rocked back and forth on the knees.” (Is. 66:12). Ezekiel also promised that God’s people would one day enjoy a covenant of peace: “And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and set My sanctuary in their midst forever.” (Ezek. 37:26). Those who persevere in their faith can live in the New Jerusalem and enjoy eternal peace: “The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” (Rev. 3:12; 21:2).
Jesus will reign with peace and righteousness. Jesus will rule as the Prince of Peace with justice and righteousness: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.” (Is. 9:6-7; 16:5). ‘“Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.”’ (Jer. 23:5; Is. 24:15; 42:4; Zech. 9:9-10). The end to all injustice and evil is another reason to praise and worship Him.
Marvel at God’s goodness. The psalmist expressed awe at God’s works and goodness: “Come, behold the works of the Lord.” (Ps. 46:8). “Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of mankind.” (Ps. 66:5). “God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God!” (Ps. 68:35). Are you giving Jesus the praise He deserves?
6. His Glory: After the Great Tribulation, Believers Will Enjoy God’s Glory. Ps. 46:10.
God proclaimed that His people will one day exalt Him in His presence. At this point, God intervened and spoke. His people will be silenced in awe with His glory and worship Him with joy and gratitude: “10 ‘Stop striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth.’” (Ps. 46:10). The exaltation will not be forced upon the people. It will instead be a joyful reunion between God and His people: “Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Ps. 100:3).
God’s glory will be the only source of light in heaven. Isaiah wrote of a time when God’s glory would reign over His peoples: “Then the moon will be ashamed and the sun be put to shame, for the LORD of armies will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders.” (Is. 24:23). His glory will replace the light from the sun and the stars: “No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor will the moon give you light for brightness; but you will have the LORD as an everlasting light, and your God as your glory.” (Is. 60:19). This foreshadows the light that will flow from God in heaven: “And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:23). His glory will further shine forever in heaven: “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illuminate them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 22:5).
God will be exalted and His people will marvel in His glory. Isaiah also wrote of the exaltation that the people would experience in God’s presence: “And the pride of humanity will be humbled and the arrogance of people will be brought low; and the LORD alone will be exalted on that day,” (Is. 2:17). Paul urged believers to thank Jesus for His indescribable gifts: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15). Are you giving thanks for the many indescribable gifts that await you?
7. Fellowship: The Tribulation Will End With God’s Eternal Fellowship. Ps. 46:11.
The psalmist declared that God would one day dwell with His people. The psalmist concluded with a promise that God’s people would one day enjoy His fellowship: “11 The Lord of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah” (Ps. 46:11). God will both provide for and protect His people: “May the LORD answer you on a day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” (Ps. 20:1).
Through faith, Jesus offers you His fellowship. Through faith, Jesus offers fellowship: “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). To maintain your fellowship, your faith must be accompanied by a willingness to accept Jesus’ invitation for a deeper relationship: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20).
Jesus also offers you eternal joyful fellowship in heaven. The ability to dwell with Jesus in heaven will bring great joy: “And the redeemed of the LORD will return and come to Zion with joyful shouting, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Is. 35:10). “So that I may tell of all Your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation.” (Ps. 9:14; 21:6). “So my soul shall rejoice in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation.” (Ps. 35:9). Paul described the joy of heaven as something beyond what humans have seen or experienced (1 Cor. 2:9). In heaven, you can also look forward to an eternity of rejoicing: “Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,” (Rev. 5:11). Are you praising Jesus for what He did on the cross to make this eternal fellowship and joy possible?