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Psalm 46

When Trouble Comes

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 12, 2023

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

When Trouble Comes

Psalm 46 


Illus. A numbers game.


Read: Psalm 46:1-11 (NASB 95’)


            Psalm 46, like many of the Psalms, is one that has personal meaning to many. The imagery and truth it tells and the display powerfully God’s person, presence, and provision when trouble is what defines the situation a person is in. The Psalm is noted as a “Psalm of the sons of Korah.” These were sons from the priestly line, and they were appointed over the service of song in the house of the Lord and temple worship (1 Chronicles 6:31-48; 2 Chronicles 20:19).

            While it is noted as a “Psalm of the sons of Korah,” many Bible scholars have dug deep into this reason this Psalm was written and most have concluded that the likely circumstances and setting of this Psalm are recorded in the books of 2 Kings 18 to 19, Isaiah 36 to 37, and 2 Chronicles 32. These all tell of the same story, which is a story of trouble in Israel, but miraculous deliverance from God. It is worth noting that nobody knows for certain, however, as we study Psalm 46, I will use the application of this story because it provides vivid imagery.

            The period is believed to be all the way back to the year 701 BC, which was a dark and difficult time for God’s people. The Israelites has been split into the northern tribe and the southern tribe of Judah. The norther tribe had already been conquered by the Assyrians and their king, Sennacherib. Sennacherib was overwhelming and overtaking many different cities at that time, and after overtaking the northern tribe of Israel, Sennacherib took aim at Judah.

            The king of Judah at this time was Hezekiah. He was aided and assisted by the prophets Isaiah and Micah, and Hezekiah was known as a king who did right in God’s sight and trusted God. He brought about great revival, had the high places torn down, he reestablished the proper worship of God as well as the place of worship. He called the people back to God and in 2 Kings 18, we get some descriptive words about him:


2 Kings 18:3-6 (NASB 95’)


The northern king of Israel had already fallen to Assyria and the people of Israel were carried away captive. The capital of Assyria was Nineveh, and the Assyrians were known for their cruelty, their lack of mercy toward others, and desire for total takeover. In that desire, they head south, to the small kingdom of Judah, and city after city, they begin taking over various cities, and finally, they come to lay siege to Jerusalem. They begin to threaten, taunt and surround the city militarily. Sennacherib sent his assistant to Rabshakeh to go and get Hezekiah to give in to the Assyrians.  


2 Kings 18:28-30, 32, Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand;  nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” (NASB 95’)


The people heard this, and brought the news to Hezekiah, and it was at the time that he sought the counsel of Isaiah the prophet. He calls out to him, concerned, calling it a day of distress, but asking for Isaiah to offer a prayer for the people that are left, that perhaps the Lord would rebuke the words spoken by the Assyrians (1 Kings 19).


2 Kings 19:6-7, …‘Thus says the Lord, “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he will hear a rumor and return to his own land. And I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.”’” (NASB 95′)


The story continued as Rabshakeh told Sennacherib that Hezekiah was not backing down. So Sennacherib had messengers take a letter to Hezekiah…


2 Kings 19:10-11 (NASB 95’)


Verses 14-18 of that chapter tells us that Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers, and then went up to the house of the Lord and spread out the letter before the Lord and prayed…


2 Kings 19:19, Now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.” (NASB 95’)


Isaiah then sent a message to Hezekiah, to tell him that his prayer has been heard and it ends this way…


2 Kings 19:32-34, Thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, “He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; and he will not come before it with a shield or throw up a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he shall not come to this city,”’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’” (NASB 95’)


2 Kings 19:35-36, Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. (NASB 95’)


The Lord moved on behalf of His people that night. They were walled in that night, but He answered their call for Him that night. The Lord intervened. He was their help, present in their situation and struggle. It is believed, as I noted that this Psalm, Psalm 46, was written in acknowledgement and commemoration of it.

As we look back on what was written in that day, the trouble they were in, the seemingly impossible situation and we see that the Lord God was God almighty to them. This is important in whatever situation you might be in. Because this Psalm, though it likely gives us great insights to a particular story, the truth’s our eyes are opened to give us hope for times when trouble comes in our lives.


Psalm 46:1-3


  1. Let God’s Description Determine Your Subscriptions


  • Psalm 46 begins with a description of who God is. The people were in trouble, and they start out the Psalm with a declaration of a true a description of God considering the battle they were in.


  • They needed a reminder, they declare not only who God is, but who He is to them…God is our refuge, God is our strength, God is our very present help!


  • We looked at the term refuge last week while studying Psalm 34, but as a reminder, a refuge is a shelter from something, from the rain, from the storm, from danger.


  • A refuge then, is a place one flees to in trouble. The psalmist declared, “that is who our God is!”


Illus. God as refuge.


  • The statement, “God is our strength” implies not just that He is strong, but that He is our strength, He is the very source of strength we draw from. It points us to the truth that we can rely on His strength in our weakness, and His strength becomes our strength.


  • God is strong for His people, and He is also strong in His people.


Psalm 73:26, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (NASB 95’)


  • A portion is defined as a possession. Something that belongs to you. We are His, He is ours (Is. 43). God is our strength!


  • God is our refuge, our strength, and He is a very present help in trouble!


  • Very is also defined: exceedingly, abundantly.


  • Present is defined: as found, delivered, or readily available.


  • Help means help, assistance, or support.


  • God is our very present, very ready, exceedingly abundant and available help, support, and assistance…In times of trouble.


  • In times of trouble, distress, affliction, adversity, anguish, or tight places.


  • God does not withdraw during times of affliction, rather, He is abundantly available throughout them.


Psalm 46:2-3, 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. (NASB 95’)


  • What is therefore, therefore? Well, the topic turns to fear, so therefore is put there because there is no need to fear when who God is, and who He is to us becomes clear.


  • God is our refuge (place to run for shelter), God is our strength, He is very present at all times, therefore, we will not fear.


  • The Psalmist describes the earth changing, the mountains sinking into the sea and shaken.


  • The picture is of everything that we know to be stable on earth, becoming shaken and unstable. The picture painted almost seems a reversal of creation. Even then, we will not fear!


  • Hezekiah was in a tight place as the Assyrians were surrounding Jerusalem, everything was becoming unstable, a feared king sent his powerful army to take his city…But Hezekiah did not subscribe to fear, he subscribed to God.


  • He knew the description of the Assyrian army and all they had done, but he also knew the description of God, his refuge and strength.


Illus. Descriptions and Subscriptions.


1 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)


2 Kings 19:14-15, Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. Hezekiah prayed before the Lord… (NASB 95’)


  • As Hezekiah prayed, he acknowledged that the Lord was above it all, that he alone made heaven and earth. Then He continued, “hear me Lord, see what is written and listen to what Sennacherib is saying. Truly they have devastated the nations… Lord, deliver us!”


App. Subscription and Petition.


  1. Choose Gladness in His Provision


Psalm 46:4-7, There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. (NASB 95’)


  • In verse 4, the Psalmist shifts from a picture of roaring and foaming waters; to a river, with gently flowing streams.


  • The river and streams are in the city of God, this too, seems to paint a powerful picture of what was happening when the Assyrians were coming against Jerusalem.


  • Jerusalem, the city of God, is an interesting city because there is no river in it. Yet, the Psalmist is saying, there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.


  • What is being spoken of, the streams, are something that I believe were important at the time this Psalm was written and for us today.  


  • As noted, the city of Jerusalem was up against a battle. They were in a troubled time.


  • In Jerusalem, there was a single source of water called the Gihon spring. It was outside of the city walls, and while it was a great spring, there was an issue with it, enemies could come, and stop it up. 


  • If the only source of water was stopped up, the people would thirst to death.


  • Knowing that the Assyrians were coming and there was only one source of water, Hezekiah had a conduit built that was 1,777 and was hewn out of solid rock. Through this conduit, Hezekiah was able to divert the water from the Gihon spring into a reservoir that was inside the city of Jerusalem (2 Kings 20:20, 2 Chronicles 32:1-5).


  • The conduit was then covered up. The Assyrians never found it, their thought would have been, we will dehydrate them, they are going to need some water, but what they did not know is while they were surrounding the city on every side, the city had a continual water supply!


  • They were satisfied, “made glad” and refreshed even when they were being attacked, when their enemies were closing in, they had a source of refreshment within, they were made glad because of the provision.


  • One of the themes we have seen consistently in some of the Psalms we have been studying is not only the idea of God as our refuge, but contentment in God as our sufficiency.


Psalm 34:8, Taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!


Psalm 34:9, …To those who fear Him there is no lack of anything.


Psalm 23:1, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (NASB 95”)


  • These verses speak of provision, and when the Lord is what we are tasting, when the Lord is the one who is guiding, we lack no good thing.


  • Here, Psalm 46 points us to the thought of thirst, but then to the river whose streams make the city glad.


  • A good question is, what are your thirsty for and what supply can satisfy?


Illus. Thirsty Country.


  • All that is to say, Americans are thirsty, and what satisfies, or makes them glad is seen in the way their wants are showing the economy!


John 4:13-14, Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (NASB 95’)


John 7:37-38, Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”


  • Jesus, then, is the river, He is the fountain, and then you drink of Him, you will never thirst again.


Illus. Obey your thirst!


  • Jesus used the term “living water” that He would give (John 4:10, 7:38). When we obey the thirst of this world, we will always need more. But whoever drinks of the water Jesus gives, will never thirst.


Jeremiah 2:13, My people have committed two evils: they have abandoned Me, the fountain of living waters, to carve out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that do not hold water.


  • Rather than obeying your thirst, seek the living water that the Lord gives, you won’t thirst again.


  • That is what I want you to know, there is a river, whose streams will bring joy to your life, it will make you glad, it comes when you commit to Jesus Christ as your source and supply.


  • Today we make the choice as to what we will be filled with. Some are so full with other things that there is no room for what the Lord would give.


  • Choose the water of life today and it will be a well of water within, springing up to eternal life.


  • In heaven, we see a flowing river, and it speaks of the water of the Holy Spirit, which brings true prosperity.


Revelation 22:1-3, Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it… (NASB 95’)


  • There is a source within you, from your innermost being (John 7)!


  • We see it historically through a conduit, and eternally a river, and the Lord coming from the throne of the Lord, the river of life that flows through it. And presently, we know through life in Christ and the Holy Spirit, we have rivers, other translations read “torrents” of living water…my encouragement in trouble, choose gladness in what God has provided as you go through it.


Psalm 46:5-7, God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. (NASB 95’)


  • Psalmist points to God’s strength, God’s supply, what God had provided and that He was with them.


  • The Psalmist gives a testimony, God will help when morning dawns…


Psalm 46:8-9, Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. 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. (NASB 95’)


  • What the Psalmist describes can be applied to Hezekiah’s situation that I believe is the likely story this Psalm is in response to.


  • After Hezekiah prayed, the night came, and the dark of night, while it seems everyone was asleep, the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 Assyrian soldiers who were set on the destruction of God’s people in Jerusalem.


  • It was when the morning dawned that they recognized this victory, He made the war to cease, the Israelites, aside from seeking, and knowing who God is, did nothing.


Psalm 46:10-11, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (NIV)


III.   Be Still and Know that He is God


  • “Be still” is also translated “Cease striving.” It carries the meaning of relaxing, not making an effort or putting forward exertion, in other words, leaving the matter with God and being “anxious for nothing.”


  • It reminds of the many times this has been true, when we saw God work inside, or outside of us, and it was evident that He had a plan and the best thing I could have done with my hands was to praise Him!


When I fight I fight on my knees!


Illus. Crossing over.


  • Lastly, know that He is God. Remember what He has done, trust Him today knowing He is working, and look forward to the fact that there is a hope and future beyond all we see.


Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NASB 95’)


Illus. The call when trouble comes.


Psalm 46

1God is our refuge and strength,
very ready help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes
And the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
3Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.Selah
4There is a river whose streams make the city of God happy,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
5God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered;
He raised His voice, the earth quaked.
7The Lord of armies is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
8Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has inflicted horrific events on the earth.
9He 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.
10Stop striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth.”
11The Lord of armies is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

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