“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Psalm 46 is one of the most comforting psalms in the book. It doesn’t refer to any specific trouble the author is experiencing; rather, it refers to calamity in general. No matter what the circumstance, God is exalted as still being in control. He is powerful, and that power extends over all the earth. He is incredible in ways that will never cease to boggle our minds.
The first verse states this concept as clearly as can be: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The phrase “very present help” is intriguing. It literally means God is always here. When trouble comes, God comes, too. He is never going to leave us to deal with our hardships alone. Instead, He is right here with us, always present and naming Himself our helper. The very earth could give way beneath us, the flood waters could rise and overtake the mountains—but still, we who trust in God do not have to fear. He, the Almighty God Who created the world with His voice, can melt it with another word (v. 6). The psalmist writes about God being in the midst of His city; though all around it the nations are falling, that city stands firm, because God is within it (vv. 4-5). Literally nothing can overpower God. With a single word, He can calm everything.
In light of this, how should we come before this awesome, all-powerful God? His instruction is simple: “‘Be still, and know that I am God’” (v. 10a). Instead of a victory parade or loud shouts of praise, God tells us to look on His works and be still. He wants us to really soak in what it means that He is God. “‘I will be exalted among the nations,’” He proclaims, “‘I will be exalted in the earth!’” (v. 10b). He is the LORD of hosts, and He welcomes us into His refuge. He commands us to be still in His presence, to realize just how powerful He is. No matter what’s going on around us, God is still God. He is still strong, and nothing can overcome Him. And He, the God of Jacob, delights to call Himself our fortress.