Psalms 45-49
(A Mighty Fortress)
June 12th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

- Psalm 46:7 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

This set of prayers describes a wedding, a fortress, and the protection of God. The 45th Psalm describes a royal wedding of a powerful and righteous king, “You love the right and hate the wrong. And that is why God, your very own God, poured fragrant oil on your head, Marking you out as king from among your dear companions (Ps 45:7 - MSG).”

The bride must leave behind her family, but receives gifts and respect from the people of the kingdom and is allowed to bring her companions, the bridesmaids. The future sons of this family are expected to eventually take the place of their father, the king. The Psalmist commits to perpetuate the memories of this couple so that “the nations will praise you for ever and ever (Ps 45:17 - NIV).”

Psalms 46-48 are prayers for protection written with the sense of confidence that God will provide a refuge. The 46th Psalm describes the confidence that God will persist in any disaster. He is sovereign over nature and governments and will one day put an end to all wars. The Psalm concludes with a re-assuring quote from God, “Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:10 - NIV).” Psalms 47 and 48 follow with steadfast statements of praise and trust, commanding the people to clap their hands and “shout to God with cries of joy (Ps 47:1 - NIV).”

Psalm 48 describes the reactions of armies who approached Jerusalem and “fled in terror (48:5 - NIV)” as God destroyed them. This may have been written during the time of the unsuccessful sieges that we read about in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. The psalmist concludes this chapter by telling the people to observe the fortress of Jerusalem so they can describe it their children, and declares that God “will be our guide to the end.”

The 49th Psalm is a call to the people to remind them of the temporary nature of wealth versus the everlasting life found in God’s redemption. “But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish (Ps 49:12 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

The wedding in the 45th Psalm is symbolic of the marriage of God to the people of Israel and is prophetic regarding the coming of Christ, who represents the bridegroom to the church. It’s important to note that the bride comes from a foreign land, leaves her people, but brings her companions and shares in the king’s riches and glory. This transition represents how God invites us to leave behind the trappings of the world, share in his goodness and invite others to join. We will read more of this type of symbolism in the Song of Songs.

Psalm 46 is often recited as a prayer of comfort during national crises. Presumably, the author of this psalm had firsthand experience with the threat of violence and conquest by other nations - a threat that could arise without warning or provocation. All the generations that followed could relate due to the threats of their own era. In the 16th century A.D. Martin Luther (November 10 1483 – February 18 1546) was inspired by this Psalm as he wrote the Hymn, "Ein Feste Burg," which translates to “A Mighty Fortress” in English:

The people of the 21st century can relate to these verses also and continue to find solace in these words. Verses 9-10 make reference to the end of all war, a statement that can be viewed as an apocalyptic prophecy. We have not yet seen that day but God sees it, and revealed it to John, as recorded in the Book of Revelation.

The quote from God to “be still” in Psalm 46 can be interpreted in more than one way. He is telling the mountains and seas to be still, as Jesus did in Mark’s Gospel, because the earth knows its Creator. He is in charge and will bring a cessation of hostilities in his own way and time. God may also be telling us to put aside our worries, quiet our hearts, and be still in his presence. When we are still we show our trust and we may be able to better understand what God is saying to us.

The Christian lecturer and author James Sire offered an eloquent final thought on this 46th Psalm:

After the symbolism of weddings and fortresses, the lesson in the last Psalm of this group gives us one more reason to put our trust in God: He is everlasting. Our possessions on earth are not. “But God will redeem my life for the grave; he will surely take me to himself (Ps 49:15 - NIV).”

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions

    1. What memories do you have of seeing or reading about royal weddings?
    2. The bride in Psalm 45 left behind her old life to join her husband’s royal life. What you we willing to leave behind to join ourselves with Christ, the most royal of all royals?
    3. How can we be still and wait for God? How long can we remain that way?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in Heaven, you are refuge in times of trouble. Help us to be still and know you are God.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Sire, James W, Learning to Pray Through the Psalms, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 2005, p.204

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Psalms 50-55 (Penitential)

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