The Incredible Psalm 46:1 Meaning (god is our refuge and strength)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 

This is one of the most famous Psalms and has inspired many worship songs such as “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther. Despite it’s popularity I think we sometimes miss how the Psalm 46:1 meaning should change our approach to life. 

This is an incredible Psalm that should fill us with hope and challenge the way to face the difficulties in this life. Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of Psalm 46:1 and see how we can be encouraged.  

The Context Of Psalm 46:1 

Psalm 46 is found in the middle of several Psalms (42-72) that were likely composed for congregation worship. In other words this Psalm is a song. It’s unclear if it was written about any unique event; it is possible that it’s about God’s deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians. 

Most of Psalm 46 speaks from the perspective of the people of Israel, and it focuses on two main truths: God’s strength and his presence. And of that God’s people can trust in him. 

This Psalm also contains one of the most quoted Psalms, “God is within her she will not fail; God will help her at break of day.” You can read more about that here: The Powerful Truth About ‘God Is Within Her’ (Psalm 46:5 Meaning)

As this song is introduced we see a call to trust in God in Psalm 46:1-7. We see that God’s people are in desperate need of rescue. And the promise found in this Psalm is that God is near and he is strong. 

When we place our trust in God he will rescue us. Therefore we should practice thanksgiving. These are the main themes found in Psalm 46:d we need rescue, God is able, and we praise him. 

All of this is kicked off by the first verse. Let’s take a look and see what it means that God is our refuge and strength. 

The Psalm 46:1 Meaning 

Now that we’ve looked at the context of this passage let’s look at the meaning of Psalm 46:1 and see what it has for us. 

God Is Our Refuge And Strength

God is our refuge and strength. Psalm 46 kicks off with a powerful image of who God is. 

The word “refuge” is translated from the Hebrew word machaceh (מַחֲסֶה) and it means that God is a shelter. This word is found 16 times throughout the Psalms to show how God protects his people. Shelters provide safety and protect from storms, natural disasters, and even enemy attacks. The Psalmist is painting a picture of what God does for his people; he provides shelter for them.

But not only does God provide shelter and refuge for his people, he is strong. A shelter is only good if it can withstand the storm that is crashing against it. God is our refuge AND our strength. 

Don’t miss the implications here. The reality is all of us are in need of refuge and don’t have enough strength. For the Psalmist it was an enemy attacking. Similarly for us today we have things that we need shelter from, that we don’t have the strength to overcome. God will provide for us and rescue us. 

An Ever-Present Help In Trouble 

An ever-present help in trouble… in other words, God doesn’t help sometimes or when he feels like it. He is always present in our troubles ready to help. 

One only needs to look to the past to see how God has cared for and helped his people. He is worthy of our trust because he’s never let his people down in the past, and he won’t in the future. 

The word that’s used for trouble paints a picture of a corner, a confined space. In other words the Psalmist is describing a tight spot, where we are trapped and helpless. It’s in these situations that God is an ever-present help. 

The Israelites felt this as they were besieged by the Assyrians. They had no choice but to trust in God, and he rescued them. For us today there will be times we will feel trapped in a tight spot. We can look to the past to see how God has been an ever-present help in trouble and choose to trust him in our troubles. He will rescue his people. 

How To Apply The Meaning Of Psalm 46:1 To Your Life 

So, how does the Psalm 46:1 meaning apply to our lives today? I want to end by giving you a few practical ways you can apply this verse to your life. 

1. Look To The Past 

When we are facing troubles it’s easy to be overcome by what we are facing. It’s hard to see anything else and to think that our trouble is too big to get past. In those moments we ought to look to the past, look to the storms we’ve been through before, and look at how God provided. 

You don’t just have to look at your past, but also others, notice how God has cared for them. Looking at how God has been faithful in the past should instill hope for us in the present. 

2. Trust God In The Present 

A major theme in Psalm 46 is God’s presence with us. He’s not distant, he’s close by. Not only is he with us, he is our refuge and strength. Therefore we should place our trust in him. 

That doesn’t mean there won’t be storms in this life; we all will face trials and tribulations. But God will sustain us through them, and when we keep our eyes on him we can have peace in the midst of a storm. So, trust God with whatever you are facing. 

3. Praise God For What He Does Next

Psalm 46 reminds us that God is worthy of praise because of what he has done and will do. Our response when he rescues us should be to worship him. 

Not only should we worship in response, but also in anticipation. We believe that God will save us even though things might seem dire. Just because God hasn’t doesn’t mean he won’t. We aren’t home yet, and while we wait we worship the God who will save us. 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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