Psalm 46:1

I wish I could keep a Bible scholar on retainer. Sure, I ask my husband. And that counts as asking my pastor, too, but I was thinking about Psalm 46:1 and thinking about how God is “a very present help in trouble” in multiple ways.

Bypassing whether we *should* add nuances to Scripture just because English translations may use words already full of nuance, I still think it’s interesting to think about. Not in a proof-text kind of way, but a meditation on the wonders of God’s revelations in all sorts of passages.

  • So, God is a very present help because He is present. He isn’t long-lost and neither are you. He knows right where you are and He puts Himself right there next to you. Actually. Not just a metaphor.
  • God is a very present help because He is the perfect helper! Right there next to you happens to be the God who created, sustains, and prepares a way for you. He is present in the here and now as well as the ongoing present time of your entire lifetime and your fore-parents’ lifetimes.
  • He is very present because He is so immensely right now. Is it odd that I think of Him like that? Yet He can take eternity and enter into our world with His Word, His Son, His Spirit—His self! Awesome.
  • You can call me a nerd, and maybe this isn’t a separate point, but God is “I am who I am”: He is the living God: He is the life: He is the present tense! Without Him is nothing, not even a now. Fascinating.

Then, of course, there is trouble. We all know trouble. There is plenty of trouble which should fill us with content for prayer. But then there is also the trouble of Christ, which He takes upon Himself. All of our trouble coming together in a single focal point that only God can take in the side and wake up to a cleansed Bride.

Scripture sure is good stuff. Thanks be to God.

“God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).


Filed under Theological reflection

2 Responses to Psalm 46:1

  1. Hi again, Mary–

    Thank you–your excellent meditation on Psalm 46:1 prompts me to take another look too at this great scripture. God is not only our refuge and strength–God is “a very present help in trouble.” That says that out of all possible times to be present, God is close-by in troubled times.

    For the world, trouble is a sign of God’s absence, not presence; as the sufferer cries out, “God, where are you?” In troubled times, you and I would just as soon be someplace else, but not God–it is precisely then that God chooses to be present.

    So, God is there–but this says even more–that God is “VERY present to help.” This VERY is a “magnifying word” that always carries great weight in the Bible. For example, all God’s creation is more than good–it is “very” good (Gen. 1:31). God’s Word is not just near to us–the Word is “very” near (Deuteronomy 30:14). God is not only great–God is “very” great (Psalm 104:1). So, in time of trouble, God is “very” present–supremely present–over-the-top present–present and then some!

    This is none other than the Gospel of the Cross, where God is most present of all–not withdrawing from human pain but identifying with sufferers to the very limit. For in the very worst of trouble, suspended between heaven and earth, the man Jesus trusted God to the very last, and Jesus the Son of God chose to drink the cup of human suffering to the very dregs.

    Even more, in the Resurrection this “very” present God is magnified again. For Easter is God’s ultimate approval of the sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus is alive, and in him God declares every believer free from sin, and alive forever.

    “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,

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