Psalms 46:1-11

Psalm 46

For the music director; by the Korahites; according to the alamoth style; a song.

46:1 God is our strong refuge;

he is truly our helper in times of trouble.

46:2 For this reason we do not fear when the earth shakes,

and the mountains tumble into the depths of the sea,

46:3 when its waves crash and foam,

and the mountains shake 10  before the surging sea. 11  (Selah)

46:4 The river’s channels bring joy to the city of God, 12 

the special, holy dwelling place of 13  the sovereign One. 14 

46:5 God lives within it, 15  it cannot be moved. 16 

God rescues it 17  at the break of dawn. 18 

46:6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms are overthrown. 19 

God 20  gives a shout, 21  the earth dissolves. 22 

46:7 The Lord who commands armies is on our side! 23 

The God of Jacob 24  is our protector! 25  (Selah)

46:8 Come! Witness the exploits 26  of the Lord,

who brings devastation to the earth! 27 

46:9 He brings an end to wars throughout the earth; 28 

he shatters 29  the bow and breaks 30  the spear;

he burns 31  the shields with fire. 32 

46:10 He says, 33  “Stop your striving and recognize 34  that I am God!

I will be exalted 35  over 36  the nations! I will be exalted over 37  the earth!”

46:11 The Lord who commands armies is on our side! 38 

The God of Jacob 39  is our protector! 40  (Selah)

Psalms 48:1-14

Psalm 48 41 

A song, a psalm by the Korahites.

48:1 The Lord is great and certainly worthy of praise

in the city of our God, 42  his holy hill.

48:2 It is lofty and pleasing to look at, 43 

a source of joy to the whole earth. 44 

Mount Zion resembles the peaks of Zaphon; 45 

it is the city of the great king.

48:3 God is in its fortresses;

he reveals himself as its defender. 46 

48:4 For 47  look, the kings assemble; 48 

they advance together.

48:5 As soon as they see, 49  they are shocked; 50 

they are terrified, they quickly retreat. 51 

48:6 Look at them shake uncontrollably, 52 

like a woman writhing in childbirth. 53 

48:7 With an east wind

you shatter 54  the large ships. 55 

48:8 We heard about God’s mighty deeds, now we have seen them, 56 

in the city of the Lord, the invincible Warrior, 57 

in the city of our God.

God makes it permanently secure. 58  (Selah)

48:9 We reflect on your loyal love, O God,

within your temple.

48:10 The praise you receive as far away as the ends of the earth

is worthy of your reputation, O God. 59 

You execute justice! 60 

48:11 Mount Zion rejoices;

the towns 61  of Judah are happy, 62 

because of your acts of judgment. 63 

48:12 Walk around 64  Zion! Encircle it!

Count its towers!

48:13 Consider its defenses! 65 

Walk through 66  its fortresses,

so you can tell the next generation about it! 67 

48:14 For God, our God, is our defender forever! 68 

He guides 69  us! 70 

Psalms 76:1-12

Psalm 76 71 

For the music director; to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a psalm of Asaph, a song.

76:1 God has revealed himself in Judah; 72 

in Israel his reputation 73  is great.

76:2 He lives in Salem; 74 

he dwells in Zion. 75 

76:3 There he shattered the arrows, 76 

the shield, the sword, and the rest of the weapons of war. 77  (Selah)

76:4 You shine brightly and reveal your majesty,

as you descend from the hills where you killed your prey. 78 

76:5 The bravehearted 79  were plundered; 80 

they “fell asleep.” 81 

All the warriors were helpless. 82 

76:6 At the sound of your battle cry, 83  O God of Jacob,

both rider 84  and horse “fell asleep.” 85 

76:7 You are awesome! Yes, you!

Who can withstand your intense anger? 86 

76:8 From heaven you announced what their punishment would be. 87 

The earth 88  was afraid and silent

76:9 when God arose to execute judgment,

and to deliver all the oppressed of the earth. (Selah)

76:10 Certainly 89  your angry judgment upon men will bring you praise; 90 

you reveal your anger in full measure. 91 

76:11 Make vows to the Lord your God and repay them!

Let all those who surround him 92  bring tribute to the awesome one!

76:12 He humbles princes; 93 

the kings of the earth regard him as awesome. 94 


sn Psalm 46. In this so-called “Song Of Zion” God’s people confidently affirm that they are secure because the great warrior-king dwells within Jerusalem and protects it from the nations that cause such chaos in the earth. A refrain (vv. 7, 11) concludes the song’s two major sections.

sn The meaning of the Hebrew term עֲלָמוֹת (alamoth, which means “young women”) is uncertain; perhaps it refers to a particular style of music. Cf. 1 Chr 15:20.

tn Heb “our refuge and strength,” which is probably a hendiadys meaning “our strong refuge” (see Ps 71:7). Another option is to translate, “our refuge and source of strength.”

tn Heb “a helper in times of trouble he is found [to be] greatly.” The perfect verbal form has a generalizing function here. The adverb מְאֹד (mÿod, “greatly”) has an emphasizing function.

tn The imperfect is taken in a generalizing sense (cf. NEB) because the situation described in vv. 2-3 is understood as symbolizing typical world conditions. In this case the imperfect draws attention to the typical nature of the response. The covenant community characteristically responds with confidence, not fear. Another option is to take the situation described as purely hypothetical. In this case one might translate, “We will not fear, even though the earth should shake” (cf. NIV, NRSV).

tn The Hiphil infinitival form is normally taken to mean “when [the earth] is altered,” being derived from מוּר (mur, “to change”). In this case the Hiphil would be intransitive, as in Ps 15:4. HALOT 560 s.v. II מור emends the form to a Niphal and derives it from a homonymic root מוּר attested in Arabic with the meaning “shake.”

tn Heb “heart of the seas.” The plural may be used for emphasis, pointing to the deepest sea. Note that the next verse uses a singular pronoun (“its waters,” “its swelling”) in referring back to the plural noun.

tn Heb “its waters.”

tn Or “roar.”

10 tn The three imperfect verbal forms in v. 3 draw attention to the characteristic nature of the activity described.

11 tn Heb “at its swelling.” The Hebrew word often means “pride.” If the sea is symbolic of hostile nations, then this may be a case of double entendre. The surging, swelling sea symbolizes the proud, hostile nations. On the surface the psalmist appears to be depicting a major natural catastrophe, perhaps a tidal wave. If so, then the situation would be hypothetical. However, the repetition of the verbs הָמָה (hamah, “crash; roar,” v. 3) and מוֹט (mot, “shake,” v. 2) in v. 6, where nations/kingdoms “roar” and “shake,” suggests that the language of vv. 2-3 is symbolic and depicts the upheaval that characterizes relationships between the nations of the earth. As some nations (symbolized by the surging, chaotic waters) show hostility, others (symbolized by the mountains) come crashing down to destruction. The surging waters are symbolic of chaotic forces in other poetic texts (see, for example, Isa 17:12; Jer 51:42) and mountains can symbolize strong kingdoms (see, for example, Jer 51:25).

12 tn Heb “A river, its channels cause the city of God to be glad.”

sn The city of God is Jerusalem (see Pss 48:1-2; 87:2-3). The river’s “channels” are probably irrigation ditches vital to growing crops. Some relate the imagery to the “waters of Shiloah” (see Isa 8:6), which flowed from the Gihon spring to the pool of Siloam. In Isa 8:6-8 these waters are contrasted with the flood waters symbolizing Assyria. Even if this is the reality behind the imagery, the picture of a river flowing through Jerusalem is idealized and exaggerated. The river and irrigation ditches symbolize the peace and prosperity that the Lord provides for Jerusalem, in contrast to the havoc produced by the turbulent waters (symbolic of the nations) outside the city. Some see here an adaptation of Canaanite (or, more specifically, Jebusite) mythical traditions of rivers/springs flowing from the high god El’s dwelling place. The Songs of Zion do utilize such imagery at times (see Ps 48:2). The image of a river flowing through Zion may have inspired prophetic visions of an eschatological river flowing from the temple (see Ezek 47:1-12; Joel 3:18).

13 tn Heb “the holy [place] of the dwelling places of.” The adjective “holy” is used here in a substantival manner and placed in construct with the following noun (see GKC 428 §132.c). Origen’s transliterated text assumes the reading קֹדֶשׁ (qodesh, “holiness; holy place”), while the LXX assumes a Piel verbal form קִדֵּשׁ (qidesh, “makes holy”) and takes the following form as “his dwelling place.” The plural form מִשְׁכְּנֵי (mishkÿney, “dwelling places of”) is probably a plural of degree, emphasizing the special character of this dwelling place. See GKC 397 §124.b. The form stands as an appositional genitive in relation to the preceding construct noun.

14 tn Heb “Most High.” This divine title (עֶלְיוֹן, ’elyon) pictures God as the exalted ruler of the universe who vindicates the innocent and judges the wicked. See especially Pss 7:17; 9:2; 18:13; 21:7; 47:2.

15 tn Heb “God [is] within her.” The feminine singular pronoun refers to the city mentioned in v. 4.

16 tn Another option is to translate the imperfect verbal form as future, “it will not be upended.” Even if one chooses this option, the future tense must be understood in a generalizing sense. The verb מוֹט (mot), translated “upended” here, is used in v. 2 of the mountains “tumbling” into the seas and in v. 6 of nations being “upended.” By way of contrast, Jerusalem, God’s dwelling place, is secure and immune from such turmoil and destruction.

17 tn Or “helps her.” The imperfect draws attention to the generalizing character of the statement.

18 tn Heb “at the turning of morning.” (For other uses of the expression see Exod 14:27 and Judg 19:26).

sn At the break of dawn. The “morning” is viewed metaphorically as a time of deliverance and vindication after the dark “night” of trouble (see Ps 30:5; Isa 17:14). There may be an allusion here to Exod 14:27 (where the Lord destroyed the Egyptians at the “break of dawn”) or, more likely, to the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege, when the people discovered the dead bodies of the Assyrian army in the morning (Isa 37:36).

19 tn Heb “nations roar, kingdoms shake.” The Hebrew verb הָמָה (hamah, “roar, be in uproar”) is used in v. 3 of the waves crashing, while the verb מוֹט (mot, “overthrown”) is used in v. 2 of mountains tumbling into the sea (see also v. 5, where the psalm affirms that Jerusalem “cannot be moved”). The repetition of the verbs suggests that the language of vv. 2-3 is symbolic and depicts the upheaval that characterizes relationships between the nations of the earth. As some nations (symbolized by the surging, chaotic waters) show hostility, others (symbolized by the mountains) come crashing down to destruction. The surging waters are symbolic of chaotic forces in other poetic texts (see, for example, Isa 17:12; Jer 51:42) and mountains can symbolize strong kingdoms (see, for example, Jer 51:25).

20 tn Heb “He.” God is the obvious referent here (see v. 5), and has been specified in the translation for clarity.

21 tn Heb “offers his voice.” In theophanic texts the phrase refers to God’s thunderous shout which functions as a battle cry (see Pss 18:13; 68:33).

22 tn Or “melts.” See Amos 9:5. The image depicts the nation’s helplessness before Jerusalem’s defender, who annihilates their armies (see vv. 8-9). The imperfect verbal form emphasizes the characteristic nature of the action described.

23 tn Heb “the Lord of hosts is with us.” The title “Lord of hosts” here pictures the Lord as a mighty warrior-king who leads armies into battle (see Ps 24:10). The military imagery is further developed in vv. 8-9.

24 tn That is, Israel, or Judah (see Ps 20:1).

25 tn Heb “our elevated place” (see Pss 9:9; 18:2).

26 sn In this context the Lord’s exploits are military in nature (see vv. 8b-9).

27 tn Heb “who sets desolations in the earth” (see Isa 13:9). The active participle describes God’s characteristic activity as a warrior.

28 tn Heb “[the] one who causes wars to cease unto the end of the earth.” The participle continues the description begun in v. 8b and indicates that this is the Lord’s characteristic activity. Ironically, he brings peace to the earth by devastating the warlike, hostile nations (vv. 8, 9b).

29 tn The verb שָׁבַר (shavar, “break”) appears in the Piel here (see Ps 29:5). In the OT it occurs thirty-six times in the Piel, always with multiple objects (the object is either a collective singular or grammatically plural or dual form). The Piel may highlight the repetition of the pluralative action, or it may suggest an intensification of action, indicating repeated action comprising a whole, perhaps with the nuance “break again and again, break in pieces.” Another option is to understand the form as resultative: “make broken” (see IBHS 404-7 §24.3). The imperfect verbal form carries on and emphasizes the generalizing nature of the description.

30 tn The perfect verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive carries along the generalizing emphasis of the preceding imperfect.

31 tn The imperfect verbal form carries on and emphasizes the generalizing nature of the description.

32 tn Heb “wagons he burns with fire.” Some read “chariots” here (cf. NASB), but the Hebrew word refers to wagons or carts, not chariots, elsewhere in the OT. In this context, where military weapons are mentioned, it is better to revocalize the form as עֲגִלוֹת (’agilot, “round shields”), a word which occurs only here in the OT, but is attested in later Hebrew and Aramaic.

33 tn The words “he says” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

34 tn Heb “do nothing/be quiet (see 1 Sam 15:16) and know.” This statement may be addressed to the hostile nations, indicating they should cease their efforts to destroy God’s people, or to Judah, indicating they should rest secure in God’s protection. Since the psalm is an expression of Judah’s trust and confidence, it is more likely that the words are directed to the nations, who are actively promoting chaos and are in need of a rebuke.

35 tn Elsewhere in the psalms the verb רוּם (rum, “be exalted”) when used of God, refers to his exalted position as king (Pss 18:46; 99:2; 113:4; 138:6) and/or his self-revelation as king through his mighty deeds of deliverance (Pss 21:13; 57:5, 11).

36 tn Or “among.”

37 tn Or “in.”

38 tn Heb “the Lord of hosts is with us.” The title “Lord of hosts” here pictures the Lord as a mighty warrior-king who leads armies into battle (see Ps 24:10). The military imagery is further developed in vv. 8-9.

39 tn That is, Israel, or Judah (see Ps 20:1).

40 tn Heb “our elevated place” (see Pss 9:9; 18:2).

41 sn Psalm 48. This so-called “Song of Zion” celebrates the greatness and glory of the Lord’s dwelling place, Jerusalem. His presence in the city elevates it above all others and assures its security.

42 sn The city of our God is Jerusalem, which is also referred to here as “his holy hill,” that is, Zion (see v. 2, as well as Isa 66:20; Joel 2:1; 3:17; Zech 8:3; Pss 2:6; 15:1; 43:3; 87:1; Dan 9:16).

43 tn Heb “beautiful of height.” The Hebrew term נוֹף (nof, “height”) is a genitive of specification after the qualitative noun “beautiful.” The idea seems to be that Mount Zion, because of its lofty appearance, is pleasing to the sight.

44 sn A source of joy to the whole earth. The language is hyperbolic. Zion, as the dwelling place of the universal king, is pictured as the world’s capital. The prophets anticipated this idealized picture becoming a reality in the eschaton (see Isa 2:1-4).

45 tn Heb “Mount Zion, the peaks of Zaphon.” Like all the preceding phrases in v. 2, both phrases are appositional to “city of our God, his holy hill” in v. 1, suggesting an identification in the poet’s mind between Mount Zion and Zaphon. “Zaphon” usually refers to the “north” in a general sense (see Pss 89:12; 107:3), but here, where it is collocated with “peaks,” it refers specifically to Mount Zaphon, located in the vicinity of ancient Ugarit and viewed as the mountain where the gods assembled (see Isa 14:13). By alluding to West Semitic mythology in this way, the psalm affirms that Mount Zion is the real divine mountain, for it is here that the Lord God of Israel lives and rules over the nations. See P. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC), 353, and T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 103.

46 tn Heb “he is known for an elevated place.”

47 tn The logical connection between vv. 3-4 seems to be this: God is the protector of Zion and reveals himself as the city’s defender – this is necessary because hostile armies threaten the city.

48 tn The perfect verbal forms in vv. 4-6 are understood as descriptive. In dramatic style (note הִנֵּה, hinneh, “look”) the psalm describes an enemy attack against the city as if it were occurring at this very moment. Another option is to take the perfects as narrational (“the kings assembled, they advanced”), referring to a particular historical event, such as Sennacherib’s siege of the city in 701 b.c. (cf. NIV, NRSV). Even if one translates the verses in a dramatic-descriptive manner (as the present translation does), the Lord’s victory over the Assyrians was probably what served as the inspiration of the description (see v. 8).

49 tn The object of “see” is omitted, but v. 3b suggests that the Lord’s self-revelation as the city’s defender is what they see.

50 tn Heb “they look, so they are shocked.” Here כֵּן (ken, “so”) has the force of “in the same measure.”

51 tn The translation attempts to reflect the staccato style of the Hebrew text, where the main clauses of vv. 4-6 are simply juxtaposed without connectives.

52 tn Heb “trembling seizes them there.” The adverb שָׁם (sham, “there”) is used here, as often in poetic texts, to point “to a spot in which a scene is localized vividly in the imagination” (BDB 1027 s.v.).

53 tn Heb “[with] writhing like one giving birth.”

sn The language of vv. 5-6 is reminiscent of Exod 15:15.

54 tn The switch to the imperfect, as well as the introduction of the ship metaphor, perhaps signals a change to a generalizing tone; the Lord typically shatters these large ships, symbolic of the human strength of hostile armies (see the following note on “large ships”). The verb שָׁבַר (shavar, “break”) appears in the Piel here (see Pss 29:5; 46:9). In the OT it occurs thirty-six times in the Piel, always with multiple objects (the object is either a collective singular or grammatically plural or dual form). The Piel may highlight the repetition of the pluralative action, or it may suggest an intensification of action, indicating repeated action comprising a whole, perhaps with the nuance “break again and again, break in pieces.” Another option is to understand the form as resultative: “make broken” (see IBHS 404-7 §24.3).

55 tn Heb “the ships of Tarshish.” This probably refers to large ships either made in or capable of traveling to and from the distant western port of Tarshish. These ships, which were the best of their class, here symbolize the mere human strength of hostile armies, which are incapable of withstanding the Lord’s divine power (see Isa 2:16).

56 tn Heb “As we have heard, so we have seen.” The community had heard about God’s mighty deeds in the nation’s history. Having personally witnessed his saving power with their own eyes, they could now affirm that the tradition was not exaggerated or inaccurate.

57 tn Heb “the Lord of hosts.” The title “Lord of hosts” here pictures the Lord as a mighty warrior-king who leads armies into battle (see Pss 24:10; 46:7, 11).

58 tn Or “God makes it secure forever.” The imperfect highlights the characteristic nature of the generalizing statement.

59 tn Heb “like your name, O God, so [is] your praise to the ends of the earth.” Here “name” refers to God’s reputation and revealed character.

60 tn Heb “your right hand is full of justice.” The “right hand” suggests activity and power.

61 tn Heb “daughters.” The reference is to the cities of Judah surrounding Zion (see Ps 97:8 and H. Haag, TDOT 2:336).

62 tn The prefixed verbal forms are understood as generalizing imperfects. (For other examples of an imperfect followed by causal לְמַעַן [lÿmaan], see Ps 23:3; Isa 49:7; 55:5.) Another option is to interpret the forms as jussives, “Let Mount Zion rejoice! Let the towns of Judah be happy!” (cf. NASB, NRSV; note the imperatives in vv. 12-13.)

63 sn These acts of judgment are described in vv. 4-7.

64 tn The verb forms in vv. 12-13 are plural; the entire Judahite community is addressed.

65 tn Heb “set your heart to its rampart.”

66 tn The precise meaning of the Hebrew word translated “walk through,” which occurs only here in the OT, is uncertain. Cf. NEB “pass…in review”; NIV “view.”

67 sn The city’s towers, defenses, and fortresses are outward reminders and tangible symbols of the divine protection the city enjoys.

68 tn Heb “for this is God, our God, forever and ever.” “This” might be paraphrased, “this protector described and praised in the preceding verses.”

69 tn The imperfect highlights the characteristic nature of the generalizing statement.

70 tn In the Hebrew text the psalm ends with the words עַל־מוּת (’al-mut, “upon [unto?] dying”), which make little, if any, sense. M. Dahood (Psalms [AB], 1:293) proposes an otherwise unattested plural form עֹלָמוֹת (’olamot; from עוֹלָם, ’olam, “eternity”). This would provide a nice parallel to עוֹלָם וָעֶד (’olam vaed, “forever”) in the preceding line, but elsewhere the plural of עוֹלָם appears as עֹלָמִים (’olamim). It is preferable to understand the phrase as a musical direction of some sort (see עַל־מוּת [’al-mut] in the superscription of Ps 9) or to emend the text to עַל־עֲלָמוֹת (’al-alamot, “according to the alamoth style”; see the heading of Ps 46). In either case it should be understood as belonging with the superscription of the following psalm.

71 sn Psalm 76. The psalmist depicts God as a mighty warrior who destroys Israel’s enemies.

72 tn Or “God is known in Judah.”

73 tn Heb “name,” which here stands metonymically for God’s reputation.

74 sn Salem is a shorter name for Jerusalem (see Gen 14:18).

75 tn Heb “and his place of refuge is in Salem, and his lair in Zion.” God may be likened here to a lion (see v. 4).

76 tn Heb “flames of the bow,” i.e., arrows.

77 tn Heb “shield and sword and battle.” “Battle” probably here stands by metonymy for the weapons of war in general.

sn This verse may allude to the miraculous defeat of the Assyrians in 701 b.c. (see Isa 36-37).

78 tn Heb “radiant [are] you, majestic from the hills of prey.” God is depicted as a victorious king and as a lion that has killed its victims.

79 tn Heb “strong of heart.” In Isa 46:12, the only other text where this phrase appears, it refers to those who are stubborn, but here it seems to describe brave warriors (see the next line).

80 tn The verb is a rare Aramaized form of the Hitpolel (see GKC 149 §54.a, n. 2); the root is שָׁלַל (shalal, “to plunder”).

81 tn Heb “they slept [in] their sleep.” “Sleep” here refers to the “sleep” of death. A number of modern translations take the phrase to refer to something less than death, however: NASB “cast into a deep sleep”; NEB “fall senseless”; NIV “lie still”; NRSV “lay stunned.”

82 tn Heb “and all the men of strength did not find their hands.”

83 tn Heb “from your shout.” The noun is derived from the Hebrew verb גָּעַר (gaar), which is often understood to mean “rebuke.” In some cases it is apparent that scolding or threatening is in view (see Gen 37:10; Ruth 2:16; Zech 3:2). However, in militaristic contexts this translation is inadequate, for the verb refers in this setting to the warrior’s battle cry, which terrifies and paralyzes the enemy. See A. Caquot, TDOT 3:53, and note the use of the verb in Pss 68:30; 106:9; Nah 1:4, as well as the related noun in Job 26:11; Pss 9:5; 18:15; 104:7; Isa 50:2; 51:20; 66:15.

84 tn Or “chariot,” but even so the term is metonymic for the charioteer.

85 tn Heb “he fell asleep, and [the] chariot and [the] horse.” Once again (see v. 5) “sleep” refers here to the “sleep” of death.

86 tc Heb “and who can stand before you from the time of your anger?” The Hebrew expression מֵאָז (meaz, “from the time of”) is better emended to מֵאֹז (meoz, “from [i.e., “because of”] the strength of your anger”; see Ps 90:11).

87 tn Heb “a [legal] decision,” or “sentence.”

88 tn “The earth” stands here by metonymy for its inhabitants.

89 tn Or “for.”

90 tn Heb “the anger of men will praise you.” This could mean that men’s anger (subjective genitive), when punished by God, will bring him praise, but this interpretation does not harmonize well with the next line. The translation assumes that God’s anger is in view here (see v. 7) and that “men” is an objective genitive. God’s angry judgment against men brings him praise because it reveals his power and majesty (see vv. 1-4).

91 tn Heb “the rest of anger you put on.” The meaning of the statement is not entirely clear. Perhaps the idea is that God, as he prepares for battle, girds himself with every last ounce of his anger, as if it were a weapon.

92 tn The phrase “all those who surround him” may refer to the surrounding nations (v. 12 may favor this), but in Ps 89:7 the phrase refers to God’s heavenly assembly.

93 tn Heb “he reduces the spirit of princes.” According to HALOT 148 s.v. II בצר, the Hebrew verb בָּצַר (batsar) is here a hapax legomenon meaning “reduce, humble.” The statement is generalizing, with the imperfect tense highlighting God’s typical behavior.

94 tn Heb “[he is] awesome to the kings of the earth.”