46:1 our refuge and strength. The word for refuge in this verse means “shelter.” The word “refuge” in Psalm 46:7,11, is stronger, meaning an impregnable high fortress. It is said that this psalm was largely the inspiration for Luther’s great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress.”
46:1 very present help. The modifier “very” in this verse is a strong word, indicating that God is an intensively present helper for His people in times of trouble.
46:2 mountains be carried. This is more than poetic imagery. The mountains were carried into the sea during the great Flood, and this will happen again in the coming tribulation period (Revelation 6:14; 16:20).
46:3 swelling therof. Selah. The first stanza of this psalm, reminding us of the awful judgment of the great Flood in ancient times, during which Noah and those in the ark were safely carried through by the same God who is our refuge and strength, ends with the contemplative pause denoted by “Selah.”
46:4 a river. The river out of Eden, dividing into four streams (Genesis 2:10-14), was a type of the great river flowing from the millennial temple (Ezekiel 47:1-12), and the even greater “pure river of water of life,...proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1, 2) in the holy city New Jerusalem.
46:4 the city of God. The city of God is not the church, but “the holy city, new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2), where will be the eternal dwelling place of God in the midst of His people. The city is not heaven, for it is “coming down from God out of heaven,” and will be established forever on the renewed earth. “The new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 66:22).
46:6 the heathen raged. See Psalm 2:1. The words for “rage” are different, but essentially synonymous. The result of this last raging of the nations against God will be the very dissolution of the earth. II Peter 3:10 says the earth “will melt.” The Hebrew word for “melt” actually means to be dissolved or to disappear.
46:9 maketh wars to cease. After the turmoil of the raging nations is put down by the Lord of hosts, then “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4). Although Satan will make one final attempt to gather the nations “together to battle” against God, they will all be devoured by fire “out of heaven” (Revelation 20:8-9).
46:10 Be still. Compare Exodus 14:13; Isaiah 30:7,15. It is often best just to leave matters in God’s hand, when problems are too great for ours.