The River

Psalms 46:1-4 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2-Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3-Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4-There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.”

We do not know who actually wrote this psalm or the specific time of its writing; however, some scholars believe that it is possible that it was written by the Prophet Isaiah during the siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians (II Chronicles, Chapter 23; II Kings, Chapter 18; Isaiah, Chapters 36-39). If that is so, then, no doubt, the Holy Spirit gave this to Isaiah in order that it be given to Hezekiah at Jerusalem.

If it was written today, it would have a double meaning:

God addresses Himself to the siege of Jerusalem by Senncherib; and

Even more so, it pertains to the siege of Jerusalem by the Antichrist (Zech. 14:1-13) when the Lord will defend Jerusalem and defeat the Antichrist in a great victory.

At that future day, God will be Israel’s only refuge and also “a very present help.”

However, I want to deal with the meaning these verses have for us today. I want to begin not with the beginning of Verse 1, but rather with the last word of that verse.


Just as Israel faced great trouble during Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem, and just as Israel will face great trouble during the time of the Antichrist, so too do we as believers face trouble in our own lives. In the Hebrew, the word trouble means “distress, a situation of extreme discomfort, affliction, or anguish.

There is no such thing as a life of ease and comfort as a believer, though we can have peace in the midst of trouble. Still, trouble and affliction are going to come our way. We are in a system of the world that is ruled by demon spirits that war against the child of God (Eph. 6:12). Peter addressed this in I Peter 4:12: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”

We are in a spiritual war, and Satan is not going to let up. His attacks cover every aspect of one’s life and living – spiritual, physical, financial, emotional, and domestic.

Not only do we have to contend with Satan and his minions, but let’s face it, our biggest problem is us. We make foolish decisions; we listen to people with their bad advice. We don’t seek the Lord, and we let our flesh rule, but believe me, the flesh must be fed, and it’s never good.

The Lord also allows trouble to come our way to teach us dependence, trust, and faith, and even more so, to teach us how fallible we are. In Deuteronomy 8:2, it says: “And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you … and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments, or no,” and as the notes in The Expositor’s Study Bible say regarding this verse: “With the believer, everything is a test. How will we act? How will we react?”

So, the trouble is going to come, yet we have a promise.


The text begins with the heart-stirring promise, “God is our refuge.” The Hebrew word for God is, of course, “Elohim,” and as it is used here, it conveys to us that God is the Creator, the King, the Judge, the Lord, and the Saviour. He is everything we need.

The word refuge means a “place of safety and protection, security, and a place of hope.” He is the One; we are to run to Him, and we are to place our trust in Him. His refuge is complete and secure. His refuge provides for us everything we need during the time of trouble.


Verse 1 says that not only is the Lord our refuge, but He is also our strength. Strength in the Hebrew means “power and might,” and the greatest expression of His power and might was His victory over Satan on Calvary’s Cross and His glorious resurrection.


This tells us that the Lord is our help now. He is a now God. His power is now, His grace is now, His joy is now, His healing is now, and His miracles are now. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).


Fear plagues all of us at times; however, we need not fear for the Lord is working for us, fighting for us, providing for us, and interceding for us.


Verse 4 begins with “There is a river.” This river is the river of God. It refers to the great river that will flow out from under the sanctuary in the coming kingdom age. It will grow larger as it goes, with one part going to the Dead Sea, and it will bring life to that which was once dead. The moment the river touches the Dead Sea, it will be filled with fish. The river is a type of the Holy Spirit, of which water represents the Holy Spirit as life. This is life that is beyond anything you can imagine. The only true life there is, is the life which flows from the Holy Spirit. The river will sustain you, the river will bring joy and gladness of heart, and the river can take that which is barren and bring forth life. The river – the Holy Spirit –  is the strength and power of the believer and the church. We must get into the river, and we must let the river get into us, for that is where we find true life.

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