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Psalms 46, 80, and 135

Using the Blue Letter Bible chronological reading list, we have a brief pause between Isaiah 48 and 49. We revisit Hezekiah in II Kings 19 and then read these three psalms, 46, 80, and 135.

Psalm 46

A song of the sons of Korah.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea...

Psalm 46:1-2

God is a very present refuge. Not an idea or a hope, but help in trouble.

As long as we remember that He it is for His name's sake. He loves us; but He only owes us what He has promised. We haven't earned and don't deserve this kind of hope. The fact that we can trust Him tells us about His character, not ours.

Starting in verse 4 we see that these promises are directed at Israel, and Jerusalem, specifically.

  • There is a river that runs into Jerusalem, mentioned in verse 4.
  • the holy dwelling place of the Most High (which is has called Jerusalem repeatedly.)
  • God IS in the midst of her (That's present tense. The great I AM is in the midst of His holy city.)
  • God will help her when morning dawns. (His help comes in the morning. We have to remember that we're not promised no trouble, just that He is with us and help will come.)

Verse 6 reminds us that He can shake a kingdom or even the whole earth. Nothing and no one is too powerful for Him.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Psalm 46:7

Verses 8 and 9 lists even more of God's sovereignty and works of protection.

  • He can wrought desolation on the earth.
  • He can cease wars everywhere on earth
  • He can break the bow and the spear
  • and burn the chariots with fire

Human weapons and warfare are not bigger than God.

"Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The Lord of hosts is with us; The Lord of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.

Psalm 46: 10-11

The Ryrie Study Bible has a footnote that the historical events behind this psalm are probably the events from Hezekiah's reign, that we looked at in II Kings, II Chronicles, and Isaiah. However, it goes on to say that this psalm also seems to be the set-up for psalm 47 and the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.

For me, it is such an encouragement. The anchor to my hope and faith. When he enemy was, literally, at the gate, Hezekiah turned to the Lord. And when the Lord answered and promised that He would take care of Assyria (and boy did He), He specially told Hezekiah that it was a response to Hezekiah's prayer. We have to remember to cry out to the Lord in faith when trouble comes knocking.

He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Amen.

Psalm 80

A psalm of Asaph.

Eduth is a testimony.

This psalm starts out with a very different tone than Psalm 46. In 46 they were confidently claiming the protection and strength of God as a refuge. In this psalm, at least at the start, they are still in the phase of trouble where they are crying out to be saved. There is a difference. There are storms in life that cause significant damage and in the midst of the storm, begging to be saved may be the best we have in us. We're still turning toward God, but out of despair, not confidence.

In verses 1-3:

  • That ask their Shepherd to hear them.
  • They remind Him that He led their forefather Joseph
  • They honor Him with accurately placing Him on the throne above all
  • Again, they list some of the tribes of Israel, His chosen people and ask Him to save them. He lists Ephraim (which usually indicated the northern kingdom of Israel), and Benjamin (maybe the southern tribes?) and Manasseh (maybe the tribes that stayed on the other side of the Jordan?)

Starting in verse 4 they pour out their troubles:

  • Asking how long He will stay angry with His people
  • He has fed them with the bread of tears
  • He has made them to drink tears in large measure
  • He gives them trouble with their neighboring kingdoms
  • Their enemies are laughing at them

This paragraph ends with a plea for God to restore them; knowing that if He turns His face to them they will be saved.

At first glance, this may seem risky, blaming God for their troubles and tears, but we serve a loving God and acknowledging that their troubles are from God is finally acknowledging God as the one who can make these things happen. The Ryrie footnote claims that the backdrop of this psalm is the people of Judah (the southern kingdom) watching the final captivity of Israel (the northern kingdom). Not only are they in shock and dismay to see their fellow tribes taken into captivity, they can plainly see that they are next on Assyria's map of domination. This expression of God being responsible for the punishment finally acknowledges some of what got them into this mess. Doing what they wanted and forgetting about Him led to this trouble and now they are finally facing the right direction.

That sounds more judgemental than I mean it to. I've been them. I've brought trouble to my gate. I've even been completely taken captive by the enemy because of my terrible choices. But that's the difference I meant above between psalms 46 and 80. they are confident in 46 because Hezekiah was doing the right things and could trust in God for God's name sake. However, in 80 they are just coming to realize how bad the problem is and now they are finally turning to God. In those situations, you're less confident because you've sown and now you're reaping and there is no promise from God to stop consequences for our own actions.

Having said all of that, it's the right first step. Turn to God and ask to be saved.

Next they take the next step in digging out of their sin, they remind God of all He has done for them. Again, this isn't to raise God's self-esteem, or even to try and manipulate Him, it's for THEM to remember WHO HE IS. They had clearly forgotten during their long decline into this situation. It's time to reclaim their history with Him.

  • He brought them out of Egypt.
  • He drove out those who were living in the Promise Land ahead of Israel.
  • He made a fertile place for them to take root.
  • It became a leader in the region.
  • It even branched out across the Mediterranean Sea

And then they asked why all of that history turned into this situation in which the protective hedges have fallen, their fruit is being stolen, including being overrun by wild animals.

Again, they are acknowledging that they became great by the amazing gifts of the Lord and now those blessings have been removed. Job learned not to ask "why?", but it's worth asking why if we're sincerely searching our own hearts to see if it is happening due to seeds we've sown. Trouble isn't always directly due to our own choices; but it might be and it's a good first question.

Having laid out the troubles and the history, they plead for the Lord's salvation.

In the historical review of verses 8-13 they were using the metaphor of Israel as a vine, brought from Egypt, planted, and grown, then overrun. Now starting in verse 14, the metaphor continues as the singer plead with the Lord to return to caring for the vine.

It is burned with fire, it is cut down; they perish at the rebuke of Thy countenance.

Psalm 80: 16

They ask that His hand be turned back to them. They claim that they won't turn back from Him. they ask for revival as they call on the Name of the Lord. Again, they are now calling out for His name's sake. Calling on His Name, in which they refer to His character. They know they cannot claim help based on their own reputation. They can only call out to be saved based on who He is.

O Lord God of hosts, restore us; cause Thy face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.

Psalm 80:19

Our Father chastens us because He loves us and He wants us near Him for our own good. Amen.

Psalm 135

So, in Psalm 46 we see Israel confidently trust in the Lord as a refuge in times of trouble; in Psalm 80 they are crying out in a time of need. In Psalm 80, it's all about bringing the praise!

Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; praise Him, O servants of the Lord...

Psalm 135:1

The singers call out to those in the house of the Lord and the courts of the Lord to praise Him.

Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good; sing praises to His name, for it is lovely.

Psalm 135:3

What a blessing. I love praising the Lord and how encouraging it is to read about these singers lifting up His name.

They praise God for choosing Jacob (Israel).

They describe why He deserves praise. He is great, above all other gods. He has great power in heaven and earth, the seas, sky, and weather. (verses 5-7)

Then they review His history with His people--Egypt, military victories, and the Promise Land. (verse 8-12)

Starting in verse 13, they return to describing why God is worthy of praise.

  • His name
  • His faithfulness over generations
  • His judgment and compassion for His people

Then in verse 15-18 they compare the lifelessness of the idols and those who make the idols.

Finally, verses 19-21closes with a final call to bless the Lord--the house of Israel, the houses of Aaron and Levi (priests), and those who revere the Lord.

Blessed be the Lord from Zion, who dwells in Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!

Psalm 135:21

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