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Pause Instead of Panic

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Psalms 45–47

We live in uncertain times, but with the certainty that God is in control; He reigns over all His creation. Psalms 45–47 teach us that we have a refuge in Him now and the sure hope of worshiping Him in His immediate presence in the coming 


Pause Instead of Panic

Psalms 45–47

Years ago, newspapers were sold by vendors on street corners. And it wasn’t unusual to see some child with a stack of papers, calling out to people to “read all about it.” These children were nicknamed “newsies” because of the news they delivered.

Back in those days, after a newspaper was printed, sometimes an extraordinary event would take place and newspapers would quickly print what they called, “an extra”—a smaller edition. They would hire children for a few pennies a day to get out there and call out, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”[1] Something is happening, and you need to know about it.

Well, that kind of urgency and excitement is the same feeling I get when I read these next few psalms. These psalms are big news.

Psalm 45 is the publication of a wedding song for the king and his bride. It could have been, originally, for the wedding of Solomon and the daughter of Pharaoh; or it could have been written for the wedding of King Hezekiah and his bride, or another of Israel’s kings. But it also serves as a prophetic wedding picture of the bride of Christ being taken into the palace of the Lord.

In fact, the writer of the book of Hebrews quotes Psalm 45:6 and applies it to Jesus Christ. God the Father is speaking to God the Son and quotes this verse in Hebrews 1:8:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.

This is one of the most powerful verses in the New Testament declaring the deity of Jesus. God the Father Himself calls Jesus God and refers to His throne as eternal.

One day the redeemed will be presented to the Lord as a bride proceeding down the aisle toward her groom. You can just see the wedding procession here in verses 13-15:

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. In many-colored robes she is led to the king, with her virgin companions following behind her – [those are the bridesmaids]. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.

Now in Psalm 46, the heading tells us that this song should be sung “according to alamoth.” Alamoth is a Hebrew word meaning “young women.” We are not sure, but this psalm might have been sung by the soprano section of the choir.

Psalm 46 is intended to be soothing and calming and reassuring to the believer, and it certainly is.

The psalm is divided into three stanzas, and each stanza ends with the word selah. Selah is a musical notation to pause and reflect. The composer is essentially saying here, “Stop a moment and think about what you have just heard or sung.” Selah means, “Slow down, and think it through.”

The average Christian needs more pausing and less panicking. I don’t know about you, but I need more selah in my heart and life.

The first stanza opens in verse 1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The word for “trouble” is from a Hebrew verb that means to be restricted, to be cramped or in a narrow place, to be stuck in a tight spot in life.

This means that God does not promise you the absence of trouble; trouble is part of life. Sometimes there is no way out of it and no way around it—you just have to go through it. And the psalmist says, God is your confidence and your strength as you go through it with Him.

How bad can the trouble be? Well, look at verses 2-3: “Though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam.” That sounds like a lot of trouble.

Notice the repetition of the word though. Though this is happening, God is your refuge and strength. “Though” could be rendered, “Although.”

What is the “although” you could say about the trouble you are facing today?

  • Although I have just gone bankrupt
  • Although my job just ended
  • Although a close friend betrayed me
  • Although our retirement savings were lost
  • Although my marriage ended
  • Although the doctors have no answer
  • Although a loved one died
  • Although that accident just occurred

Although . . . although. Selah, think about that. The psalmist is teaching us to trust God in spite of everything. God is always available and aware.

Stanza number two begins in verse 4: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.” This has prophetic implications. Not only is God our present refuge, but the city of God will one day be our permanent refuge.

John describes this city in detail in Revelation 21:3-4:

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Beloved, one day there will be peace on the earth. In the meantime, there can be peace in your heart that God is in control.[2] So, Selah, just think about that today.

Stanza number 3 begins, and it presents a promise of coming peace on earth. Verse 9 tells us that the Lord “makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.” This is a prophetic promise of the coming kingdom of God through Christ, when He brings all war to an end.

By the way, God gets blamed all the time for war on earth. God does not start the wars on earth between nations—people take care of that all by themselves. But one day God will end all war.

That is not going to happen because the nations make some kind of resolution. Those things don’t last long enough for the ink to dry. And it’s not going to happen because the right person is sitting in the White House or in one of the parliaments of our world. This will happen only when Jesus is seated on His throne in the coming kingdom.

And understand this: the psalmist is not just speaking about our troubled world; he is also speaking about our troubled heart.

Verse 10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Be still—in the Hebrew, that is a term for relax, don’t panic. In other words, stop trying to manipulate people around you; stop trying to orchestrate all the events of your life; stop trying to be in control of everything. Be still!

Stop trying to play God and just know that He is God. If God can take care of the nations, can He not take care of you?

This resolve to “be still” replaces panic and brings peace to our hearts. And it leads us into joyful anticipation.

Now in Psalm 47, we are given a prophetic picture of the end of days and the kingdom of Jesus on earth. The psalm begins by issuing an invitation to all the citizens of this coming kingdom who have acknowledged by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as King. Here is the invitation:

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. (verses 1-2)

What a day that will be, as Jesus reigns over His millennial kingdom on earth.

This is the headline of all headlines. Here is all the extra, extra you need to read for today, and verse 8 shouts the news: “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.”

[1] Kali Coleman, “The Origin Story Behind Newspaper Carriers Yelling “Extra! Extra!” BestLife, October 3, 2019,

[2] Donald Williams, Mastering the Old Testament: Psalms 1-72 (Word Publishing, 1986), 47.

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