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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 46:3

 

 

Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Though the waters thereof roar - Waters, in prophetic language, signify people; and, generally, people in a state of political commotion, here signified by the term roar. And by these strong agitations of the people, the mountains - the secular rulers, shake with the swelling thereof - tremble, for fear that these popular tumults should terminate in the subversion of the state. This very people had seen all Asia in a state of war. The Persians had overturned Asia Minor, and destroyed the Babylonian empire: they had seen Babylon itself sacked and entered by the Persians; and Cyrus, its conqueror, had behaved to them as a father and deliverer. While their oppressors were destroyed, themselves were preserved, and permitted to return to their own land.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-46.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled - The waters of the sea. The idea is, that they would not be afraid though everything should be in commotion, and be as unsettled as the restless waves of the ocean. The earth might be changed, the mountains removed, the agitated sea roar and dash against the shore, but their minds would be calm. The word rendered “be troubled” means to boil; to ferment; to foam; and here it refers to the ocean as agitated and lashed into foam. Nothing is more sublime and fearful than the ocean in a storm; nothing furnishes a better illustration of the peace produced by confidence in God amid the agitations which occur in the world, than the mind of a seaman that is calm when the ocean is heaved in wild commotion.

Though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof - The rolling ocean breaking against; the sides of the mountains on its shore, and seeming to shake them to their foundation. The word rendered “swelling” means properly majesty, glory; then pride, haughtiness, insolence. Literally, “though the mountains tremble through their pride.” Compare Psalm 124:5. On the word “Selah,” see the notes at Psalm 3:2.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-46.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,.... The noise of which causes men's hearts to fail them for fear, Luke 21:25;

though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. All these figurative expressions denote the hurlyburlies, confusions, and disorders that have been or will be in the world; amidst all which the people of God have no reason to fear; for it is always well with the righteous, let it go how it will with others. The passage may be applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the wars preceding it, and the dispersion of the Jews upon it; when true believers in Christ found him to be their refuge, strength, and help in that time of trouble, such as never was the like, and were safe and without fear; and Aben Ezra, a Jewish commentator, thinks it is right to interpret this psalm concerning the wars of Jerusalem: moreover, these words may be applied to any other time of calamity, through war or persecution, that has been since; as also to any that is to come; as to the slaying of the witnesses, the hour of temptation that will try all that are upon the earth; and even to the day of judgment, when heaven and earth shall flee away from the face of the Judge; when the heavens shall be folded up as a garment, and the earth, and all that is therein, shall be burnt up, and the whole world of the ungodly shall be thrown into the utmost panic, the saints will be safe with Christ, and ever happy with him; and, in the worst of times in this world, God is always their covenant God, their shield, portion, and exceeding great reward; Christ is their Redeemer and Saviour, their city of refuge, and strong hold; and though they may be plundered of their goods and property, they have a better and a more enduring substance in heaven; an estate, an inheritance there, that can never be taken away; and even should their enemies kill the body, that is the utmost they can do; their souls are safe in the hands of Christ; their life is hid with him; and when he shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory; and therefore they may well say, "we will not fear"F23"Si fractus illabatur orbis", &c. Horat. Carmin. l. 3. Ode. 3. v. 7. .

Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-46.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

[Though] the waters thereof d roar [and] be troubled, [though] the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

(d) Though the afflictions rage, yet the rivers of God's mercies bring sufficient comfort to his.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-46.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

swelling — well represents the pride and haughtiness of insolent foes.


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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-46.html. 1871-8.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

3Though the waters thereof roar, etc This verse ought to be read in connection with the verse which follows, because it is necessary to complete the sense, as if it had been said: Though the waters of the sea roar and swell, and by their fierce impetuosity shake the very mountains — even in the midst of these dreadful tumults, the holy city of God will continue to enjoy comfort and peace, satisfied with her small streams. The relative pronoun her, according to the common usage of the Hebrew language, is superfluous in this place. The prophet intended simply to say, that the small streams of a river would afford to the holy city abundant cause of rejoicing, though the whole world should be moved and destroyed. I have already mentioned shortly before how profitable is the doctrine taught us in this place, that our faith is really and truly tested only when we are brought into very severe conflicts, and when even hell itself seems opened to swallow us up. In like manner, we have portrayed to us the victory of faith over the whole world, when, in the midst of the utmost confusion, it unfolds itself, and begins to raise its head in such a manner as that although the whole creation seem to be banded together, and to have conspired for the destruction of the faithful, it nevertheless triumphs over all fear. Not that the children of God, when placed in peril, indulge in jesting or make a sport of death, but the help which God has promised them more than overbalances, in their estimation, all the evils which inspire them with fear. The sentiment of Horace is very beautiful, when, speaking of the righteous man and the man who feels conscious of no guilt, he says, (Car., Lib. iii., Od. 3,)

Dux inquieti turbidus Adriae,
Nec fulminantis magna Jovis manus,
Si fractus illabitur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinae
.”

“Let the wild winds that rule the seas,
Tempestuous, all their horrors raise;
Let Jove’s dread arm with thunders rend the spheres;
Beneath the crush of worlds undaunted he appears.”
(176)

But as no such person as he imagines could ever be found, he only trifles in speaking as he does. Their fortitude, therefore, has its foundation in the assurance of the divine protection alone, so that they who rely upon God, and put their trust in him, may truly boast, not only that they shall be undismayed, but also that they shall be preserved in security and safety amidst the ruins of a falling world.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-46.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 46:3 [Though] the waters thereof roar [and] be troubled, [though] the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Ver. 3. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled] Heb. Be mudded; yet we will not fear, viz. with base distrustful fear, Ut omnes procellae horribili cum boatu circumsonent. Tauti est experientiam sensumque auxilii divini habere. The tempestuous rising and roaring of the sea is so terrible, that Aristotle saith, whosoever feareth it not is either mad or senseless (Ethic. 3. 7). Fear not, saith the angel to St Paul himself in that dreadful storm, Acts 27:24, which implieth that be was afraid with a natural fear; and he might be so without sin. An awful fear of God is consistent with faith; neither is any believer guilty of a stoic apathy. The very devils believe and tremble, James 2:19. The apostle’s word there implieth that they roar as the sea roareth, and shriek horribly.

Though the mountains shake, &c.] As sometimes promontories fall with the force and impetuous beating of the sea upon them. Admit all this and more (whether in a sense literal or alle. gorical; set forth it is in a strain high and hyperbolic), yet we will bear up, and be bold to believe that all shall go well with us. Id quod Propheta miris verborum figuris additis iilustrat (Beza).


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-46.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 46:3. Though the waters thereof roar We have before observed, that it is familiar with David to consider a vast host of the enemy under the idea of a flood of waters; a noble instance of which we have in this verse: and I should only beg leave to add David's own comment upon it, as one of the finest instances of the sublime which the imagination can conceive, Psalms 46:6. The heathen raged;—the kingdoms were moved; he uttered his voice:—the earth melted. Delaney, Life of David, b. 3: chap. 3.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-46.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Though the sea be very tempestuous, and its waters (by which a multitude of people is oft signified, as Revelation 17:1,15) rage, to Wit, against us, as appears from the following verses. Though its raging waves assault mighty princes and kingdoms, and make them shake and be ready to fall down.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-46.html. 1685.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

waters thereof roar. Figure of speech Hypocatastasis (App-6), implying the raging of the Assyrian host without.

roar. Same word as "raged" (Psalms 46:6).

Selah. Connecting the roaring of the waters without with the silent flowing river in the rock-cut channel beneath Zion, and contrasting the boastings of the enemy with the secret purposes of God. No refrain "dropped out" here, as some suggest. See the Structure above, and App-68.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-46.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

(Though) the waters thereof roar, and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. What a beautiful contrast there is between the roaring waters here and the still "river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God!" (Psalms 46:4.) Overwhelming waters represent invading hosts (Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 17:12). The "sea" (Psalms 46:2) is the world, never still, "like a troubled sea when it cannot rest," through selfishness, pride, and ambition (Isaiah 57:20). IN this sea are the mountain-like world-empires (Psalms 46:2). Compare Isaiah 27:1, "the dragon that is in the sea;" Daniel 7:2-3, "the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea, and four great beasts (the four great empires) came up from the sea" (Revelation 17:15). "The swelling" of the sea is the haughty elation of spirit which keeps the world in ceaseless agitation. So "the stout heart" (Hebrew, 'the greatness of the heart') of the King of Assyria, "and the glory of his high looks" is specially marked for punishment (Isaiah 10:12-13; cf. Psalms 89:9).


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-46.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(3) Though the waters . . .—The original is very expressive in its conciseness:

“They roar, they foam, its waters.”

Comp. Homer’s equally concise description, including in three words the “rush,” the “swell,” and the “roar” of ocean (Iliad, xxiii. 230).

Swelling.—Or, pride. (Comp. Job 38:11.) The change in construction in this verse seems to confirm the suspicion that the refrain has dropped away.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-46.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
the waters
18:4; 93:3,4; Job 38:11; Isaiah 5:3; 17:12,13; Jeremiah 5:22; Matthew 7:25; Revelation 17:15
mountains
114:4-7; Judges 5:4,5; 1 Kings 19:11; Job 9:5,6; Jeremiah 4:24; Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5; Revelation 16:20

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 46:3". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-46.html.

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