Tehillim / Psalms 46, Part 2, Under what Condition is God our Refuge and Strength?

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This week’s study is from Tehillim / Psalms 46:1-11, David opens the Psalm saying, א לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי-קֹרַח עַל-עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר: For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song. (NASB) The Psalm continues saying ב אֱלֹהִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת נִמְצָא מְאֹד: ג עַל-כֵּן לֹא-נִירָא בְּהָמִיר אָרֶץ וּבְמוֹט הָרִים בְּלֵב יַמִּים: 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; (NASB) Based upon Parashat Ha’azinu, on the time-scale of mankind, the earth is considered to be unmovable. The idea of the earth changing and the mountains slipping into the sea appears to be an impossible thing, yet in the midst of these things the Lord is our strength and refuge, He is able to help us no matter what the circumstance as in the case of the waters roaring and foaming and the mountains quaking (ד יֶהֱמוּ יֶחְמְרוּ מֵימָיו יִרְעֲשׁוּ הָרִים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ סֶלָה:). David continues saying ה נָהָר פְּלָגָיו יְשַֹמְּחוּ עִיר-אֱלֹהִים קְדשׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן: ו אֱלֹהִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ בַּל-תִּמּוֹט יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹהִים לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר: 6:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. 46:5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. (NASB) What is that river that makes the city of God glad? In the case of the Lord God being in the midst of the city, is He in the midst of the city at all times? What about the times when the people behaved wickedly? In Yeshua the Messiah, how does behaving wickedly effect what He has done in our lives? David says ז הָמוּ גוֹיִם מָטוּ מַמְלָכוֹת נָתַן בְּקוֹלוֹ תָּמוּג אָרֶץ: 46:6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. (NASB) However, ח יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְֹגָּב-לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה: ט לְכוּ-חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר-שָֹם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ: י מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת עַד-קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ קֶשֶׁת יְשַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּץ חֲנִית עֲגָלוֹת יִשְֹרֹף בָּאֵשׁ: יא הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ כִּי-אָנֹכִי אֱלֹהִים אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ: 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. 46:8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. 46:9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 46:10 ‘Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ (NASB) The Lord is our strength, He saves us from our enemies, He causes wars to cease breaking the weapons of war, and the psalmist calls the people to cease their striving, the Lord will be exalted among the nations. The Psalm concludes saying יב יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְֹגָּב-לָֹנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה:46:11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. (NASB)

עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek

ספר תהלים פרק מו

א לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי-קֹרַח עַל-עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר: ב אֱלֹהִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת נִמְצָא מְאֹד: ג עַל-כֵּן לֹא-נִירָא בְּהָמִיר אָרֶץ וּבְמוֹט הָרִים בְּלֵב יַמִּים: ד יֶהֱמוּ יֶחְמְרוּ מֵימָיו יִרְעֲשׁוּ הָרִים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ סֶלָה:

סםר טוביה פרק מו

א לשבחא על ידיהון דבני קרח ברוח נבואה בזמן דאתכסי אבוהון מנהון והינון ואינון אשתזבו ואמרו שירתא׃ ב אלהא לנא רוחצנא ועושנא סייעתא סיוע בעקתא נשבכח לחדא׃ ג מטול היכנא לא נדחל בעידן כד דאשתלחיפו אבהן מן ארעא כד מתמוטטין היך טוריא בפילגוס דימא רבא׃

YALMOI 46

46:1 εἰς τὸ τέλος ὑπὲρ τῶν υἱῶν Κορε ὑπὲρ τῶν κρυφίων ψαλμός ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν καταφυγὴ καὶ δύναμις βοηθὸς ἐν θλίψεσιν ταῖς εὑρούσαις ἡμᾶς σφόδρα 46:2 διὰ τοῦτο οὐ φοβηθησόμεθα ἐν τῷ ταράσσεσθαι τὴν γῆν καὶ μετατίθεσθαι ὄρη ἐν καρδίαις θαλασσῶν 46:3 ἤχησαν καὶ ἐταράχθησαν τὰ ὕδατα αὐτῶν ἐταράχθησαν τὰ ὄρη ἐν τῇ κραταιότητι αὐτοῦ διάψαλμα

ה נָהָר פְּלָגָיו יְשַֹמְּחוּ עִיר-אֱלֹהִים קְדשׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן: ו אֱלֹהִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ בַּל-תִּמּוֹט יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹהִים לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר: ז הָמוּ גוֹיִם מָטוּ מַמְלָכוֹת נָתַן בְּקוֹלוֹ תָּמוּג אָרֶץ: ח יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְֹגָּב-לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה: ט לְכוּ-חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר-שָֹם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ: י מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת עַד-קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ קֶשֶׁת יְשַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּץ חֲנִית עֲגָלוֹת יִשְֹרֹף בָּאֵשׁ: יא הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ כִּי-אָנֹכִי אֱלֹהִים אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ: יב יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְֹגָּב-לָֹנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה:

ד מתרגשין משתגשין מטשטשין מוהי מן עפרהון מתרגפין טוריא בגיוותנותך לעלמין׃ ה עמין עממין היך נהרין ומבועיהון וטופיהון אתיין ומחדיין קרתא דיהוה דאלהא ומצלין בבית מקדשיה דיהוה משכניה עילאה׃ ו שכינתא דיהוה בגוה אלהא ושכינתיה במצעה לא תזוע יסייעינה יהוה בזכותיה דאברהם דצלי עלה לעידוני צפרא׃ ז במיתן אוריתא לעמיה איתרגשו עמיא עממיא אזדעזעו מלכותא כד ארים קליה וכד יהב אוריתא לעמיה איתמוגגו יתבי ארעא׃ ח מימרא דיהוה צבאות בסעדנא תקוף לנא אלהא דיעקב לעלמין׃ ט אזילו חמון עובדיא דיהוה דשוי צדיין ברישיעי ארעא׃ י מבטל קרבא עד סייפי ארעא קשתא יתבר ויתרערע ויתרע מורניתא תריסיא עגילין יוקיד בנורא׃ יא פסקו מן סדרי קרבא וידעון ארום אנא יהוה רמא בעמיא רמא על יתבי ארעא׃ יב מימרא דיהוה צבאות בסעדנא תקוף לנא אלהא דיעקב לעלמין׃

46:4 τοῦ ποταμοῦ τὰ ὁρμήματα εὐφραίνουσιν τὴν πόλιν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡγίασεν τὸ σκήνωμα αὐτοῦ ὁ ὕψιστος 46:5 ὁ θεὸς ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς οὐ σαλευθήσεται βοηθήσει αὐτῇ ὁ θεὸς τὸ πρὸς πρωί 46:6 ἐταράχθησαν ἔθνη ἔκλιναν βασιλεῖαι ἔδωκεν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἐσαλεύθη ἡ γῆ 46:7 κύριος τῶν δυνάμεων μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἀντιλήμπτωρ ἡμῶν ὁ θεὸς Ιακωβ διάψαλμα 46:8 δεῦτε ἴδετε τὰ ἔργα κυρίου ἃ ἔθετο τέρατα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς 46:9 ἀνταναιρῶν πολέμους μέχρι τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς τόξον συντρίψει καὶ συγκλάσει ὅπλον καὶ θυρεοὺς κατακαύσει ἐν πυρί 46:10 σχολάσατε καὶ γνῶτε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεός ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τῇ γῇ 46:11 κύριος τῶν δυνάμεων μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἀντιλήμπτωρ ἡμῶν ὁ θεὸς Ιακωβ

In this week’s study, from Tehillim / Psalms 46:1-11, David opens the Psalm saying, א לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי-קֹרַח עַל-עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר: For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song. (NASB) David composes this Psalm for the Sons of Korach and states עַל-עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר and these words are transliterated into the English language. Searching for frequency of occurrence of words in the Tanach, the word “alamoth” appears to occur only in 1 Chronicles 15:20 and Tehillim / Psalms 46:1. Brown Driver and Briggs Lexicon states “alamoth” is the plural of עַלְמָה which means “virgin, young woman, of marriageable age, maid or newly married.” Taking the translation of “alamoth” from its root based on BDB Lexidon, the exact meaning within the context of the Psalm is a bit questionable. Searching the Hebrew lexicons, the basic consensus is that the word “alamoth” is defined as “a term in psalm heading.” The meaning of the Hebrew term עֲלָמוֹת (alamoth, which means “young women” plural) is uncertain and perhaps it refers to a particular style of music? The Aramaic Targum states א לשבחא על ידיהון דבני קרח ברוח נבואה בזמן דאתכסי אבוהון מנהון והינון ואינון אשתזבו ואמרו שירתא׃ 46:1 For praise, by the sons of Korah, through the spirit of prophecy when their father was hidden from them, but they were saved, and they recited this song. (EMC) According to the Rabbis, this Psalm is written through the spirit of prophecy specifically when Korach died in the wilderness (see Parashat Korach) and his children were saved. The rabbis teach midrashically that the Sons of Korach sung this song when they were saved and their father perished. The Septuagint states 46:1 εἰς τὸ τέλος ὑπὲρ τῶν υἱῶν Κορε ὑπὲρ τῶν κρυφίων ψαλμός… For the end, for the sons of Core; a Psalm concerning secret things. (LXX) Why do the rabbis who translated this Psalm into Greek say ὑπὲρ τῶν κρυφίων ψαλμός “a Psalm concerning secret things?” What is the secret thing that they are referring to? Could it be a reference to the nations who do not know God which is paralleled to Korach who in similar manner perished because he too did not know God or obey His word?

Tehillim / Psalms 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; 46:3 Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah. 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. 46:5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 46:6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. 46:8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. 46:9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 46:10 ‘Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ 46:11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. (NASB)

Toviyah / Psalms Chapter 46

46:1 For praise, by the sons of Korah, through the spirit of prophecy when their father was hidden from them, but they were saved, and they recited this song. 46:2 God is for us security and strength; a help in distress we shall find indeed. 46:3 Because of this we will not be afraid in the time our fathers passed from the land, when the mountains totter in the depth of the great sea. 46:4 His waters shake, they become muddy from their dust; the mountains tremble in your pride forever. 46:5 Peoples like rivers and their fountains come and make glad the city of the Lord, and they pray in the Lord’s sanctuary, his exalted dwelling. 46:6 The presence of the Lord is within it, it will not be shaken; the Lord will help her for the merit of Abraham who prayed on it at the morning hours. 46:7 When the Torah was given to his people, the Gentiles trembled; kingdoms shook when he raised his voice; and when he gave the Torah to his people, the inhabitants of the earth melted. 46:8 The word of the Lord Sabaoth is our help; the God of Jacob is a stronghold for us forever. 46:9 Come, see the deeds of the Lord who has put devastation on the wicked of the land. 46:10 He annuls war to the ends of the earth; he will break the bow and shatter the lance; the round shields he will burn with fire. 46:11 Cease from war, and know that I am the Lord, exalted among the peoples, exalted over the inhabitants of the earth. 46:12 The word of the Lord Sabaoth is our help; the God of Jacob is a stronghold for us forever. (NASB)

Psalmoi / Psalms 46

For the end, for the sons of Core; a Psalm concerning secret things. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a help in the afflictions that have come heavily upon us. 46:2 Therefore will we not fear when the earth is troubled, and the mountains are removed into the depths of the seas. 46:3 Their waters have roared and been troubled, the mountains have been troubled by his might. Pause. 46:4 The flowings of the river gladden the city of God: the Most High has sanctified his tabernacle. 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her with his countenance. 46:6 The nations were troubled, the kingdoms tottered: he uttered his voice, the earth shook. 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our helper. Pause. 46:8 Come, and behold the works of the Lord, what wonders he has achieved on the earth. 46:9 Putting an end to wars as for the ends of the earth; he will crush the bow, and break in pieces the weapon, and burn the bucklers with fire. 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. 46:11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our helper. (LXX)

The Psalm continues saying ב אֱלֹהִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת נִמְצָא מְאֹד: ג עַל-כֵּן לֹא-נִירָא בְּהָמִיר אָרֶץ וּבְמוֹט הָרִים בְּלֵב יַמִּים: 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 46:2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; (NASB) Based upon Parashat Ha’azinu, and the time-scale of mankind, the earth is considered to be unmovable. By “on the time-scale of mankind” is meant that mans life on earth was limited to 120 years which is considerable shorter than that of the earth from the creation (Bereshit / Genesis 1). The idea of the earth changing and the mountains slipping into the sea appears to be something that happens either on a long time-scale or in an immediate disaster that occurs rapidly. The psalmist says in the midst of these things, the Lord is our strength and our refuge. According to Parashat Ha’azinu (“to listen, give ear,” Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1-52), the entire Torah portion Moshe writes is devoted as a song that he spoke to the children of Israel. In Parashat Vayelech (Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30), the Lord God told Moshe that Joshua will lead the people after his death. The Lord inspired Moshe to write down this song (וְעַתָּה כִּתְבוּ לָכֶם אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת) and the song will be a witness against them (Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:29-30). 31:30 Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete (NASB.) In the opening verses of Parashat Ha’azinu, Moshe calls Heaven (הַשָּׁמַיִם) and Earth (הָאָרֶץ) as witnesses to the covenant (הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וַאֲדַבֵּרָה וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ אִמְרֵי-פִי). Calling the solid unmoving (unchanging) Heaven and Earth as a witness suggesting that the unmovable things are watching should the children of Israel break the covenant and disobey God. In these verses, Moshe appears to be speaking of the eternality of the Promises and the Land that will bear testimony in the event that Israel sins (violates the covenant). Moshe proclaims the name of the Lord (כִּי שֵׁם יְהוָֹה אֶקְרָא) saying He is our Rock (הַצּוּר), that His work is perfect (תָּמִים פָּעֳלוֹ), all of his ways are in truth (כִּי כָל-דְּרָכָיו מִשְׁפָּט אֵל אֱמוּנָה), there is no injustice (אֵין עָוֶל), only righteousness (צַדִּיק) and that He is right or straight (וְיָשָׁר) , the Lord God is upright and just. Moshe says שִׁחֵת לוֹ לֹא בָּנָיו מוּמָם דּוֹר עִקֵּשׁ וּפְתַלְתֹּל “They have acted corruptly toward Him, They are not His children, because of their defect; But are a perverse and crooked generation.” In these opening verses, Moshe is contrasting the absolute goodness of God with the corruption of mankind. Parashat Ha’azinu speaks of the question “Do I take for granted the mercy of God?” “Am I examining my heart closely enough to know where my devotion really lays, in a love for God and His ways or out of the pride of life before others?” And “Does my life truly demonstrate (indicate) that I am a covenant member of His holy kingdom?” Have you ever asked yourself those questions before?

In Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:5, Moshe accuses the children of Israel saying you are a perverse and crooked generation. In Ginsburg’s Masoretic Text, the letter פ is enlarged giving emphasis on the word “u’ftaltol” וּפְתַלְתֹּל meaning “twisted,” the NASB translates as “crooked.” In the Hebrew language, the word וּפְתַלְתֹּל is among the “doubled root-letter” words were the last two letters of the root are repeated. It is believed that this doubling of the letters is meant for emphasis in the sense that the root word “fatal” פתל means “to twist” and “u’ftaltol” וּפְתַלְתֹּל means “twisted.” This word may then be translated to mean “you are twisters” or “you are perverters” which is a serious accusation Moshe is making against the people. The text says that the people twist God’s word making them לֹא בָּנָיו מוּמָם דּוֹר “not his children, a deformed/malformed generation” because of the corruptness of their hearts. When David wrote this Psalm making mention of the earth changing and the mountains slipping into the sea, was he drawing a parallel to the corruptness of mans heart and the mercy of God to be our refuge and strength to reveal God’s love for His people?

Examining Parashat Ha’azinu further, in Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:6, the letter ה is also enlarged drawing emphasis to this word in verse 6 similarly to that in verse 5. The marginal Masorah has a lot more to say about this verse since there is more variation within the Hebrew manuscripts on the letter ה as compared to the previous letter פ. The Scribes who copied the Torah scrolls, according to the Masorah, some traditions have the word joined as one word הליהוה, the Babylonian tradition separates הל from יהוה, and the Syrian tradition has it as we see it here in Ginsburg’s Masoretic text (הַלְיהוָֹה). Ginsburg chose to render this verse in the Syrian tradition. In the Hebrew Language, we know that the ה can introduce a question and is usually vowelized with a patach, the niqqud vowel sign represented by a horizontal line. Ginsburg’s choice for writing the text this way suggests that the ה may be introducing a question and this is the traditional translation of the text with a question on how we repay the Lord. (32:6 ‘Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you. NASB) Note that this verse dispels the idea that according to the Torah man earned his salvation by bringing a sacrifice (i.e. the teaching that man needed to bring a sacrifice in order to be forgiven). In addition to this, Parashat Ha’azinu is a song, and the Psalms are known as songs David composed, Tehillim / Psalms 46 specifically is composed for the Sons of Korach. Parashat Ha’azinu is contrasting disobedience with obedience before the Lord and contrasting the absolute goodness of God with the corruptness of our hearts. The Scriptures speak about obedience and disobedience, and Moshe says the people are crooked and twisted. The lewd imaginations of the people deceive them and God sees their crooked and twisted imaginations. The Lord sees our twisted imaginations today too. Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:6 states ו הַלְיהוָֹה תִּגְמְלוּ-זֹאת עַם נָבָל וְלֹא חָכָם הֲלוֹא-הוּא אָבִיךָ קָּנֶךָ הוּא עָשְֹךָ וַיְכֹנֲנֶךָ 32:6 ‘Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you. King Solomon later wrote in Mishley / Proverbs 21:2, כָּל-דֶּרֶךְ אִישׁ יָשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו וְתֹכֵן לִבּוֹת יְהֹוָה 21:2 Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. (NASB) Within each one of us there is a certain amount of the imagination that has the possibility of leading us astray (e.g. take for example the idea that we make a false assumption about others and then walk contrary to the Scriptural requirement of being gracious to one another).

Considering these scriptures from Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:6 and Mishley / Proverbs 21:2-3, the Lord our Father has purchased us (אָבִיךָ קָּנֶךָ הוּא) and He has established (לכונן) us (עָשְֹךָ וַיְכֹנֲנֶךָ) and that a correct relationship with the Lord is based on our hearts being just (מִשְׁפָּט) and righteous (צְדָקָה) before God (circumcision of the heart). Other Scriptures state that obedience is greater than sacrifice (e.g. 1 Samuel 15:22). What is the Lord trying to say in the Scriptures about sacrifice since, if the Temple existed, the offering of a sacrifice would be observing Torah? Is the Torah requirement for atonement in blood not important? These passages do not denigrate, belittle, or marginalize the importance of sacrifice. According to David in the Psalm, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Tehillim / Psalms 46:1). The point is whether our hearts are right or wrong (i.e. crooked and twisted) before God. If our hearts are wrong, how effective will our walk be before the Lord? If our hearts are twisted and crooked the path we walk will also be twisted and crooked. The principle that Moshe is teaching is that the Lord has purchased and established us, we do not purchase and establish ourselves. The bringing of a sacrifice is not what has “paid for,” “purchased,” or “established us” in the Lord. What establishes us is our faith in the Lord and His promises and the evidence of the Holy Spirit working in our lives enabling us to walk in righteousness (צְדָקָה) and justice (מִשְׁפָּט) towards God and towards others. This Torah principle of being “purchased and established” is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote Romans 4:13-5:1 in the Apostolic Writings.

The Aramaic Targum states ב אלהא לנא רוחצנא ועושנא סייעתא סיוע בעקתא נשבכח לחדא׃ ג מטול היכנא לא נדחל בעידן כד דאשתלחיפו אבהן מן ארעא כד מתמוטטין היך טוריא בפילגוס דימא רבא׃ 46:2 God is for us security and strength; a help in distress we shall find indeed. 46:3 Because of this we will not be afraid in the time our fathers passed from the land, when the mountains totter in the depth of the great sea. (EMC) The rabbis are certain that the Lord is our strength and security in the time of distress. They say that we will not be afraid in the time our fathers passed from the land. Why would we be afraid when our fathers passed from the land? This may be a reference to the Sons of Korach who would have been afraid when their father passed from the land, the ground opened up and swallowed him alive. It seems that our fathers maybe paralleled to mountains and those mountains perishing in the sea. An interesting point here is that the centrality of the covenant in biblical thought does not guarantee the covenant promises to later generations who behave wickedly. This is related to the Patriarchal covenant and the inheritance of the land. How might this relate to us who are in Yeshua the Messiah? In the mind of the rabbis, there is a connection between the covenant of the Patriarchs and that of Israel, and specifically here in the Psalm to the Sons of Korach. The idea is rooted in the violation of the covenant, when the people violate the covenant they will be sent out of the Land; they will then remember the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Land. In action of remembering the covenant they turn from their wicked ways. This reasoning may suggest that the mountains that perish in the sea, their fathers who passed away from the land, as in the case of Korach, Datan, and Aviram, their passing does not effect their children who remain faithful to our Father in Heaven. This comes back to the Torah principle that the sons shall not be punished for the sins of their fathers and visa-versa. According to The Apostle Paul in Romans 4:13-5:1, the promises of God are made firm (εἶναι βεβαίαν τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν) by faith (πίστεως) not only to those who are of the Torah but to all of those who are of the faith of Abraham (Romans 4:16) are become the true children of Abraham; having faith in God, in the Rock (הַצּוּר) of our Salvation, our strength and refuge (Tehillim / Psalms 46:1-2) and in the Lord God the sure foundation and in the Name of Yeshua the Messiah our Savior. The relationship of Yeshua to the Father is as a foundation stone, cut out of the mountain of the Lord (Daniel 2:45). The emphasis placed on the Lord God our Father and His purchasing us (אָבִיךָ קָּנֶךָ הוּא) and established us (עָשְֹךָ וַיְכֹנֲנֶךָ) according to Parashat Ha’azinu, the Torah is directing us to Yeshua the Messiah, the ultimate and final goal of the revelation of scripture. The love of the Father through the Son (Yeshua) offering redemption in His blood and salvation in His name so that we might have the opportunity to know and experience the abiding presence of the Father in our lives and in our communities. We can say as David did in Tehillim / Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. (NASB)

David says that the Lord is able to help us no matter what the circumstance as in the case of the waters roaring and foaming and the mountains quaking (ד יֶהֱמוּ יֶחְמְרוּ מֵימָיו יִרְעֲשׁוּ הָרִים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ סֶלָה:). David writes “though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,” is paralleled to men’s hearts, the roaring waters are those that cause men’s hearts to fail because of fear, similar to what Yeshua wrote of the last days in Luke 21:25. This verse also states “the mountains shake or quake;” expressing figurative confusion and disorder that appears to be a part of life in this world. The children of God have no reason to fear because the Lord hears the prayer of the righteous. Ibn Ezra, a Jewish commentator (M. Friedlander PH. D., The Commentary of Ibn Ezra on Isaiah, Publisher: Society of Hebrew Literature, 1873, pg 32-33) thought that the roaring waves and trembling mountains may be applied to the wars of Jerusalem, or of some other persecution, time of calamity, etc. The passage may be applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, and wars preceding it, and the dispersion of the children of Israel resulting from its destruction. Based upon this kind of interpretation, though we see the slaying of the prophets, the witnesses of God, in the hour of temptation, we can find our refuge and strength in the Lord in the midst of times of trouble, we do not have to fear even in the face of death.

David continues in Tehillim / Psalms 46 saying, ה נָהָר פְּלָגָיו יְשַֹמְּחוּ עִיר-אֱלֹהִים קְדשׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן: ו אֱלֹהִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ בַּל-תִּמּוֹט יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹהִים לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר: 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. 46:5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. (NASB) What is that river that makes the city of God glad? The reference is either to the river Kidron, which ran by Jerusalem, or to the waters of Shiloah. “The waters of Shiloah” are mentioned in the Tanach in Isaiah 8:6 and “the pool of Siloah” in Nehemiah 3:15. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, “Josephus writes the word Σιλωά (Siloa), Σιλωᾶς (Siloas), and Σιλωάμ (Siloam). The pool was surrounded by the royal gardens on the south, and part of it belonged to the fortress of Jerusalem, while the spring which fed it was at the entrance to the Tyropœon valley dividing the upper from the lower city. Probably as early as the reign of Solomon, water was brought from this spring to a tank in the valley of Kidron, in order to irrigate the royal gardens south of the city, although the site of this reservoir, which Josephus calls “Solomon’s pool” (“B. J.” v. 4, § 2), is no longer known.”

“Waters of Shiloah” – The Jewish Encyclopedia

According to the Talmud, the spring of the pool is exactly in the center of the Holy Land (Zabim i. 5); and owing to its peculiar ebb and flow it has always been popularly regarded as an arm of the sea. After the service in the Temple on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Solomon and the people descended to the pool, from which water was drawn and poured upon the altar (Suk. v. 1). When, moreover, the priests were obliged to eat large quantities of sacred meat, they drank of the water of Shiloah to aid digestion (Ab. R. N. xxxv.). King Hezekiah had the opening, which was not larger than a coin, enlarged, that the water might flow more freely; but the work had scarcely been done when the stream grew less in volume. He therefore had the orifice made smaller, whereupon the original quantity again appeared (Yalḳuṭ Shim’oni, ii. 285, ed. Wilna, 1898). Before Shiloah was connected with the pool it may have been called “Gihon”; for the Targum of Jonathan renders the “Gihon” of I Kings i. 33, 38, by “Shiloah”; the two places were furthermore identified by Theodoret (“Quæstiones,” ii.), as they are also by Burckhardt (“Travels in Syria and the Holy Land,” v. 461) and by Isaac Ḥelo (Tobler, “Jerusalem,” ii. 62). See Siloam Inscription.

So, the river David is referring to ran through the city of Jerusalem, and supplied several parts of it with water, to the joy and comfort of its inhabitants. Figuratively speaking, these streams are later referred to as the streams of which comes forth living waters that went out from Jerusalem. In the case of Yeshua, he said “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” making a reference to the living waters in John 7.

According to the Psalmist, this river makes the city of God glad, and specifically the holy dwelling places of the Most High God. David speaking of the river that gives gladness and joy, life to the city paralleled to the city of God, the dwelling places of the Most High God, could he be thinking of a Messianic hope that the Lord will deliver His people, and we can take refuge in Him? The presupposition of scholars who approach interpreting the text of the Hebrew bible, with regard to the Messiah, have a considerable impact, for instance, the person who comes believing that Yeshua is the Messiah will immediately see every verse in the scriptures support their presupposition that Yeshua is the Messiah. On the other hand, those who reject Yeshua as God’s Messiah are able to find scriptures to back up their claims as well. The attitude to the subject of the Messianic expectation in the Tanach reflects strongly on the personal opinion that has been established in the mind of the expositor. Every biblical scholar will bring to their studies a certain theology that influences their perspective based upon what we have learned in the past. When trying to understand the meaning of the Scriptures, what the author is trying to say, we need to look at the historical and cultural background that is Torah centric in order to step outside of man’s traditions and our own presuppositions (e.g. Greco Roman Philosophy). What David says here in Tehillim / Psalms 46:5 is a very important Torah principle, “God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.” The key verses in the Torah that explain to us what he is saying and what the Lord God Almighty is seeking to do in our lives is found in Parashat Bechukotai (Vayikra / Leviticus 26:9-13) where the Lord says וַהֲקִימֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אִתְּכֶם “I will establish/raise up my covenant with you.” Following this statement the Lord says that He will make his dwelling among His people and walk among them saying וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵֽאלֹהִים וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ־לִי לְעָֽם “and I will be their God and they will be my people.” These from Vayikra / Leviticus 26:11-12 are very significant for understanding all of the Torah, and God’s plan of redemption, in and through His Messiah. How will God establish His covenant in such a way that will cause him to walk and dwell in our midst in such a way that only God could do exactly like David is saying here in the Psalm?

Vayikra / Leviticus 26:9-13

26:9 ‘So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. 26:10 ‘You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. 26:11 ‘Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. 26:12 ‘I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 26:13 ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. (NASB)

פרשת בחקותי ספר ויקרא פרק כו פסוק ט-יג

ט וּפָנִיתִי אֲלֵיכֶם וְהִפְרֵיתִי אֶתְכֶם וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶתְכֶם וַהֲקִימֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אִתְּכֶם: [שלישי] [חמישי כשהן מחוברין] י וַאֲכַלְתֶּם יָשָׁן נוֹשָׁן וְיָשָׁן מִפְּנֵי חָדָשׁ תּוֹצִיאוּ: יא וְנָתַתִּי מִשְׁכָּנִי בְּתוֹכֲכֶם וְלֹא-תִגְעַל נַפְשִׁי אֶתְכֶם: יב וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי בְּתוֹכֲכֶם וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי לְעָם: יג אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִהְיֹת לָהֶם עֲבָדִים וָאֶשְׁבֹּר מֹטֹת עֻלְּכֶם וָאוֹלֵךְ אֶתְכֶם קוֹמְמִיּוּת:

In the Scriptures we find a theme that God is drawing mankind (both Jew and Gentile) to Himself by His mercy and grace. From the very beginning we learned in the Scriptures that God walked in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day following His creation, Bereshit / Genesis 3:8 states, ח וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶת-קוֹל יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים מִתְהַלֵּךְ בַּגָּן לְרוּחַ הַיּוֹם וַיִּתְחַבֵּא הָאָדָם וְאִשְׁתּוֹ מִפְּנֵי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהִים בְּתוֹךְ עֵץ הַגָּן: 3:8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (NASB) The Lord reveals Himself to us using human characteristics or attributes (using anthropomorphisms) by describing how Adam and Chavah (Eve) heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden. The Masoretic text provides in straight forward terms a description of how God’s Anointed one will come as a man and inflict a wound upon the enemy of God in Bereshit / Genesis 3:15, טו וְאֵיבָה | אָשִׁית בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין הָאִשָּׁה וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ וּבֵין זַרְעָהּ הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב: 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.’ (NASB) The word זרע (zara) is used in the Torah to refer to “seed,” “offspring,” or “descendent’s.” The word זרע (zara) is used as a noun to refer to offspring in the promised line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Bereshit / Genesis 12:7, ז וַיֵּרָא יְהוָֹה אֶל-אַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וַיִּבֶן שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהוָֹה הַנִּרְאֶה אֵלָיו:). The word זרע is used to indicate “offspring” in the singular form. The reference to the promised offspring is not written in the plural form in the Tanach. In addition to this, the majority of the times the singular form of “offspring” is written it is followed by a singular verb (see Bereshit / Genesis 3:15, 13:16, 16:10, 48:19, Bamidbar / Numbers 14:24, Isaiah 53:6, 61:9, Tehillim / Psalms 22:13, 25:13, 37:28, 89:37, 112:2, Mishley / Proverbs 11:21). The point is within the statement in Tehillim / Psalms 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. 46:5 God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. (NASB) we find a direct link to the covenant promises of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the hope that we have in God as our refuge, our dwelling place, and how the Lord will help His people in their times of trouble.

When we speak of the Lord dwelling in our midst, in Yeshua the Messiah, the Lord sends His Holy Spirit to dwell within our bodies, to take up residence in our bodies as His temple. We find this occurring at the festival of Shavuot (Acts 1-2) and the Apostle Paul speaks at length on this in his letters in the Apostolic Writings. So we find a fulfillment of the Torah principle of the Lord dwelling in our midst in the Apostolic Writings. The question is though, whether the presence of God via the Holy Spirit would dwell in a wicked vessel? What about the times when the people behaved wickedly? In Yeshua the Messiah, how does behaving wickedly effect what He has done in our lives? In Parashat Kedoshim we read the command not to curse the deaf or place a stumbling block before the blind man and the text says “you shall fear the Lord your God” (Vayikra / Leviticus 19:14). The Scriptures say that God does not wink at evil or injustice, and those who practice wickedness have a genuine reason to be afraid (Matthew 5:29-30, 18:8-9, Galatians 6:7-8). The Apostolic Writings say that God is our Judge and every deed that we have done will be made known as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:13:

1 Corinthians 3:9-18

3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 3:11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 3:12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 3:13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 3:14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 3:15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 3:17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. (NASB)

Paul also says “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Yeshua said in John 3:20 ‘For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 3:21 ‘But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.’ (NASB) Both Jewish and Christian traditions have tended to regard the fear of God as God’s retribution for our sins and that our lives should be governed by the rewards and punishments that await us in the Olam Haba (the World to come). If we live practicing wickedness, the Lord will not dwell in our midst. The Scriptures teach us that we will be held accountable for the things done in our lives and that we should with fear and trembling seek the Lord because of the sin that is withing our hearts. Our actions matter and there will be a final day of reckoning for all of us. The book “Chofetz Chaim” (Desirer of Life) is from the writings on Jewish ethics and laws of speech written by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, who later became know simply as the “Chofetz Chaim.” The Chofetz Chaim wrote that “even though the fear of God’s punishment may deter us from sin in the short run, by itself it is insufficient for spiritual life since it is based upon an incomplete idea about God.” The concept is if we avoid sin only because of the fear of God’s punishment, you are only cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside is full of corruption. Outwardly, obedience (Torah observance) may appear righteous, but inwardly there may still be a state of rebellion and sin as the Scriptures say “the heart of man is deceitful above all things.” (Jeremiah 17:9) This is the reason why we seek the Lord in purity of heart, in truth, and in innocence. Without the transforming power of God by the Holy Spirit, if we are not transformed and made new from the inside out, all that is left is the fear of hell itself. Within this Psalm, specifically out of verses 46:4-5, we find the covenant connection of God dwelling in our midst, and the necessity of faith in Yeshua the Messiah, the new man, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

David continues saying, ז הָמוּ גוֹיִם מָטוּ מַמְלָכוֹת נָתַן בְּקוֹלוֹ תָּמוּג אָרֶץ: 46:6 The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. (NASB) What does it mean that the Lord raised His voice and the earth melted? A literal translation of the Hebrew text states הָמוּ גוֹיִם מָטוּ “the nations slipped, wavered, fell, was cast downמַמְלָכוֹת נָתַן “from the kingdoms and were given,” בְּקוֹלוֹ תָּמוּג אָרֶץ “at His voice the earth melted.” Based upon the context of the Psalm, the psalmist is saying “come and see the effects of God’s desolating judgments against the nations.” The Septuagint states, ἐταράχθησαν ἔθνη ἔκλιναν βασιλεῖαι ἔδωκεν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ ἐσαλεύθη ἡ γῆ 46:6 The nations were troubled, the kingdoms tottered: he uttered his voice, the earth shook. (LXX) The Aramaic Targum states, ז במיתן אוריתא לעמיה איתרגשו עמיא עממיא אזדעזעו מלכותא כד ארים קליה וכד יהב אוריתא לעמיה איתמוגגו יתבי ארעא׃ 46:7 When the Torah was given to his people, the Gentiles trembled; kingdoms shook when he raised his voice; and when he gave the Torah to his people, the inhabitants of the earth melted. (EMC) The rabbis wrote it was the giving of the Torah that caused the Gentiles to tremble and the kingdoms to shake. Why does the giving of the Torah to Israel have this effect? In Isaiah 66, the prophet Isaiah uses a metaphor saying, א כֹּה אָמַר יְהֹוָה הַשָּׁמַיִם כִּסְאִי וְהָאָרֶץ הֲדֹם רַגְלָי אֵי-זֶה בַיִת אֲשֶׁר תִּבְנוּ-לִי וְאֵי-זֶה מָקוֹם מְנוּחָתִי: ב וְאֶת-כָּל-אֵלֶּה יָדִי עָשָֹתָה וַיִּהְיוּ כָל-אֵלֶּה נְאֻם-יְהֹוָה וְאֶל-זֶה אַבִּיט אֶל-עָנִי וּנְכֵה-רוּחַ וְחָרֵד עַל-דְּבָרִי: 66:1 Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 66:2 ‘For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,’ declares the Lord. ‘But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. (NASB) Isaiah states that the Lord will look to him who is “humble and contrite of spirit” and “who trembles at My word.” Here we find that the godly man who is humble is the one who is trembling at the Word of the Lord. The word used here for tremble (חָרֵד) is also used in 1 Samuel 4:13 when Eli was concerned over the Ark of God as it was sent to the battle field. Eli is anxious to know if the Ark of God remains safely in the hands of Israel or whether it is captured by the Philistines and his heart trembles when he hears the bad news of the death of his sons and the Ark being captured. The use of the word “chared” (ְחָרֵד) “trembled” by Eli gives us a sense of what happens in the heart of the godly man who trembles at the word of the Lord in Isaiah 66:2. When Isaiah writes about the one who is humble and contrite in spirit, he is speaking of the person who is fully devoted and concerned with God’s word. Trembling at God’s word here in Isaiah means one is receiving the word as the gracious power of God that comes with authority for one’s life. On the other hand, here in Tehillim / Psalms 46:6, David is saying that the nations tremble and melt away at the sound of his voice. The trembling, being cast down, and melting at the word of the Lord is different from the meaning given by Isaiah for the one who trembles at His word because the righteous who tremble at the word of the Lord are not destroyed, they live because the one who trembles is the one who is obedient to His commands. On the other hand, the nations are not obedient to the word of God and they are destroyed. This is why the rabbis state that the giving of the Torah to his people caused the Gentiles to tremble, the kingdoms to shake, and the “inhabitants” of the earth to melt. The people perish because of disobedience. From the beginning of creation, the enemy has sought to cause men to cease from trembling at God’s word in the sense of trembling for the purpose of obeying His commands. The deceiver in the Garden of Eden told Chavah that she does not really understand the meaning of God’s word saying “Indeed, has God said?” (Bereshit / Genesis 3:1). There is a battle for God’s word, the evil one wants to marginalize and rationalize the commandments in such a way so as to make the Torah irrelevant. The idea today is by defying God’s word one is set free from His tyrannical rule which is a form of bondage (e.g. the teaching that the Law is bondage and therefore we must interpret the Law as having passed away in Jesus Christ).

The psalmist continues saying, ח יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְֹגָּב-לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה: ט לְכוּ-חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר-שָֹם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ: י מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת עַד-קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ קֶשֶׁת יְשַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּץ חֲנִית עֲגָלוֹת יִשְֹרֹף בָּאֵשׁ: יא הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ כִּי-אָנֹכִי אֱלֹהִים אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ: 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. 46:8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. 46:9 He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. 46:10 ‘Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ (NASB) The Aramaic Targum states, ח מימרא דיהוה צבאות בסעדנא תקוף לנא אלהא דיעקב לעלמין׃ ט אזילו חמון עובדיא דיהוה דשוי צדיין ברישיעי ארעא׃ י מבטל קרבא עד סייפי ארעא קשתא יתבר ויתרערע ויתרע מורניתא תריסיא עגילין יוקיד בנורא׃ יא פסקו מן סדרי קרבא וידעון ארום אנא יהוה רמא בעמיא רמא על יתבי ארעא׃ 46:8 The word of the Lord Sabaoth is our help; the God of Jacob is a stronghold for us forever. 46:9 Come, see the deeds of the Lord who has put devastation on the wicked of the land. 46:10 He annuls war to the ends of the earth; he will break the bow and shatter the lance; the round shields he will burn with fire. 46:11 Cease from war, and know that I am the Lord, exalted among the peoples, exalted over the inhabitants of the earth. (EMC) The Septuagint states, 46:7 κύριος τῶν δυνάμεων μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἀντιλήμπτωρ ἡμῶν ὁ θεὸς Ιακωβ διάψαλμα 46:8 δεῦτε ἴδετε τὰ ἔργα κυρίου ἃ ἔθετο τέρατα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς 46:9 ἀνταναιρῶν πολέμους μέχρι τῶν περάτων τῆς γῆς τόξον συντρίψει καὶ συγκλάσει ὅπλον καὶ θυρεοὺς κατακαύσει ἐν πυρί 46:10 σχολάσατε καὶ γνῶτε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεός ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑψωθήσομαι ἐν τῇ γῇ 46:7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our helper. Pause. 46:8 Come, and behold the works of the Lord, what wonders he has achieved on the earth. 46:9 Putting an end to wars as for the ends of the earth; he will crush the bow, and break in pieces the weapon, and burn the bucklers with fire. 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (LXX) The Lord is our strength, He saves us from our enemies, He causes wars to cease breaking the weapons of war, and the psalmist calls the people to cease their striving, the Lord will be exalted among the nations. Note within the context of the nations trembling and melting at the voice of God, and obedience to the word of God, the Lord will put an end to our struggles if we place out trust in Him. The Psalm concludes saying, יב יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְֹגָּב-לָֹנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה:46:11 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. (NASB) The Aramaic Targum, יב מימרא דיהוה צבאות בסעדנא תקוף לנא אלהא דיעקב לעלמין׃ 46:12 The word of the Lord Sabaoth is our help; the God of Jacob is a stronghold for us forever. (EMC) The Septuagint states, κύριος τῶν δυνάμεων μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ἀντιλήμπτωρ ἡμῶν ὁ θεὸς Ιακωβ 46:11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our helper. (LXX) This Psalm is directing our attention to the Lord God Almighty, our Father in Heaven for our help and our salvation. The Lord has accomplished this according to His word, in Yeshua the Messiah. He makes our hearts to be at peace, He shows great wonders in our lives by healing the broken hearted, and our physical bodies. Under what Condition is God our Refuge and Strength? Under the condition that we humble ourselves and seek His face because we are purely at the mercy of our Father in heaven. Praise the Lord for His mercy and for His Son Yeshua the Messiah!

Rabbinic Commentary

The Rabbinic Commentary (Midrash) on Tehillim / Psalms 46 has 3 parts. Reading through the Midrash we will be looking at Part 1, 2, and 3. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Chapter 46, Part 1, 2, and 3.

Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 46, Part 1, 2, and 3

Part 1

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “For the leader, of the sons of Korach, upon Alamoth. A Song (Tehillim /Psalms 46:1).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says The word Alamoth (hidden things) is to be considered in the light of the verse Who does great things past finding out, yea, marvelous things that cannot be told (Job 9:10).
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to discuss the Psalm of David for the Sons of Korach on the things the Lord has done for the one He loves.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis speak of trusting in wealth, in the righteous, bringing a ransom to redeem a person, the last chance a person may bring a ransom to the Lord, and the sons of Korach who were wicked.
  • The Concluding phrase says “As God says, I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor (Tehillim / Psalms 91:15).”

Part 2

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas (Tehillim / Psalms 46:3).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says The sons of Korach said, Fear not on the day when the Holy One blessed be He, will shake the wicked out of the earth.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to expand upon David’s words regarding the fear of the Lord.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis speak of how the Lord will shake the wicked out of the earth by taking hold of the ends of the earth.
  • The Concluding phrase says “They will cleave to the throne of glory which is under the wings of the Presence, as is said but you that cleaved to the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:4).”

Part 3

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying “The waters roar and foam (Tehillim / Psalms 46:4).”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) “the homiletic introduction” to the Midrash says that is, on the day of judgment the waters of the great deep will roar, and the wicked in God’s wrath will be whirled about as is meat in a pot. The river of the city of God, its streams make glad (Tehillim / Psalms 46:5).
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis go on to expand upon David’s words and speak of the roaring waters as a reference to the waters of life that proceed from Jerusalem.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis speak of the Lord keeping Jerusalem, the city of God, stable, of the nations raging and the kingdoms moving, and the earth melting.
  • The Concluding phrase says “Hence, it is said, therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed (Tehillim / Psalms 46:3), and also it is said, For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness will not depart from you, neither will the covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:10).”

Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 1 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “For the leader, of the sons of Korach, upon Alamoth. A Song (Tehillim /Psalms 46:1).” The homiletic introduction to the Midrash states “The word Alamoth (hidden things) is to be considered in the light of the verse Who does great things past finding out, yea, marvelous things that cannot be told (Job 9:10).” The rabbis say that “Alamoth” means “hidden things.” The midrash goes on to say:

No man can tell the great things and marvelous works of the Holy One blessed be He. And so, in To Him who alone does great wonders (Tehillim / Psalms 136:4), what can alone imply except that God alone knows what He does for you? Even so the sons of Korach said Upon Alamoth. A song, The things we saw are hidden, and we did not understand what we saw. (Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 1)

The midrash says that no man can tell the great and marvelous works of God. They are essentially saying that no man knows what reason or why God works the way he does. Why do you think they say no man knows what God is doing for us? It may be related to the details, the reasons behind why things happen the way they do. We mentioned earlier that according to Brown Driver and Briggs Lexicon, the word “alamoth” is the plural of עַלְמָה which means “virgin, young woman, of marriageable age, maid or newly married.” Searching the Hebrew lexicons, the basic consensus is that the word “alamoth” is defined as “a term in psalm heading.” The use of the Hebrew term עֲלָמוֹת (alamoth, which means “young women” plural) in the heading of the Psalm is uncertain and perhaps it refers to a particular style of music? The Aramaic Targum states א לשבחא על ידיהון דבני קרח ברוח נבואה בזמן דאתכסי אבוהון מנהון והינון ואינון אשתזבו ואמרו שירתא׃ 46:1 For praise, by the sons of Korah, through the spirit of prophecy when their father was hidden from them, but they were saved, and they recited this song. (EMC) The Septuagint states 46:1 εἰς τὸ τέλος ὑπὲρ τῶν υἱῶν Κορε ὑπὲρ τῶν κρυφίων ψαλμός… For the end, for the sons of Core; a Psalm concerning secret things. (LXX) The rabbis who translated this Psalm into Greek say ὑπὲρ τῶν κρυφίων ψαλμός “a Psalm concerning secret things?” Here in the midrash it appears that the rabbis are reading the Septuagint rather than the Aramaic Targum since they say “Even so the sons of Korach said Upon Alamoth. A song, The things we saw are hidden, and we did not understand what we saw.” The hidden or secret thing may be the reasons why the Lord chooses to do what He does in our lives. The purpose may be so that we live by faith and seek His face and help on a daily basis. We also do not know everything the Lord is doing in the background to help us or to draw a wayward son back to Himself, to truth, life, and righteous living, etc.

The midrash continues saying:

In another comment, the phrase Upon Alamoth is read upon worlds, and is taken to mean that the sons of Korach said, We have seen two worlds, the world of the righteous and the world of the wicked. For their eyes had seen the punishment of those who trusted in their wealth and in their riches, of whom it is said They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches (Tehillim / Psalms 49:7). In the hour of punishment what can such men do? Their riches will not sustain them, as Scripture says, Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them (Zephaniah 1:18). Nor will it help a man to say, My father was worthy, behold, I will be delivered because of him. My brother was righteous, He will be the cause of my rescue. Even Abraham could not deliver Ishmael, and Jacob could not deliver Esau, for Scripture says, Oh, no man can by any means redeem (Tehillim / Psalms 49:8).

The rabbinic commentary states that the Hebrew word עֲלָמוֹת is read to mean “worlds” (מעולמין) and is used as a reference to the sons of Korach seeing “two worlds” (שני עולמות), (i) the world of the righteous, and (ii) the world of the wicked. Are there really two worlds, one for the righteous and one for the wicked? If so, how is that possible? Tehillim / Psalms 1 tells us that there are two ways of life open to us, one is the way of God, the other is the way of the world in its attitudes, actions, and sin (e.g. walk not in the way of the wicked according to Tehillim / Psalms 1). The wicked are not in like the righteous. Yeshua may have been speaking about two worlds in Matthew 7:13-24 saying the following:

Matthew 7:13-24

7:13 ‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 7:14 ‘For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 7:15 ‘Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 7:16 ‘You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 7:17 ‘So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 7:18 ‘A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 7:19 ‘Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 7:20 ‘So then, you will know them by their fruits. 7:21 ‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter 7:22 ‘Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 7:23 ‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ 7:24 ‘Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. (NASB)

Yeshua spoke of the “narrow gate” that leads to salvation, and the “wide gate” that leads to destruction. Is this a similar analogy to two worlds like the rabbis are making in Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 1? Yeshua also said to enter into the narrow gate which leads to life. He is obviously speaking of two roads, to ways of life, to worlds, one that is in righteousness and the other in wickedness. He then parallels the narrow and broad gates to good and bad fruit. The good fruit are from those who are righteous, and the bad from those who are wicked. Yeshua is speaking to his Jewish listeners about these things which was likely a Torah based hermeneutic in his day, e.g. a narrow way of life in relation to a minimalist lifestyle. John the Baptist as an example, Matthew says in Matthew 3:4 Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. (NASB) John was employing a way of narrowing down his lifestyle in order to draw nearer to the Lord. This idea might be paralleled to fasting, one fasts in order to draw away the power of the flesh, to make the flesh weak so the Spirit can have more of an influence. Are there any other parallels that we can make regarding the two-worlds or two-paths?

The midrash continues making a comparison to people who trust in their wealth, and that others trust in the righteousness of another and disregard their own lives and lifestyle of unrighteousness. The rabbis say that “Even Abraham could not deliver Ishmael, and Jacob could not deliver Esau, for Scripture says, Oh, no man can by any means redeem” and reference Tehillim / Psalms 49:8 the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough. (NIV) The point is that we are called to go through the narrow gate on an individual basis. Righteousness and Salvation are also on an individual basis. God may bring deliverance and salvation in this life on a corporate scale, as He did in delivering Israel from Egypt and bondage, but on the individual basis one enters into eternal life by God circumcising the heart.

The midrash continues saying:

Oh, no man can by any means redeem (Tehillim / Psalms 49:8). And how is the word “Oh” to be interpreted? On the day that he sees his son or his brother punished in Gehenna, the righteous man explains, Alas (Oh)! How difficult is this day. For he cannot deliver him. Hence, Alas, no man can by any means redeem. For too costly is the redemption of their soul (Tehillim / Psalms 49:9). The righteous ask the Holy One blessed be He, why is it so costly? And the Holy One blessed be He, replies, Have I not said, Take your God while He is to be had cheaply? I am He who said Take no ransom (Shemot / Exodus 23:8), but I am also He who said, Give Me a ransom, and I will take it from you, as is said He takes a ransom from the bosom of the wicked (Mishley / Proverbs 17:23). (Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 1)

The midrash speaks of the distress of a father who sees his son or brother punished in Hell (Gehenna). He is unable to deliver him and he is not able to redeem him. The midrash says that “the soul is too costly for redemption” quoting from Tehillim / Psalms 49:9. The rabbis speak of the ransom for redemption and quote from Shemot / Exodus 23:8 regarding the bribe (שֹׁחַד) that perverts justice (ח וְשֹׁחַד לֹא תִקָּח כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר פִּקְחִים וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִים:, Shemot / Exodus 23:8 ‘You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just. NASB) They then say that the Lord is the one who takes a ransom (שֹׁחַד) according to Mishley / Proverbs 17:23. Note that the same word here is used in Proverbs as compared to the Hebrew text in Shemot / Exodus 23:8. Is the midrash suggesting that God accepts a bribe in the form of a ransom from the wicked? The redeemer according to Jeremiah 1:34, is strong, the Lord of Hosts is our redeemer, and it says that He will plead our cause.

It is interesting to study the provision that is made in the Torah regarding the next of kin. The nearest blood relative, according to the Torah, and certain obligations in taking care of his family which includes his relatives. A special name is given to him, “the Redeemer” and this may also be the person who is the “Avenger” of blood. A man is qualified as the Goel (Redeemer) is to be the nearest blood relative. His duties were (i) if a brother was poor and needed to sell his possessions, the kinsman may redeem the thing in which his brother sold (e.g. most likely property, Vayikra / Leviticus 25:25). (ii) He was to purchase back a member of his family if they had fallen into slavery. The cost of the buyback was dependent upon the time until the Jubilee year when slaves are released and property returned to its original clan or owner. (iii) The Goel was the “Avenger of blood” of a murdered relative (note the Scripture “vengeance is of the Lord,” Romans 12:19) . If a family member or relative was murdered, it was the Goel’s responsibility to find out exactly what happened and to obtain compensation. The following can be summarized from the Apostolic Writings regarding the Messiah:

  1. Yeshua said He came “to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). The word translated “ransom” in Matthew 20:28 “is commonly used to describe the price paid for a slave who is then set free by the one who bought him, the purchase money for release of slaves.
  2. Yeshua gave his own life as the price of freedom for the slaves of sin. His death would provide a “ransom” (lytron, “payment”) “for many.”
  3. His death truly atones for sin (John 1:29, Romans 5:8, and 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18).
  4. Yeshua was the perfect Sacrifice, whose substitutionary death paid the price for sin (Isaiah 53:5-6 and 2 Corinthians 5:21).
  5. “Ransom” (lytron) occurs only in Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 as “the price of release” referring to a payment to effect the release of slaves or captives from bondage. It also includes the concept of substitution.

In the Goel (Redeemer) we see the free will of the Goel to make the redemption of his relative. In other-words, the Goel had a choice to redeem his family. In Yeshua the Messiah, we see His free will to lay His life down on our behalf. The midrash states that God receives a ransom from the bosom of the wicked. Is the redemption that Yeshua provides a ransom for the wicked that God receives? Are the rabbis describing the ransom in the midrash in this way?

The midrash continues saying the following:

Hence, it is said For too costly is the redemption of their soul, and must be let alone for ever. The last words mean that the chance of redemption ceases when they die, ceases not for a day, nor for a year, but ceases forever. Even if a man should live forever will he not see the pit? (Tehillim / Psalms 49:10). What was the place where the sons of Korach went? It was the nether-world. Thus they came to know that the wicked, like sheep are appointed for the nether-world and that death is their shepherd, and that the upright go down among them in the morning (Tehillim / Psalms 49:15). What is meant by the phrase, in the morning (Boker)? That in the morning the righteous go down to visit (bakker) the wicked. The sons of Korach were asked, What do the righteous do there? And they answered, The righteous sing the son God is our refuge and help (Tehillim / Psalms 46:2), as if to say, God is a very present help to us in every trouble that comes upon us. For if a mortal king be petitioned, Help me in my trouble, he will not know what to do until the man comes near him. Not so the Holy One blessed be He. He is a very present help in trouble, for He is near to us at every trouble that comes upon us. As God says, I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and bring him to honor (Tehillim / Psalms 91:15). (Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 1)

According to the midrash, the last chance for redemption to take place is when a man is alive. The chance of redemption ceases when one dies, redemption ceases forever. This sounds very similar to what the author of the book of Hebrews writes:

Hebrews 9:24-10:6

9:24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 9:25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 9:28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. 10:1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 10:2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 10:3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 10:4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 10:5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, But a body You have prepared for Me; 10:6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. (NASB)

Notice how the author of Hebrews is speaking of Yeshua who is making a redemption offering in his own blood on our behalf in the heavenly sanctuary. Hebrews says that it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins and that Yeshua was destined to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:27 states that it is appointed for men to die once and then comes judgment. The parallel found here in the rabbinic commentary is that redemption is effective only when we are alive and willing to receive the redeemers gift of purchase. When we die there is no chance to change our minds. Note also how the author of Hebrews contrasts the impossibility of cleansing by the blood of bulls and goats, with the blood of bulls and goats being offered for sins, and yet that these things were not pleasing to God. Note the apparent back and forth literary technique that is utilized that causes some confusion for the reader (for us) of Hebrews. Scripture says that the Lord did not desire sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22) but yet when one sinned they were to bring a sacrifice. The blood of bulls and goats did not take a way sins (impossible to do so) but yet these things were commanded to be brought when one did sin. The author of Hebrews explains that this was done as a reminder of sin and to direct our attention to the need for a savior (the Salvation of God, not salvation by the hand of man). The point is that Yeshua will return without a reference to sin (9:28) and “… will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (NASB) The point of the sacrificial system was not to earn one’s way into heaven but rather to direct our attention to the Lord who is our Savior and to direct our attention to our Redeemer Yeshua the Messiah.

Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 2 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas (Tehillim / Psalms 46:3).” The homiletic introduction to the Midrash states “The sons of Korach said, Fear not on the day when the Holy One blessed be He, will shake the wicked out of the earth.” The entire midrash says the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק מו סימן ב

כ על כן לא נירא בהמיר ארץ. אמרו בני קרח אל תיראו ביום שעתיד הקב״ה לנער את הארץ, שנאמר לאחוז בכנפות הארץ וינערו רשעים ממנה (איוב לח יג), וכתיב כי הנני בורא (השמים החדשים והארץ החדשה) [שמים חדשים וארץ חדשה] (ישעיה סה יז), והיכן הצדיקים עמדו באותה שעה, יהיו דבוקים בכסא הכבוד תחת כנפי השכינה, שנאמר ואתם הדבקים בה׳ אלהיכם חיים כלכם היום (דברים ד ד).

Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 2

2. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas (Tehillim / Psalms 46:3). The sons of Korach said, Fear not on the day when the Holy One blessed be He, will shake the wicked out of the earth, as is said, To take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it (Job 38:13), and also For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17). On that day where will the righteous stand? They will cleave to the throne of glory which is under the wings of the Presence, as is said but you that cleaved to the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:4).

The Dibur Hamathil says that they will not fear though the earth be removed. This is an obvious reference to Parashat Korach and the earth opening up and swallowing the wicked men alive removing them from the face of the earth. The midrash states that the sons of Korach do not fear when the Lord (Holy One blessed be He) shakes the wicked out of the earth. They quote from Job 38 which says:

Job 38:11-15

38:11 And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’? 38:12 ‘Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, And caused the dawn to know its place, 38:13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, And the wicked be shaken out of it? 38:14 ‘It is changed like clay under the seal; And they stand forth like a garment. 38:15 ‘From the wicked their light is withheld, And the uplifted arm is broken. (NASB)

The rabbis are paralleling the wicked to clay and a garment. Isaiah 51:7-8 states the following 51:7 ‘Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, A people in whose heart is My law; Do not fear the reproach of man, Nor be dismayed at their revilings. 51:8 ‘For the moth will eat them like a garment, And the grub will eat them like wool. But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation to all generations.’ (NASB, ז שִׁמְעוּ אֵלַי יֹדְעֵי צֶדֶק עַם תּוֹרָתִי בְלִבָּם אַל-תִּירְאוּ חֶרְפַּת אֱנוֹשׁ וּמִגִּדֻּפֹתָם אַל-תֵּחָתּוּ: ח כִּי כַבֶּגֶד יֹאכְלֵם עָשׁ וְכַצֶּמֶר יֹאכְלֵם סָס וְצִדְקָתִי לְעוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה וִישׁוּעָתִי לְדוֹר דּוֹרִים:) Note a number of things here, according to Isaiah, the wicked are paralleled to a moth-eaten garment similar to the idea the rabbis are putting forward in Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 2. Isaiah speaks of the righteous who are those whose heart is in God’s Torah (תּוֹרָתִי) because the Torah defines how to live a righteous life before God. The Torah represents the active choice to pursue righteousness in our daily lives because God has made us holy in the Messiah Yeshua. Isaiah says the moth and the grub will eat the wicked like a garment, the imagery is compared to those who are rotting in the ground and the garment that is laying on the ground will be eaten, and the one that is closed up in a closet will also be eaten. We don’t hide who we are in the Messiah. To hide who we are may be paralleled to the one who is dead and eaten by worms or the grub like Isaiah is saying in Isaiah 51:8. Isaiah also says וְצִדְקָתִי לְעוֹלָם תִּהְיֶה וִישׁוּעָתִי לְדוֹר דּוֹרִים “But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation to all generations” which suggests that God’s Torah will not pass away because contained within the Torah is the righteousness of God (see also Isaiah 40:8).

The midrash asks the question of where the righteous will stand when the Lord shakes out the earth and creates a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17)? The Concluding phrase says “They will cleave to the throne of glory which is under the wings of the Presence, as is said but you that cleaved to the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day (Devarim / Deuteronomy 4:4).” The existence of a throne supposes the existence of a kingdom. The Scriptures speak of a heavenly throne and correspondingly speak of a heavenly kingdom. In the Apostolic Writings, we also find two thrones that are mentioned, (i) the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and (ii) the throne of glory (Matthew 25:31).

Hebrews 4:16

4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NASB)

Matthew 25:31

25:31 But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. (NASB)

If we consider these texts from the Apostolic Writings, one verse represents a present day reality, while the other a future expectation. The kingdom of Grace is God’s plan to save men by His mercy. This is the grace and mercy that the Lord offered to man beginning with Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moshe, and on to the followers of Yeshua the Messiah. The kingdom of glory is a connection to the second coming of the Messiah in power and great glory, it is a future expectation of the Lord’s return, the resurrection of the dead, and of the righteous who will be able to stand in the day of Judgment (Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 1). Note how these concepts are brought out in the Apostolic Writings (NT) which are found here in the rabbinic midrash on Tehillim / Psalms 46. The midrash presents an interpretation of the righteous who do not fear, of the wicked who should fear, and the Lord shaking out the wicked from the earth and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. There is a future expectation of the restoration of the earth to its original condition without sin and without sinful men. The righteous will cleave to the throne of glory, which is representative of the righteous who love the Lord, who love His Word, and who obey God’s Torah (the commandments, 1 John 5:13 and John 5:24, also see 1 John 5:3 and 2:3). The Apostle John has to say regarding the commands and this topic.

1 John 2:3-6

2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 2:4 The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (NASB)

1 John 5:1-21

5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith. 5:5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 5:6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 5:7 For there are three that testify: 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. 5:10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. 5:11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 5:12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 5:14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 5:15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death. 5:18 We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 5:19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 5:21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (NASB)

The Apostle John states that “you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). This “assurance” of our salvation has to be understood in light of John’s other teachings in the same book which says “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3) that “We know that any one born of God does not sin” (1 John 5:18), and that “He who loves god should love his brother also” (1 John 4:21), that “whoever loves the Father loves the children born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God when we love God and observe His commandments” (1 John 5:1-2), etc. John says in 1 John2:3-4 that 2:3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 2:4 The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (NASB) This is not a reference to only select parts of the Torah but all of the Torah when John says in 1 John 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (NASB) The love of the individual person (child of God) is great enough to desire to walk in God’s ways and to do so according to His word. (Additional study: “what did the Apostles and the early church fathers believe were the most important aspects of the Torah that are binding on all believers and why are these emphasized more than other commands?” i.e. greater verses lesser commandments? Kol V’Chomer concept?)

Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 3 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying “The waters roar and foam (Tehillim / Psalms 46:4).” The homiletic introduction to the Midrash says “that is, on the day of judgment the waters of the great deep will roar, and the wicked in God’s wrath will be whirled about as is meat in a pot. The river of the city of God, its streams make glad (Tehillim / Psalms 46:5).” The midrash continues saying:

The river of the city of God, its streams make glad (Tehillim / Psalms 46:5), for it is said Waters of life go forth from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8). God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved (Tehillim / Psalms 46:6). From these words we learn that the whole world will be shaken and changed, but Jerusalem will stand fast. God will help her, when the morning appears (Tehillim / Psalms 46:6) that is, when Israel’s twilight will be made as the dawn. The verse the nations raged, the kingdoms were moved, He uttered His voice, the earth melted (Tehillim / Psalms 46:7) describes the judgment of the wicked. The Lord of hosts is with us (Tehillim / Psalms 46:8). The sons of Korach said to the righteous, Fear not. We saw all the miracles which He worked for us, as is said And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households (Bamidbar / Numbers 16:32). And where were we in that hour? Aloft in space, as is written, the sons of Korach did not die (Bamidbar / Numbers 26:11). According to rabbi Nehemiah, at the time the earth opened and the two hundred and fifty men were swallowed up, the Holy One blessed be He, made it possible for the sons of Korach to stand like a mast, they stood as a sign, for it is said What time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men, they became a sign (Bamidbar / Numbers26:10). Thus, the sons of Korach said, You righteous, fear not the terror of the day of judgment, for you will not be taken with the wicked, even as we were not taken with them. (Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 3)

The midrash opens with the destruction of the wicked that is paralleled to meat whirling about in a pot. The emphasis is placed upon the city of God where rivers flow that make glad the weary and the city will not be moved because the Lord is in her midst. The wicked are destroyed. A parallel to the Apostolic Writings may be to the giving of the Holy Spirit in each one of us and how the Lord establishes His name in “our midst.” The wicked do not have His presence. Would it be possible for the Lord to establish His name in each of us if we are disobedient to His Torah? The rabbis of Midrash Tehillim 46 speak of two-worlds, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked, and the world changing, the earth being shaken, but Jerusalem will remain and stand fast. The midrash states The verse the nations raged, the kingdoms were moved, He uttered His voice, the earth melted (Tehillim / Psalms 46:7) describes the judgment of the wicked. The world, the path of the wicked, all that they are will be shaken and destroyed. The Lord of hosts is with us (Tehillim / Psalms 46:8) refers to the righteous. The righteous on the other had are the sons of Korach and the sons of Korach say “do not fear.”

The river of the city of God, its streams make glad in Tehillim / Psalms 46:5 draws a parallel to the words from the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 33:21.

Isaiah 33:20-22

33:20 Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an undisturbed habitation, A tent which will not be folded; Its stakes will never be pulled up, Nor any of its cords be torn apart. 33:21 But there the majestic One, the Lord, will be for us A place of rivers and wide canals On which no boat with oars will go, And on which no mighty ship will pass 33:22 For the Lord is our judge, The Lord is our lawgiver, The Lord is our king; He will save us (NASB)

Geologically, the city Jerusalem does not have a river. The city has a well or two, and an intermittent stream for its water supply. The psalm also parallels the vision of living waters flowing from the Temple which Ezekiel saw and may also be a variation on the theme that alludes to the future Messianic period where the mysterious stream will spring up and flow out from beneath the Temple, from the throne of God, etc. The idea of life giving waters that flow from Jerusalem is brought into the context of Jerusalem not having a river suggests that one is to trust upon the Lord God Almighty for all things. (Additional thought: Remember Abraham and Lot and their choosing of land and to part ways? Abraham relied upon God in the mountain regions, Lot trusted in wealth choosing life down by the river.) The gift of God’s presence in the midst of the city makes the rivers wide which gladdens the city of God. This river, which may represent the presence of God is taken within us as we drink and are refreshed. In Ezekiel 47, the vision depicts the river flowing from under the threshold. The waters come down on the south side of the altar. Note the depth of the river, the waters were at the ankles, the knees, the waist, and then deep enough to swim. The angel told Ezekiel to keep pressing forward into the waters. What was the purpose for pressing forward into the flowing river of God? The reason may be that pressing forward, one’s entire body, entire life is encompassed in the living waters. Today, many believers have become content with the shallow waters, they get just enough Jesus, just enough of the River of Life to be saved, but choose to remain in the shallow ankle deep regions so one can live his/her life as he/she sees fit. We need to grow in our faith, to learn what it means to live for the Lord, what it means to abide in Christ. The Lord wants us to forsake all and proceed further into what He has for us, away from the tradition of men and into the fullness of God’s Word, the fullness of His Son, the fullness of life in God’s ways according to the commandment (1 John 2:6, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” NASB). Midrash Tehillim 46, Part 3 concludes saying, “Hence, it is said, therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed (Tehillim / Psalms 46:3), and also it is said, For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness will not depart from you, neither will the covenant of My peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:10). Here Isaiah says the mountains will be removed but God’s mercy will not be removed. Yeshua said in Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” The point of the midrash is that God is the One who gives us life and sustains us. Every material thing will fail, depart, perish, or be removed, but God’s promises will remain forever, firm, and secure. The covenant of peace and the covenant of the promises are built upon the eternal love of God in the Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua is the guaranteer of the hope that we have and in and through Yeshua we come into the covenant of peace that God has promised to His people. Therefore, with confidence we can proclaim:

Tehillim 46-Part1-and-2

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!