Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
As he begins to discuss Psalm 46, Augustine reminds his readers, as is his custom, that the text looks forward to fulfillment in Christ, the perfect end, or outcome, of God’s revelation (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324141). In verse one, God is a real refuge, a strong place, which Augustine compares to some of our attempts at finding security in a place of danger. Because of the world’s uncertainty, we cannot rely on our own ideas of safety. Regardless of the danger, the Christian turns to Jesus (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324150). For this reason, as we read in verse two, we do not fear. Augustine compres this confident lack of fear to the security Jesus felt when asleep in the story-tossed boat. Though the danger was palpable, Jesus did not fear. The same lack of fear applies to God’s people even when surrounded by great destructive power (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324176). Augustine further compres the Gospel preached to Gentiles to Christ, who is described as a mountain thrown into the sea. In itself it was terrifying to the onlookers but the result was for good, comfort, and security (v. 3). As an illustration, Augustine discusses the uproar created when Paul brought the Gospel to Ephesus (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324192).
In verse four, amid the shaking and roaring of the waters, we find a river of life, making people glad. Augustine considers this as an allegory of the peaceful water of the Holy Spirit, given for God’s people to drink (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324200). The Holy Spirit, given after the glorification of Jesus, filled the early Christians with joy. Augustine sees this also in verse five, as the sign of God in the midst of His people, a secure place. He raises the question here about God’s local presence, as the Psalm could be taken to limit God to one place. On the contrary, Augustine states that God “is contained in no place, whose seat is in the conscience of the godly” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324217). Even if humans were to fall away, God would remain. God’s presence is anywhere it is needed. In this way God is in the midst of His people.
Verse six speaks of the “heathen” being troubled. They are bowed down. Augustine sees this as a bowing down to adore the true God, who has confronted them (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324226). The revelation of God’s presence troubles unbelievers. Their most reasonable course of action is to honor and adore God. In case we should have any doubt about God’s self-revelation, Augustine describes several places in Scripture where God revealed himself through miraculous means. Verse seven identifies this God clearly as “The Lord of Hosts.” Augustine ties this Lord very specifically with Jesus, God the Son, who calls all to himself (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324250).
In verse eight the Psalmist calls us to see God’s works. Augustine stresses the need to come, see the Lord, and be moved to believe (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324257). He emphasizes the need to believe the Lord before being broken and crushed at His coming, when Christ will be the judge of all. The evidence should be overshelming: Christ is depicted as the mighty mountain of God, not easily overlooked. For now, the Lord’s work is that of peace (v. 9). He can even end wars, but Augustine considers that true work to be ending the wars against God. He will end that war by striking down the ungodly (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324279). The end of ungodliness will be violent, as Augistine shows using several Scriptural allusions.
In conclusion, verse 10 calls God’s people to be still and see that He is God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 324297). We are not God. Only He is the true God. Our role is to put down our arguments against God. He is the one who, in verse eleven, has shown himself in glory as the one who takes up and cares for His people. His promises and person last forever. This brings hope and salvation.