When we think of God, we most often think of Him as being high and lifted up, towering in the heavens, full of majesty. David writes, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). To be sure, God identifies Himself as the Most High, exalted over all. This is the truth of His divine transcendence.
But God is also, at the same time, immanent. That is, He is near and close to us, every moment of our lives. Being omnipresent, there is no place where God does not exist, from the heights of heaven to the depths of the earth. He is with the angels above and the saints below, both in heaven and on the earth.
Both of these realities—God’s transcendence and immanence—are true. And both of those divine aspects come together in Psalm 46. As “the Lord of hosts,” He is transcendent. As God “with us,” He is immanent.
Specifically, the psalmist says, “The LORD of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our stronghold” (verse 7). As the LORD of hosts, God is elevated above us. Yet as the God of Jacob, He is dwelling with us.
“The Lord of Hosts”
In the first line, the psalmist states, “The LORD of hosts is with us.” This name for God—“The LORD of hosts”—tells us much about who He is. LORD is the rendering for Jehovah––or Yahweh—which means He is self-sufficient within Himself. He is without beginning and without end, unchanging and forever the same.
Added to this divine name is the truth that God is “the LORD of hosts.” The word “hosts” means ‘armies,’ indicating that He is the commander-in-chief of the armies of heaven. This is a reference to the angels of heaven, myriads and myriads of spirit beings, at His beckoning. One angel was capable of defeating thousands of the LORD’s foes. How great must be the vast numbers of heaven’s forces around the throne of the Almighty?
“Is With Us”
This God, the psalmist asserts, “is with us.” This testifies to the immanence of God, which echoes the beginning of this psalm. There, we read, God is “a very present help in trouble” (verse 1). This truth of His nearness is so important that it will also be repeated verbatim as the chorus in verse 11.
Note the verb tense for “is”—it is present tense. That is to say, the LORD of hosts is always with us. This does not say that He was once with them in the past in better times, but He is no longer with them in this troubling hour. Nor does this say that He will one day be with them once times will be better. To the contrary, this affirms that God was with them that very moment—in the battle, in the trial, in the difficulties they faced.
Here is the doctrine of the omnipresence of God, that He is everywhere present. God is present in heaven, throughout the earth, and even in hell. There is no place where God is not present—then, now, and forever.
Granted, there are certain places where God makes His presence more fully known. He makes His presence more known where His word is rightly preached than where His truth is withheld from the people. He makes Himself known more in believers than unbelievers. As Emmanuel—meaning “God with us”—He is always with us, through thick and thin, to supply all His resources for our lives, according to His will.
John Knox, the great Scottish Reformer, once said, “One plus God makes a majority.” If God is with you, you have all that you need. In fact, you have far more than you need. Even if you have to stand against the world alone, the Lord is with you. If you are a believer, let me reassure you, the Lord is with you.
“The God of Jacob”
In the second line of verse 7, the psalmist writes, “The God of Jacob is our stronghold.” This name for God—“the God of Jacob”—means He is the God of His people. “Jacob” represents all twelve tribes of the chosen nation. He truly is the God of all His people.
As “the God of Jacob,” He possesses His people, provides for them, and protects them. He dwells with them in their midst. He goes before them to make the way. He walks beside them to commune with them. He lives within them to strengthen and comfort them. He comes under them to uphold them. He follows behind them to protect them from their enemies.
“Is Our Stronghold”
Again, please note the verb tense, “is.” He is always our stronghold. When the psalmist says God is our stronghold, He is that only to those who have repented of their sins, and put their faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are a genuine believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then God is your stronghold.
The word “stronghold” pictures a secured fortress located in an elevated position. It means literally a high and safe place. It is situated in a lofty position that is unassailable by any foe that would come against it. God is the “stronghold” for all believers who have fled to Him for refuge.
The divine protection of believers is a major theme that runs throughout the Psalms (9:9; 48:3; 62:2,6). When you place your faith in the LORD, you are living inside a secured fortress that cannot be penetrated by spiritual enemies. You may be tempted, but illicit lures will not gain a foothold in your soul, as you are abiding in this impenetrable stronghold. No temptation has overcome us, but that God is faithful to give us a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). With Him as our stronghold, we have perfect protection and peace.
Is God your stronghold? Is He present with you, to give you the protection that you need in these perilous days? With all kinds of pressures raging against us, you need to be in the safe place of His all-sufficient grace.
Never will you need to be in this stronghold more than on the last day. There is presently a gathering storm of divine wrath that will be pronounced upon all unbelievers in the final judgment.
You will need a safe place to stand when His fury will be unleashed against all sin. Only those in the Lord Jesus Christ will be safe and secure. May this be true for you today.