“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day.”
– Psalm 46:5 (NIV)
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have seen this verse pop up lately, especially on jewelry and coffee mugs, obviously designed for women. I mean, this verse says that God is within ME, right? So I will not fall?
Again, this is a verse completely taken out of context and used to give false hope to countless women desperate for the real Truth that only Christ can bring.
A Quick History Lesson on Psalm 46
I have written before about Psalm 46. Women are drawn to it like flies to honey, and unfortunately, it is always used out of context and to force law-like behavior down women’s throats (be still = a command to have a daily quiet time in order to “hear” from God).
This a a war psalm.
I don’t know how much more plainly I can write that. This is a psalm about war. Specifically, this is what is known as a “Zion Song:” this is a psalm about “cosmic collapse, political turmoil, and divine intervention.” (Reformation Study Bible, notes, page 883). In fact, this song is the basis for Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Might Fortress is Our God” (ibid).
This is not a personal psalm, a psalm of prayer and praise, or a psalm designed for personal interaction with the Almighty. It was written specifically to and about the Jews in Jerusalem. They are called to be confident that God is always with them, no matter what circumstances they are facing. Can we draw something from that? Yes, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.
The Context of Psalm 46:5
The first rule of properly reading and interpreting Scripture is…context. One must read around the verse in question in order to understand what is happening. So let’s start with verse 1 and read through verse 7:
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 Though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
So if you read this entire section, it’s easy to see that this psalm is not a happy-go-lucky kind of worship piece; something seriously wrong is going on here. People are afraid, the earth is crumbling, and they are searching desperately for hope and safety.
If you look at verse four, you can see that the focus switches from trouble and fear to a telling of the city of God – the place where the Most High dwells.
That would be Heaven, or the New Jerusalem.
Verse five then, refers back to that: the New Jerusalem. Cities are referred to by the feminine pronoun in literature. So when the psalmist here says, “God is within her,” the “her” to which he is referring is the New Jerusalem, or Heaven. When he says “She will not fall,” he is referring to the eternality of Heaven: it will last forever, it will never ever fall, be moved, or any other interpretation you may have seen.
So What Does This Mean For Us?
Well, it means we must stop wearing this verse on our body as jewelry, apparel, and tattoos, for starters. This verse does not mean that God is in US and WE will never fall; it means that God is in Heaven, and Heaven will never fall.
Is God in us? If you are a regenerated believer, then, yes, you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. Will you fall? Yes. Unless you have somehow become perfect (aka glorified and now reside in Heaven) then you will fall. This psalm is not a promise for you, in modern America, to name and claim as your very own. It was written to a specific group of people about a specific situation, and it has a very specific meaning.
Can we believe that God is with us and will help is in times of trouble? Absolutely! We have an entire canon of Scripture that teaches us the God is with us, will never leave us, and will assist us as He sees fit.
Ladies, I am begging you, please start reading your Bibles, thoroughly. Stop cherry-picking verses to fit your mood, your situation, your desired outcome, your goals, your whatever. Read your Bible in context, and learn what it is God really means. It will be so much more beneficial to you. Search out good people from which to learn, and do not assume that just because a verse sounds like it’s promising you good things that you can automatically claim that in your life.
So again, God with us, absolutely, but Psalm 46:5 is not a verse to use to claim that God is within us and we will never fall…because we women are not the “her” in the verse.