In the previous lesson on Psalm 46, we looked at the structure of Interrogation. Now let’s look at another structure in this psalm: Contrast.
You may remember looking at Contrast in an earlier lesson. Feel free to review that here, if you’d like a refresher: Ever Notice All the Opposites in the Bible?
In our study of Interrogation in Psalm 46, we noticed that the author describes many problems and shows how God is the solution. You can see the structure of Contrast (opposites) overlapping with those Problems/Solutions. The peace we find in the presence of God is a direct Contrast to all the problems in the world.
Here is what I noticed about Contrast in Psalm 46:
In the first main unit (verses 1-3), the psalmist focuses up close on natural disasters. The second main unit (verses 4-7) steps back from this, almost at a distance, and brings the reader into the peaceful setting of God’s dwelling. This encourages the reader to exhale and watch as God deals with the raging nations from His place of peace (verses 4-6). It’s the change of setting that shows the Contrast: from up close in the midst of disaster to stepping back to a place of peace. Even though the disasters have not gone away, God’s peace becomes the focus.
Then in the third main unit (verses 8-11), the psalmist seems to return to a more close-up view, this time to man-made disasters such as war. And there, God’s peace and power are experienced directly on the earth, in the midst of all of the upheaval. Therefore, this contrasting structure shows similar situations and a similar response from God, but in different aspects of God as a refuge.
It seems that in the third main unit, the psalmist combines what he teaches in the first two main units, and brings them together in the midst of chaos in the world. The reader is invited to experience God’s peace in the chaos.
Take some time this weekend to meditate on Psalm 46, looking particularly at the Contrasts used in the psalm. Why do you think the psalmist showed those Contrasts to his earliest readers? What would that message have meant to them? Ask God to reveal their perspective to you – to see how the earliest readers would have heard this message of Contrasts. What truths of God would they have seen in this passage? Prayerfully write about that in your journal.
Once you can truly see a Bible passage as it was written for the first readers, then you can take those truths and apply them to your life today.