Recently, while I was relaxing on the living room sofa, my wife asked me the meaning of a certain Bible verse. She had already drawn her own conclusion regarding the text but she wanted my opinion to validate that she had come to the correct interpretation.

So I looked up the verse and started reading from the beginning of the chapter. Then I examined different translations and even reviewed some of the popular commentaries on the text. I think I annoyed my wife just a little because she really wasn’t asking for an in-depth Bible study. She just wanted my first impression upon reading the verse.

After several minutes of examining the verse, I told my wife what I believed was the correct meaning. Then, out of curiosity, I inquired why she had asked in the first place. She proceeded to show me an example of how the verse in question was being used by some of her online acquaintances. I stared at the quotes on the computer screen in disbelief. I just couldn’t comprehend how it was possible to draw such a muddied conclusion from what appeared to be a crystal clear verse.

Immediately, the moment brought to mind the lyrics to a popular children’s praise song.

“Every promise in the book is mine
Every chapter, every verse, and every line”

It certainly has a very catchy tune, but it simply isn’t true. While all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), each and every promise found within its pages are NOT all ours. It is so very important when reading the Bible to be careful not to wrestle passages out of their context, spiritualize or allegorize them, or apply them to our lives in a way the passage never intended.


In this particular case, Psalm 46:5 was being used by some well-meaning Christian women, as a promise that they shall not fall or be prevailed against because God is within them. While it is true that the presence of the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, this particular passage is not speaking of the power of God’s mighty presence in the lives of godly women. In fact, this verse really isn’t a promise for women at all, at least not any women who exist today.

Let’s take a look at the verse in question, in both the King James and New International Versions:

“God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved:
God shall help her, and that right early.”
Psalm 46:5 (KJV)

“God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.”
Psalm 46:5 (NIV)


The first and most important question we should ask ourselves is “Who is the author of this Psalm writing about?” The use of the personal pronoun “her” seems to refer to a woman, but when we read the preceding verse, we will find that the word “her” is not referring to a person at all, but the “city of God,” Jerusalem. This verse isn’t saying that any woman with the indwelling Holy Spirit will not be moved. It’s saying that the city of God will not fall because God is in “her” midst. God’s very presence in the Tabernacle assured His people, some of which were indeed women, the victory.

The psalmist begins by declaring that God is Jerusalem’s source of refuge and strength. Because He is in the midst of the city (v. 4-5), the people need not fear, for they shall not fall. Though calamity and upheaval occur all around them (v. 2-3) and nations rage against them (v. 6), they will prevail, because God is on their side.

This is truly a tremendous promise for God’s people. God assures the deliverance of the people in His holy city, simply because He is in their presence. Who can prevail against the people of God?


There is, of course, a spiritual application that can be made from this passage. It brings to mind Romans 8:31, in which Paul triumphantly asks, “if God be for us, who can be against us?” The implication, of course, is “No one!” Then again Paul asks, in verse 33, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” And again the implied answer is, “No one!” Then, two verses later, God inspires the Apostle Paul to ask one more time, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” This time, however, we need not determine the implied answer. Paul leaves no doubt, as he answers his own question, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (v. 37-39)

Paul never promised that distress, famines, nakedness and even death would not visit the lives of God’s dear elect. He simply stated that none of these things can separate us from His love. All who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ are “more than conquerors.” We are justified, declared righteous, by the blood of our Savior. Though troubles, sickness, and death may afflict our mortal flesh, nothing can take away our “eternal crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4, that “crown of righteousness” that will be awarded us at our Lord’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).

The victory over sin and death cannot be achieved by an act of human will but only through faith in Jesus Christ and what He achieved for us. He is the Victor and we are victorious through Him. Though this is a very true and practical spiritual application that can be drawn from Psalm 46:5, the context of the verse is very clear that the psalmist is not speaking of a “spiritual victory” but actual “physical triumph” over the perils of that particular time. This is why he referred to God as a “very present help in trouble.”

Contrast this again with Paul, who said, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10). And with James: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience,” (James 1:2-3). And with Peter: “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Clearly, the New Testament authors taught the possibility that believers might have to experience very real physical troubles and persecution. The author of Psalm 46, however, writes of the deliverance of the city of God from their present troubles. This is not a promise for believers today. Though believers in this life have spiritually overcome the grave, through Jesus Christ, we yet await our physical deliverance from the burdens of this life.

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,
according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Philippians 3:20-21

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Romans 8:22-23

But thanks be to God that we, like those during the time Psalm 46 was written, do not face our troubles alone. We have the Spirit of God within us. Continuing in Romans 8, Paul tells us that “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:” and “maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” “according to the will of God,” (v. 26-27). Not only that, but Paul informs us that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,” (v. 28).

This is our promise. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego before us, we too shall go through the fires of this life, but not alone. God will be in our midst, in the presence of His Holy Spirit. We need not walk alone. God is always with us. He may not rescue us from the hands of our enemies, but he is always with us when we face our enemies and, though our enemy may take our mortal life, he cannot take away the eternal hope we have in Jesus.

”For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope:
for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
Romans 8:24-25


The hope that Paul speaks of is not the same kind of hope one has for winning the lottery. This hope is assured. It’s a promise, something you can count on–something so wonderful, it’s worth patiently enduring troubles for. This is the kind of hope that caused Christian martyrs, like Perpetua and Felicity, to sing joyous psalms as they faced the unimaginable horrors of the Roman arena.

Perpetua knew the fate that awaited her. She saw in a vision that her battle was not with the wild beasts in the stadium but with the devil himself. She knew she already had the victory in Jesus Christ. Perpetua and her fellow martyrs were so confident of this hope that they saw the day of their martyrdom as the day of their victory, the consummation of that which began the moment they placed their faith in Jesus. Soon they would see their Victor.

Their hope was not in escaping their troubles. Despite the trials that awaited them, they rejoiced because they saw their hope at the end of their race ahead. They fought the good fight and their Hope was now in sight.

Our Hope today is the same Hope that inspired martyrs to sing and the psalmist to praise Jerusalem’s Source of refuge and strength. God is always mighty to save, whether it be from the physical troubles of Psalm 46 or the spiritual deliverance of Romans 8.


When studying Scripture we must always consider the people to whom the passage is written. Just because Jerusalem was promised to receive physical protection from God, does not necessarily mean that we are guaranteed the same today. Could God deliver us from personal troubles today? Absolutely. But Psalm 46 must not be read as a promise for believers today.

One thing from Psalm 46 is true for all people at all times; Whenever God determines that something shall not prevail against us, nothing it throws at us will be able to move us, for our strength is not in ourselves but God alone is our refuge and our strength.

Do you have a popularized verse that you can’t quite fit into your theology? Or do you have a loved one who insists a certain verse is especially for her? I’d love for you to share your trouble verses with me, since this will be an ongoing series here on BBB.

God bless, and be a blessing!

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  1. I have to say when I was going through turmoil from the enemy, I would open my Bible a lot asking God to show me a sign. Well I opened and it and right away this verse literally jumped off the page and it’s the only thing my eyes zoned in on. I have no doubt it was from God. I had never seen the verse before and it felt as God was talking right to me. Since then I see the verse here and there when I never did before. Just thought I’d share. ????

  2. Thank you for reminding me to consider “WHO IS IT TO, WHO IS IT FROM, WHO IS IT ABOUT?” in my Bible study. And, also for the reminder of Promises 🙂

  3. I enjoyed reading this article just now, and have struggled a lit since I was a kid in figuring out which verses actually apply to me or not. As like you’ve said above, there is always context, and very often in the bible, God is talking to a certain person, or a nation etc. For example when he said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” People like this verse a lot, and I used to think well does this apply to me or not? He was talking specifically to Joshua at that time, when he was quite understandably concerned after taking over from Moses who had obviously done a great job at what God had called him to do. I’d like to hear what you think to that. Can I apply that verse to myself too?

  4. I love this article and so grateful for the clarity. I’ve learned that while I don’t always understand the Hebrew and Greek… studying THOSE words – the context in which the Bible was originally written – is what brings me closer to what the Bible is REALLY saying. I never want to hop on an emotional “Christianese” bandwagon, declaring from the mountaintops some truth that God never intended to convey in his word. This is why we have to get our own understanding by studying (rightly dividing the Word)…..for ourselves….. not based on here-say or what others say or MISinterpret or think. Sometimes the REAL interpretations threaten the very theology of those who have been “in church” for years.

  5. I appreciate the thought behind this and appreciate the new view you provided me with – “Who is it for, who is it from, and who is it about?” – And I also, coming from a troubled past wrought with depression and anxiety, appreciate that this verse was helpful to me in one of my times of greatest need. In my mind and what I believe is that God is hope. God’s word is our guiding light and His teachings and principles can be applied to our life today and will still be applicable teachings for eternity. To me, this means God’s word is meant to give us hope and strength in the midst of the battle in whatever way He deems is the help and direction we need, even if that means the original verse was written about a city. Is it not true that God is within each of us whom have the blessing of the Holy Spirit? Is it not true that with the Holy Spirit and God on our side that we are stronger and more resilient than those who are without? To me, that answer is yes. I believe Psalm 46:5 is teaching this message – God is within you, you have refuge and strength in because He dwells within us as the Holy Spirit just as Jesus was physically dwelling in Jerusalem in the scripture. And, even though we have God as our refuge and strength, I also know and agree with you that God’s teachings also say that does not mean we will not face hardships, but we will prevail if we are in Christ.

    1. Hello Kristina;
      i support your stand on this issue 100%.

    2. Porfiria Rentera says:

      As I was reading this article I thought the very same thing you just described. The word of God has sustained me in my times of trouble and of heart ache. It’s about the only thing that kept me going, God truly is who he say’s he is. His hope and promises are yes and amen. I have learned to embrace my rails and tribulations of many , because they will come, but it’s who sustains me in them, which is my lord and savior Jesus Christ. I have walked with him for almost 20 coming this January and God is a man of his word, Numbers 23:19???? . I literally get in his word and try to keep it in context as he teaches his children who seek him diligently. I am not a bible scholar, but I am a daughter of the most high God who was set free from a deep dark pit. God is God and he loves me Holy Spirit is my comforter in times of trouble, and trails and when my emotions come up. He comes to my aid even in hurt I can truly be comforted in him because of the end reward. Thank you for this read thank you Kristina for sharing your heart.?????

  6. I did a little digging of my own, and the Psalm never mentioned Jerusalem by name. It says Gods holy city which makes me think of Zion more than Jerusalem based on other scriptures I’ve read (and a quick google search of “Gods holy city” brings up new Jerusalem or Zion, not the earthly geographical location). My thought is Zion is an idea of a place but not really a physical place, at least the way it’s used in other scripture I’ve come across. It’s more of a figurative place describing heaven or the new earth established in the end times. But ultimately it’s describing Gods people. A city is only a city if there are people there, and generally when you’re talking about a city as a whole in this kind of way, you’re really referring to it’s people. In the case of this psalm and many others, I don’t think it’s wrong to apply it to oneself personally. There are those which should not be used as personal, but God is a very personal God. I believe that He beautifully crafted and orchestrated scripture in such a way that almost anything found in His Word can have both historical and practical spiritual application.

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