Psalm 46 is a triumphant song of confidence and faith for God’s people facing difficult circumstances, Reformation and church history scholar Scott M. Manetsch told a Samford University audience Oct. 26.
“For nearly three millennia God’s people have found comfort and gained strength from this beloved psalm,” Dr. Manetsch said at Samford’s Beeson Divinity School. Psalm 46 was one of Martin Luther’s favorite passages in the Bible, and it was also favored by John Wesley and his brother, Charles, Manetsch said.
“The emotive power of Psalm 46 comes from its blunt honesty and its sturdy confidence in the Lord,” said Manetsch. As such, it represents “a sure defense in desperate times,” he said.
Manetsch is chair of the church history and history of Christian thought department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. He delivered the annual Reformation Heritage Lectures at Beeson.
Psalm 46 celebrates God’s protection of his people, God’s presence with his people and God’s powerful deliverance of his people, Manetsch noted. “In times of extreme peril, people who trust in God can be confident of his protection, his presence, and his powerful deliverance,” he said.
“As Christians, this is a wonderful promise for us, isn’t it?” he added.
“The bold and confident message of Psalm 46 is nowhere better illustrated in Christian biography than in the life of Protestant reformer Martin Luther,” said Manetsch. Luther’s life was filled with troubles and sadness, he suffered bouts of depression and was hunted as a heretic because of his defense of the Gospel, he said.
“In the midst of all these difficulties, Luther often sought refuge in Psalm 46,” said Manetsch, and in the late 1520s, wrote one of his best known hymns, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” based on Psalm 46.
Manetsch spoke on the topic, “A Sure Defense in Desperate Times,” in the first of four lectures on the theme, “The Reformation of the Pastoral Office.”