Published on January 13, 2010 by William Nunnelley  
Posted by William Nunnelley on 2010-10-26

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.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.