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Mizmor 046 - From Turbulence to Tranquility

(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי קֹרַח עַל עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר: (ב) אֱלֹקִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת נִמְצָא מְאֹד:
(1) For the musician, by the sons of Korach. A song [to be accompanied on the instrument called] alamos.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 4]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 046 - From Turbulence to Tranquility
The mizmor was composed as a song of chizuk (encouragement) for a time such as the present when Yisrael is looking forward to the Geulah (Redemption). As we approach the period of mashiach we must be prepared to endure a period of worldwide turbulence during which the nations of the world battle each other for supremacy (the War of Gog and Magog).
The mizmor encourages us not to fear being trampled in the worldwide upheaval. We are under the protection of Hashem and when the nations finally recognize His power, there will be universal peace. The Jewish people will then experience the tranquility of joyful service to Hashem.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. STRENGTH AMID TURBULENCE. The singer alludes to the coming world upheaval and encourages us to bravely endure the storm for we can be certain that Hashem will protect us.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי קֹרַח עַל עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר: (ב) אֱלֹקִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת נִמְצָא מְאֹד: (ג) עַל כֵּן לֹא נִירָא בְּהָמִיר אָרֶץ וּבְמוֹט הָרִים בְּלֵב יַמִּים: (ד) יֶהֱמוּ יֶחְמְרוּ מֵימָיו יִרְעֲשׁוּ הָרִים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ סֶלָה:
(1) For the musician, by the sons of Korach. A song [to be accompanied on the instrument called] alamos. (2) G-d [will be] our shelter and strength. [His] help with troubles [will be] very quickly forthcoming. (3) Therefore, we will not be afraid when He transforms the earth, when mountains tip over into the midst of the seas. (4) His waters will roar and churn, [as] mountains quake before His majesty.
PART 2. PEACE AND TRANQUILITY. We are then assured that Yisrael will emerge safely from the worldwide conflict and that universal peace and tranquility will reign. This section ends with a stirring expression of Hashem’s enduring commitment to the protection of the Jewish people.
(ה) נָהָר פְּלָגָיו יְשַׂמְּחוּ עִיר אֱלֹקִים קְדֹשׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן: (ו) אֱלֹקִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ בַּל תִּמּוֹט יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹקִים לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר: (ז) הָמוּ גוֹיִם מָטוּ מַמְלָכוֹת נָתַן בְּקוֹלוֹ תָּמוּג אָרֶץ: (ח) ה' צְבָא־וֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה:
(5) [There is a] river. Its streams will make the City of G-d rejoice, the holiest of the dwelling places of the Most High. (6) G-d [will be] in its midst, it will not be toppled. G-d will help it towards the dawn. (7) Nations [will be] in turmoil, and kingdoms [will] totter. [Hashem will] raise His voice [and the nations of] the earth will dissolve. (8) Hashem, Master of Legions, is with us. [He is a] stronghold for us, the G-d of Yaakov, Selah.
PART 3. A TIME FOR REFLECTION. The singer calls upon us to visualize what it will feel like when the storm has passed. We will then reflect on what the upheaval will have taught us.
(ט) לְכוּ חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת ה' אֲשֶׁר שָׂם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ: (י) מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת עַד קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ קֶשֶׁת יְשַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּץ חֲנִית עֲגָלוֹת יִשְׂרֹף בָּאֵשׁ:
(9) Come and reflect upon the acts of Hashem for He has made a cataclysm in the earth. (10) He cancels wars to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow and splinters the spear. He burns the war wagons in fire.
PART 4. CHALLENGE TO THE NATIONS. We hear the voice of G-d warning the nations to desist from their evil ways and recognize that their efforts of achieving supremacy will be fruitless.
(יא) הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ כִּי אָנֹכִי אֱלֹקִים אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ:
(11) [Desist [from wars] and know that I am G-d. I shall be exalted among the nations. I shall be exalted upon the [entire] earth.”
PART 5. CONCLUSION. In conclusion the singer expresses the voice of the Jewish people advising all of mankind to accept the will of Hashem. This last posuk is actually identical to posuk 8, but it now takes on new meaning as a challenge to the nations of the world to acknowledge the truth of Hashem’s power in the world.
(יב) ה' צְבָא־וֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה:
(12) “Hashem, Master of Legions, is with us, a stronghold for us, the G-d of Yaakov, Selah.”
Learning the Mizmor
PART 1. STRENGTH AMID TURBULENCE.
(א) לַמְנַצֵּחַ לִבְנֵי קֹרַח
This mizmor was prepared for the musician — לַמְנַצֵּחַ  after being composed by the sons of Korach  לִבְנֵי קֹרַח .
עַל עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר:
The mizmor was meant to be performed on the instrument called alamos — עַל עֲלָמוֹת , which means concealment. It signifies that while the direct influence of Hashem upon world events is hidden from us, the time will come that everything will be clear. Thoughts of that glorious time make this mizmor a song — שִׁיר  of joy.
(ב) אֱלֹקִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז 
עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת 
נִמְצָא מְאֹד:
When we are attacked by many powerful nations, G-d will be our shelter to protect us — אֱלֹקִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה  and He will be our strength — וָעֹז  to withstand our enemies. His essential help — עֶזְרָה  when we are faced with troubles  בְצָרוֹת  will be very quickly forthcoming  נִמְצָא מְאֹד , much more so than might occur through chance or nature.
(ג) עַל כֵּן לֹא נִירָא בְּהָמִיר אָרֶץ
Therefore — עַל כֵּן , because of our bitachonwe will not be afraid  לֹא נִירָא – when world events go through a convulsive upheaval. Because of Hashem’s compassion and love for us, the cataclysm will end up being to our benefit when He interchanges — בְּהָמִיר  the relative power positions of the nations of the earth  אָרֶץ . Those which are powerful today will be diminished and those which are weak will become strong. And the small nation of Yisrael will no longer cower in fear before the surrounding giants.
וּבְמוֹט הָרִים בְּלֵב יַמִּים:
This will be a time when the great nations, which are like mighty mountains, tip over — וּבְמוֹט הָרִים  into the midst of the turbulent seas — בְּלֵב יַמִּים  of the world’s peoples and are overwhelmed.
(ד) יֶהֱמוּ יֶחְמְרוּ מֵימָיו 
יִרְעֲשׁוּ הָרִים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ סֶלָה:
We will not be afraid because we know that while battling each other for supremacy the enemy nations are all agents of Hashem’s will. His waters will roar with violent waves and churn with volcanic mud — יֶהֱמוּ יֶחְמְרוּ מֵימָיו , as the great mountains quake before His majesty — יִרְעֲשׁוּ הָרִים בְּגַאֲוָתוֹ , Selah — סֶלָה .
PART 2. PEACE AND TRANQUILITY.
(ה) נָהָר, פְּלָגָיו יְשַׂמְּחוּ עִיר 
אֱלֹקִים קְדֹשׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן
In contrast to the turbulent waters of destruction which the nations will have to endure, there is a river — נָהָר  of spiritual peace and serenity that will flow from the Bais Hamikdash (Temple in Yerushayim). Its streams will make the people of the City of G-d rejoice  פְּלָגָיו יְשַׂמְּחוּ עִיר אֱלֹקִים  in the Geulah for it is the holiest of the dwelling places of the Most High  קְדֹשׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן  that exist throughout the world. The spiritual power of the Torah will flow from that holy source in the Bais Hamikdash to every Bais HaMidrash, wherever it may be.
(ו) אֱלֹקִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ בַּל תִּמּוֹט 
יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹקִים לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר:
Even though there will be destruction all around Yerushalayim, G-d will be in its midst  אֱלֹקִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ  to reinstate it and to protect it. Therefore, it will not be toppled  בַּל תִּמּוֹט  and even if many are lost, a substantial remnant will survive. G-d will help it fufill its destiny towards the dawn  יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹקִים לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר  when the night of the galus is darkest.
(ז) הָמוּ גוֹיִם מָטוּ מַמְלָכוֹת 
נָתַן בְּקוֹלוֹ תָּמוּג אָרֶץ:
Nations will be in turmoil  הָמוּ גוֹיִם , seeking to attack Yisrael, but those kingdoms will totter  מָטוּ מַמְלָכוֹת  and will fall. Hashem will raise His voice  נָתַן בְּקוֹלוֹ  to decree that the nations of the earth which oppose Him will dissolve  תָּמוּג אָרֶץ  in confusion and fear.
(ח) ה‘ צְבָקוֹת עִמָּנוּ
In contrast to the falling nations, be assured that Yisrael will rise and emerge victorious. This is because Hashem, Who is the Master of all the Legions of ministering angels, is with us  ה' צְבָקוֹת עִמָּנוּ  and will save us.
מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה:
We take comfort in the knowledge that He is a stronghold for us — מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ . In fact, He has always been the G-d of Yaakov  אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב , helping Yaakov through every travail, Selah  סֶלָה .
PART 3. A TIME FOR REFLECTION.
(ט) לְכוּ חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת ה‘ 
אֲשֶׁר שָׂם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ:
[When the Geulah is here we will call out to the nations of the world:] Come and reflect upon the wondrous acts of Hashem  לְכוּ חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת ה' . He has waged war against those powerful nations who have sought to destroy the tiny nation of Yisrael. What we have seen is not a chance occurrence. It is all Hashem’s doing. For He has made of them a cataclysm in the earth  אֲשֶׁר שָׂם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ  as a necessary step to universal recognition that He is Master of the earth and dictates universal tranquility.
(י) מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת עַד קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ 
קֶשֶׁת יְשַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּץ חֲנִית 
עֲגָלוֹת יִשְׂרֹף בָּאֵשׁ:
He cancels wars  מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת  for all mankind to the end of the earth  עַד קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ because everyone is united in serving Him. Thus, there is no further use for the weapons of war. He breaks the bow and splinters the spear  קֶשֶׁת יְשַׁבֵּר וְקִצֵּץ חֲנִית . He burns the war wagons in fire  עֲגָלוֹת יִשְׂרֹף בָּאֵשׁ . All disputes among nations are resolved peacefully and wisely by the Melech HaMashiach, that is, the Mashiach acting in his capacity as king.
PART 4. CHALLENGE TO THE NATIONS.
(יא) הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ כִּי אָנֹכִי אֱלֹקִים
Desist immediately from wars and evil practices and know well that I am G-d  הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ כִּי אָנֹכִי אֱלֹקִים . Your victory or defeat is in My hands alone.
אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ:
Even if you don’t realize it now, there will come a time when all the world recognizes Me. Then I shall be exalted among the nations  אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם – because they will see My power over them. Then I shall be exalted upon the entire earth  אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ  and all wars will cease.
PART 5. CONCLUSION.
(יב) ה‘ צְבָקוֹת עִמָּנוּ
You nations of the world may assemble powerful weapons of war, but you will not prevail, for Hashem, Who is the Master of all the Legions of ministering angels, is with us  ה' צְבָקוֹת עִמָּנוּ  and He will save us.
מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה:
Be aware that He is a stronghold for us — מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ . In fact, He has always been the G-d of Yaakov  אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב , helping Yaakov through every travail, Selah  סֶלָה .
Living the Mizmor
Listed below are some of the lessons that you can draw from this mizmor, as well as some of the thoughts you might have in mind when you say the words of the mizmor as a tefillah, expressing your devotion to Hashem.
Lessons for Life - Your Attitude.
[46:2] CATACLYSM. – אֱלֹקִים לָנוּ מַחֲסֶה וָעֹז עֶזְרָה בְצָרוֹת נִמְצָא מְאֹד – “G-d [will be] our shelter and strength. [His] help with troubles [will be] very quickly forthcoming.” When faced with cataclysmic events in nature, such as earthquakes and floods, you should maintain your peace of mind, for Hashem is your shelter.
[46:3] – עַל כֵּן לֹא נִירָא בְּהָמִיר אָרֶץ וּבְמוֹט הָרִים בְּלֵב יַמִּים – “Therefore, we will not be afraid when He transforms the earth, when mountains tip over into the midst of the seas.
[46:5] YERUSHALAYIM. – נָהָר פְּלָגָיו יְשַׂמְּחוּ עִיר אֱלֹקִים קְדֹשׁ מִשְׁכְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן – “[There is a] river. Its streams will make the City of G-d rejoice, the holiest of the dwelling places of the Most High.” In the face of world turbulence you should be calmed by your bitachon that when the Geulah comes, a river of spiritual peace and serenity will flow from the Bais Hamikdash throughout the world.
[46:6] – אֱלֹקִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ בַּל תִּמּוֹט יַעְזְרֶהָ אֱלֹקִים לִפְנוֹת בֹּקֶר – “G-d [will be] in its midst, it will not be toppled. G-d will help it towards the dawn.” As the dawn of the Geulah approaches, even if there is destruction all around, Yerushalayim will be protected.
[46:8] BITACHON. – ה' צְבָא־וֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹקֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה – “Hashem, Master of Legions, is with us. [He is a] stronghold for us, the G-d of Yaakov, Selah.” Be confident in the permanent bond that Hashem has with the Jewish people.
Tehillos for Life - Contemplation of Hashem.
[46:1] CONCEALMENT. – עַל עֲלָמוֹת שִׁיר – “A song [to be accompanied on the instrument called] alamos (concealment).” While the direct influence of Hashem upon world events is hidden from us, the time will come that everything will be clear.
[46:9] WAR. – לְכוּ חֲזוּ מִפְעֲלוֹת ה' אֲשֶׁר שָׂם שַׁמּוֹת בָּאָרֶץ – “Come and reflect upon the acts of Hashem for He has made a cataclysm in the earth.” Hashem will reveal His power when He wages victorious war against those powerful nations who seek to destroy the tiny nation of Yisrael.
[46:10] PEACE. – מַשְׁבִּית מִלְחָמוֹת עַד קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ – “He cancels wars to the end of the earth.” Hashem will cancel war for all mankind because everyone will be united in devotion to Him.
[46:11]. הַרְפּוּ וּדְעוּ כִּי אָנֹכִי אֱלֹקִים אָרוּם בַּגּוֹיִם אָרוּם בָּאָרֶץ – “[Desist [from wars] and know that I am G-d. I shall be exalted among the nations. I shall be exalted upon the [entire] earth.
Sources
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses of this mizmor are listed below.
א - רש"י, רד"ק, בן־רמוך, רשר"ה
ב - רד"ק, ספורנו, אלשיך, נר לרגלי
ג - רד"ק, המאירי, ספורנו, מצודות, רשר"ה
ד - רש"י, רד"ק, בן־רמוך, מצודות, מלבי"ם
ה - רד"ק, ספורנו, אבן יחייא
ו - רד"ק, המאירי, בן־רמוך, ספורנו
ז - רד"ק, המאירי, מצודות
ח - בן־רמוך
ט - רד"ק, בן־רמוך, אבן יחייא, מלבי"ם,
י - רד"ק, מאיר טוב
יא - אבן עזרא, רד"ק, ספורנו, נר לרגלי
יב - מאיר טוב