When the Waters Roar

“If the waters roar and swell

And the mountains are torn asunder

in his eminence… Selah.”

(Psalm 46:4 {verse 3 in English})

This verse forms the conclusion of the previous one. Again, the language of the waters being churned up and the mountains being rent asunder and utterly obliterated is in sight, but the final clause of this verse adds a new element. Each of the English translations that I have come across render it something like “at its swelling.” The picture that they paint is that of the mountains being destroyed by the sea that is rising up and crashing against it — a natural effect of erosion and water that is intensified during great storms.

The term that is being rendered here is the Hebrew word hÎwSaÅ…g  (ga’awah) and only in this one case do our English Bibles render this term as “roaring” as the sea might do. Most commonly this term is used to describe someone acting arrogantly or pridefully as found in Isaiah 13:11 where God is judging mankind for their arrogance before him. Our English translators have recognized this and presume that the psalmist is personifying the wave and thinking that the wave is acting arrogantly as it tears asunder the mountain. Yet, that does not suit the spirit of the psalmist’s words. The psalmist is speaking of one’s trust in God no matter what takes place even if taken to the point of the end of the earth, when God rends all things asunder. 

Yet, how does the idea of pride or arrogance play into the interpretation of this psalm? Well, the term גַּאֲוָה (ga’awah) only is translated as “pride” or “arrogance” when applied to men, yet when you find the verse applied to God, as in Deuteronomy 33:26 and Psalm 68:35, it speaks of His majesty and glory. Why is the term rendered differently when applied to God and to men? It should be obvious in that God is power and might and glory and majesty exemplified. One cannot boast greatly enough or wonderfully enough in his name, but we men do little more than play at glory in comparison. Our glory is as far separated from the Glory of God as a flickering candle is separated from the mighty sun. Thus, when men speak of their own glory, it is arrogance; yet when we speak of the glory of God, it is rightly ascribed.

Scripture often speaks of the earth quaking in the presence of God, especially as it anticipates end things. Here is just one more example of scripture speaking as such. Indeed, once again, as the Psalmist proclaims, we will not fear the coming of God’s presence in power and even in judgement, for indeed we are finding our refuge and our glory in him. May all others quake in fear.

About preacherwin

A pastor, teacher, and a theologian concerned about the confused state of the church in America and elsewhere...Writing because the Christian should think Biblically.

Posted on April 28, 2021, in Expositions, Psalms and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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