There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

Psalm 46:4

Sonnet for Psalm 46

Be still and know that God is our fortress.
This, we are told, is God’s promise of old.
But how to be still when storms confront us?
Or know and trust when doubt gnaws at our soul?
There is a river whose streams make us glad,
It changes each day, and yet is the same.
Flowing from heaven, it seeks out the sad,
The weary, the lonely, all who feel shame.
Come to this river, be baptized in love,
Be named and claimed and sheltered in your storm,
Be given the Spirit, God’s holy dove,
And in life’s battle, find hope in God’s Son.
Be still, then, trust that God never changes,
Our refuge and strength throughout the ages.


Psalm 46 is one of my favorites, and I turn to it often when I face trials in life. I love the promise that God will be our refuge and strength, and I always welcome the invitation to “Be still and know that I am God.” But it can be difficult to remain still in the midst of a storm, can’t it? What then? This psalm also offers an image of a river, “whose streams make glad the city of God.” I thought about all of the rivers mentioned in scripture, and then I thought about the paradox that while a river is always changing, it is at the same time always there. Much like God’s love, which is always there but also changing endlessly to meet our needs.

Here, then, is a passage from Psalm 46, followed by other scripture passages that I had in mind when I wrote the sonnet, along with the sonnet again, followed by a closing prayer:

Psalm 46:1-7, 10

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”

Scripture Readings

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” – Mark 1:9-11

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. – Revelation 22:1-2

Sonnet for Psalm 46

Be still and know that God is our fortress.
This, we are told, is God’s promise of old.
But how to be still when storms confront us?
Or know and trust when doubt gnaws at our soul?
There is a river whose streams make us glad,
It changes each day, and yet is the same.
Flowing from heaven, it seeks out the sad,
The weary, the lonely, all who feel shame.
Come to this river, be baptized in love,
Be named and claimed and sheltered in your storm,
Be given the Spirit, God’s holy dove,
And in life’s battle, find hope in God’s Son.
Be still, then, trust that God never changes,
Our refuge and strength throughout the ages.

Closing Prayer

Loving God, you invite us to be still when storms confront us, and to trust you to be our refuge and strength. You have named us and claimed us as your beloved children, come what may. Your love flows freely, and upon us all. Thank you for this promise, and when we forget it, forgive us for our lack of faith. Help us to be still, and to know you and trust you, today and always. In Jesus’ name. Amen

6 thoughts on “Sonnet for Psalm 46

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