River of Zion

“Streams of the River Gladden the City of God”
Psalm 46:5(4) 
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

The Psalm response for this feast is: “The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!” The New American Bible (Revised Edition) translates the Hebrew word peleg in Psalm 46:5(4) as “streams.”

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken
and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,
Though its waters rage and foam
and mountains totter at its surging.

Streams of the river gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken;
God will help it at break of day.
Though nations rage and kingdoms totter,
he utters his voice and the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

Come and see the works of the Lord,
who has done fearsome deeds on earth;
Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,
breaks the bow, splinters the spear,
and burns the shields with fire;
“Be still and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
exalted on the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.


In the midst of social and political chaos and upheaval, symbolized by the quaking earth, mountains, and raging waters, a transcendent vision of paradise penetrates beyond the present turmoil and breaks into song: “Streams of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!” Prophets and seers like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah, and John beheld the living waters of the city of God, Mount Zion (Psalm 48).

God’s presence within us—his dwelling or tabernacle (mishkan)—is our source of stability and peace: “God is in its midst; it shall not be shaken.” The children of God are the “living stones” of the temple of God (2 Peter 2:5).

Recommended reading:

Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, November 9, 2008

2 Replies to “River of Zion”

  1. Dear GMC, Thank you for your reflection on one of my favorite psalms, containing one of my favorite phrases, “Be still and know that I am God.” I learned that the phrase, Be Still, is actually derived from the Hebrew word rapha which means “to be weak, to let go, to release.” Essentially, it means surrender. Thank you, GMC, for inspiring us to learn, as we yearn for the Lord.

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