Emmanuel

The author of Psalm 46 wants us to know that God is not a distant and detached monarch. He is very much involved in our lives, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” We may be surrounded by turmoil. “The waters” may “roar and be troubled,” and “the mountains” may “shake,” but the author twice assures us, “the Lord of Hosts is with us” (Psalm 46:7, 11), and the Lord Himself says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

The word “with” in Hebrew is im (עִם). The word “us” is anachnu (אֲנַחְנוּ), which is sometimes contracted to anu (אֲנוּ). So the phrase “the Lord of Hosts is with us” ends with the word immanu (עִמָּ֑נוּ), “with us.” (See Psalm 46:11 in Hebrew on biblehub.com.)

When Isaiah promised King Ahaz that the Assyrian army would not overthrow his kingdom, he made a prophecy which also made reference to the birth of Jesus Christ:

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14, 2 Nephi 17:14

The name Immanuel (עִמָּנוּאֵל) means “God is with us.” Immanu = with us; El = God.

In the following chapter, Isaiah describes the upcoming Assyrian invasion in terms reminiscent of Psalm 46. He compares the king of Assyria to a river, saying “he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: and he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck [the capital city of Jerusalem].” But Isaiah ends that description with the words “O Immanuel,” a reminder that God is still with His people in the midst of all this trouble. (See Isaiah 8:8, 2 Nephi 18:8.) In the following verses, He reiterates this promise:

Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.

Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us [“Immanuel” in Hebrew].

Isaiah 8:9-10, 2 Nephi 18:9-10

The Greek transliteration of Immanuel is Emmanouél (Ἐμμανουήλ), so when Matthew quotes Isaiah’s prophecy after describing the visit of the angel to Joseph, it appears as “Emmanuel,” with the explanation that it means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

The Savior’s mortal ministry is a dramatic example of God being with us, but as Isaiah and the author of Psalm 46 taught us, God is also with each of us in our individual lives. Sister Sharon Eubank provided these words of comfort and encouragement:

I testify you are beloved. The Lord knows how hard you are trying. You are making progress. Keep going. He sees all your hidden sacrifices and counts them to your good and the good of those you love. Your work is not in vain. You are not alone. His very name, Emmanuel, means “God with us.” He is surely with you.

Christ: The Light That Shines in Darkness,” General Conference, April 2019

Today, I will take comfort in the knowledge that God is with me. Though waters may rage around me, I will be calm. I will be still. I will remember with confidence that He is the God we call Immanuel.

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