Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Praying my way through the Psalms I came across this well-known verse. It’s often viewed as an encouragement to inner serenity. Or it is a spiritual posture to take in the Presence of God. If applications are made along those lines I certainly don’t wan to take that away from anyone. To seek God’s peace, to balance one’s inner storm before Him as we spend time in His Presence is a wonderful thing. In fact, one of the main objectives in prayer may well be to do just that. And yet, while Psalm 46 doesn’t say less than that, it also says more.
Be still and know that I am God serves as a conclusion to the entire Psalm. The lead up tells us a lot about. God is a present help in trouble verse 1 tells us. The earth will feel like it’s giving way (v 2), the sea is stormy and the mountains are trembling (v 2-3). Nations are raging and kingdoms are in tumult (v 6). The world seems as though it is chaotic and the circumstances of God’s People, from their perspective, don’t look cheery. It is into this reality that the command to be still comes.
Why this matters is that it is saying something much larger than finding inner peace in prayer time. It is that in times of great upheaval, we must never forget that God is God, and we are not to be moved. God’s People (both Old Testament Jews and New Testament Christians) have faced the tumult of their times. As Christians today, we face shifts in the our culture and troubles in the world.
When we read the news from North America we’re told from many sources:
That our culture is getting less faithful all the time. (this is very Western centric but I’ll let that slide for now).
That our children won’t follow in our faith once they hit university.
That the world is getting worse and worse.
That Christianity is going to die unless it changes certain moral beliefs or gets “relevant”.
And so on…
But it is in face of all that, that God’s People are told to be still. Be still and stay put, stay faithful to God’s great work no matter what this decade brings, or that century. “The Church must learn to think in centuries” it has been said, and that is a good maxim. God is a in control over all history and not on e of His promises will fail. That’s what is meant by the command to know that I am God.
To be still is to not be moved from the faith once delivered to the saints. Decades come and decades go, centuries also come and go. Public opinion goes this way, public opinion goes that way. It may seem to the faithful that the world is shaking and rocking but we’re told to be still and know that I am God. To stay where we are in terms of faithful witness and not forget that God is in control.