Home Psalms To be still and to know – Psalms 46:10

To be still and to know – Psalms 46:10

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By Pr Isaiah White

Whenever we are in problems and a pastor or a fellow Christian prays and talks to us, it is likely that the phrase ‘Be Still and trust in the Lord’ will not miss in the conversation.

Have we, however, ever asked ourselves where these words are derived from and what they mean?

Psalms 46:1-11

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

Background

The phrase “Be still and know that I am God” is derived directly from the word of God in Psalms 46:10.  Psalms 46 is about Zion, the city of God as it was known in Bible times.

The Bible reports about several cities, but the predominant ones are Jerusalem and Zion. Jerusalem was known as the city where the Temple of the Lord was built. This meant that the presence of the Lord was constantly in Jerusalem since the Temple in which the Ark of the Covenant and the Shekinah (glory of God) was located there.

Zion, on the other hand, was the city of the Monarchical seat that King David built; it was the City of the central theocratic government of the people of God.

Psalms 46 was sung not only to Jerusalem but Zion and all other civil and legislative services of the people of God. This chapter, therefore, is for a nation (not just an individual) at stake and communication fundamentally is to present who is in charge, despite who is in power.

Be Still

Psalms 46 is addressed to the political heads in Zion who were facing challenges from enemy states and in response, they launched a fight and held military tactic meetings to counter the enemy. That is the contextual background of the Psalm.

Verses 8, 9, and 11 reference some aspect of war and fighting which was an activity of the authorities in Zion as a response to their challenge.

‘Be still’ is not a ‘calm down and trust in the Lord’ approach, but a divine authoritative imperative to the powers in Zion to “stop fighting”.

‘Be still’ was the same command that God gave to the storm that was fighting and threatening the disciples in the boat, according to Mark 4:35-41. He was not calming down the storm, but ordaining it to stop.

When God says ‘Be still’, He is not asking us to calm down but it is a divine imperative to stop fighting. To continue fighting beyond that imperative is to fight against God Himself.

Know that I am God

When we continue taking matters in our own hands, it is a sign we have not recognized that God is the God above all situations. Not acknowledging God for who He is, is not just blasphemous but also idolatrous.

To know God is another important imperative we are given in times of trouble and all times as well. The Bible says: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6 NKJ).

To know everything but God is the epitome of ignorance. We are called to know God as our saviour and Lord. For eternal life is in the knowledge of this God (John 17:3).

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