I never noticed it before. One of the most beautiful verses of the Bible, “Be still and know that I am God,” is recorded in a most unexpected place. Be still and know seems like it should be part of the lyrical peace of Psalm 23. After all, it’s easy to be still when we are resting besides still waters. But this verse is not placed in Psalm 23. Ironically the call to be still and know God is at the end of the struggle and trouble of Psalm 46.
For the Chief Musician. By the sons of Korah. According to Alamoth.*
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes, though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas; 3 though its waters roar and are troubled,
though the mountains tremble with their swelling.
4 There is a river, whose streams make glad the city of God. 5 God is within her. She shall not be moved. God will help her at dawn. 6 The nations raged. The kingdoms were moved. He lifted his voice and the earth melted. 7 Yahweh of Armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.
8 Come, see Yahweh’s works, what desolations he has made in the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth. He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear. He burns the chariots in the fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” 11 Yahweh of Armies is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.
God purposely places the call to be still and know Him in the middle of chaos, calamity, and the raging of nations. In fact it seems God wants us to understand there is a special knowing of His peace that comes in the middle of chaos and suffering.
During troubled times, God is with us
Reread Psalm 46 and take note of the conditions that are present while God is reassuring us of His care and presence:
- Though the mountains are shaken into the sea. Imagine this for a moment, amid the mountains quaking and falling, God is with us.
- Though its waters roar and are troubled. He who walks upon water promises raging waters will not over take us. Be still and know he is God.
- While nations rage and kingdoms fall. God lifts His voice and they melt away. He is our refuge, not our government, not our nation. God our refuge is with us.
Because of His presence we can face an unstable world. No matter how bad, how dark, how hopeless, God is with us. Emmanuel.
Be still, God is with us.
The Hebrew word for be still is rapa which means to relax, to drop, refrain, to be quiet. While the mountains shake we are to be still. While the waters roar, we are to be quiet. While the nations rage, we are to relax. Why? How?
Because God is with us, within us. Emanuel.
But from what are we to be still? If God commands us to be still, then it follows we must cease some type of activity. I reflected upon what I often find myself doing during times of trouble. Resting? Relaxing? Nope. How about worrying, complaining, indulging in vain imaginations and evil forebodings. Yep. Be still from these things and know He is God.
Be still, God is very much with us.
The writer if the psalm uses two words to describe the kind of help we can expect from God when we are in trouble. He is not just our present help; He is our very present help.
Very means muchness, greatly, exceedingly abundant. When we are in trouble and times are tough, God is greatly and abundantly with us. Present in the Hebrew, masa, means to be encountered. You will encounter Jesus in your present trouble because He is very present with you.
We can rest, wait, trust because our God who walks on water, who lifts His voice and melts the earth is very present with us.
Please let us know if you have experienced God’s presence during times of trouble. Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.
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By Mary Kane
siLent: Listening for God
Gregory Dickow: The Presence of God