Isn’t this how we are actually able to “keep calm and carry on?”
Read Psalm 46
I want to invite you to mark up Psalm 46 in your Bible. Circle or underline all the active words describing God and all He does for us.
This sets the context for the verse we will focus on today:
“Be Still and Know that I am God.”
Another well know, often quoted verse. One of my favorites, though I don’t always live it out very well.
I am not all that good at being still. I am energetic & active and my mind is usually racing or deliberating, thinking, pondering. I have a fridge magnet that says “I need a closet organizer just for my thoughts!”
- What does it mean to Be Still?
- When you hear these words what comes to mind?
Does this mean ok, I believe it, or I know it is a fact like 2 + 2= 4? Or something deeper, more nuanced?
- How would you define “and Know?”
“That I Am God”
That is pretty straightforward- not much room for debate.
God is God. (not me, though I try to play God at times, not the people whose influence I allow to be greater than God’s, those I try to please, or measure myself by, and not all the other idols I set up in God’s place.)
Deuteronomy 6:4 is a cornerstone verse for the people of God: “Hear O Israel, The Lord is our God, the Lord is One.” Moses proclaims this to the Israelites as he leads them out of Egypt; defining their as different and unique from all the gods the other nations worshiped.
Exodus 3:14, “ I AM WHO I AM” is has God’s answer to Moses’ question of “whom shall I say sent me, to lead the people out of Egypt. This is rendered YHWH in Hebrew and is God’s sacred name.
Clear, complete, indisputable truth:
“I Am God.”
That is the starting point.
So working backwards, we still have to look at and gain a greater understanding of the
Be Still – and Know parts of this verse.
Simple Words. Declarative commands. But what do they really mean for you and me in the midst of life today?
Be Still- (raphah)- abandon, become helpless , cease, relax, wait, sink, let go, let drop, refrain, desist
- What image do these words provoke?
This verb is in the imperative tense- it is a command, not a suggestion or guideline! It is imperative to our life!
- What is required for a kind of stillness that ceases, relaxes and lets go?
- What are we to be still from?
The context of this verse impacts the translation: Psalm 46 is titled: God is our fortress. It was written when the people of Israel were being attacked by the nations with whom they had treaties.
Today the “attacks of nations” would be: another day of hassles, fights, lost library books, sickness, snow, cancelled school, snarled traffic, jobs difficulties, betrayal, disappointment, unrest, discouragement…
- Look at the action words you highlighted earlier.
This Psalm is about who God isand our choice to live the mess of life and all its challenges, with great confidence in Him, trusting Him to act on our behalf, and be the fortress that protects us from any enemy forces.
God is our Strength and refuge.
So we don’t have to be!
Because of who God is, we are commanded to “Be still” or cease striving, let our hands drop all we do to make our lives work, desist from trying control things, worry, fear, and self-reliance.
We are also commanded: “and KNOW that I am God”
- Know- (yada)- know with certainty, know assuredly, make yourself know (this implies a choice or act of willful assent), recognize, take notice, understand, discern
- So there is something profoundly connected, vulnerable, familiar, a sense of interaction- of know and being known yada is also translated as “had relations” in The Old Testament depicting the intimate sexual relationship between a man and wife.
It makes me think that we are “to know so deeply and fully” that this truth becomes part of us. And because of that… we can actually Be Still.
These are just some ways that I try to dig deeper and understand the Scriptures. It is like a treasure hunt. I want to know what they mean and how they are relevant and applicable to my life… to your life.
- As you reflect on these words and string them together, how do they impact you?
- How do you live out “Be Still and Know, that I Am God?”
- Where do you resist and what does that look like?
- Can you take these simple words and expand them to an “amplified, personal version” of this verse?
Listen to Stephen Curtis Chapman’s song “Be Still and Know”
Read: 2 Chronicles 13:12; 2Chronicles 20 for context.
Psalm 46 is about the difficulties Israel was facing; written during the time when Jehoshaphat was King of Israel,
The people of God were being attacked on every side. The Moabites and Ammonites were attacking, even though when the children of Israel came from Egypt, they did not attack these countries. Just like us they were in the midst of difficulties, fears , discouragement, confusion, questions about why this was happening,
God spoke to Israel and said: Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, Go out and face them tomorrow- stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will bring. The Lord told Jehoshaphat to sing praises to Him instead of fight.
Jehoshaphat had the warriors SING: “give thanks to the LORD for His love endures forever.”
The Lord set up ambushes where the Moabites and Ammonites fought and killed each other.
Psalm 46:5 God is in her midst (the city, His people) she shall not be moved.
His presence is in our midst and this truth underscores the command of Psalm 46:10
Read Psalm 46 again.
- How does knowing the context enrich and expand the meaning of the Psalm.
- How does this relate to your life today?
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12; Psalm 46; John 5:1-6
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about ½ hour a day)
Read on Day 28: Romans 9-end