Psalm 46:1 – “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” NKJV
Now, before we delve into this and attempt to answer the question I suggest we go back and consider the first three verses, “God is our refuge and strength…” Can you wrap your head around that? If you can then you fully embrace the next portion of the first verse, “…a present help in trouble.” So, God IS my refuge (place to run for shelter and protection) and strength (power to overcome) which makes Him a present (now) help in time of trouble. That is amazing and should give such comfort that verse two is a natural result, and it is when we grasp, embrace, and believe verse one. “Therefore we will not fear, EVEN THOUGH…” It is in the “even though” that we realize His strength, power and how wonderful our refuge is. Then when we skip down to our text verse we read the directive of the LORD in the midst of life’s struggles, BE STILL, and KNOW…
The word is “cease striving” and I like the margin in the NASB, “Let go, relax, I’M GOD!” The heart and mind struggle to not allow the emotions to run amok but the directive is to BE STILL and KNOW… The idea is to come to “stillness” and in that stillness, we will “know”. Know what? THAT GOD IS GOD! The directive is for us to quiet the riotous emotions raging inside in the midst of trouble and BE STILL, relax, cease from striving and KNOW. This is an “inner stillness” and I am not talking about transcendental meditation, yoga or any mystical effort to achieve this. I am talking about reaching a place where you refuse to allow your raging emotions to have the upper hand, you quiet your inner man and learn to hear that “still small voice” that can only be heard in STILLNESS.
The Psalm makes it clear that something terrible is taking place in the life of the Psalmist. The entire face of the earth appears to be changing, mountains are trembling and sliding past him into the sea which suggests a gigantic earthquake and in the midst of that God says, “Relax, I’ve got this!” That’s the idea. In the midst of the turmoil of life when confusion is the easy road, fear is the natural response, and everything you know is being shaken, God says, “BE STILL, cease striving, relax and KNOW that I AM GOD!” That’s the command and our objective but how do we get there?
If we view this and examine it in light of the full context (the entire Bible) we might just see something we have overlooked. As I often do when I read passages in the Bible I ask myself, “What did the Hebrew understand when he read this?” That is a wonderful place to begin because too often we read the Bible with our Western mentality and fail to grasp what the words meant to those in that day and misapply or misinterpret the meaning. I was asked once, “What did the Hebrew understand when he thought of God?” What image came to his mind? We know that God has many titles ascribed to Him in Scripture and that our LORD reveals Himself and His character to man by giving us a name that explains Him. In the Bible, a name reflected the character and thus we had name changes when the character changed. Names in the Bible meant something not just the handle by which we respond when called.
Have you ever meditated on the question of Moses to God, when he was being sent to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage? Moses said, “I know You Are God, but WHO shall, I say sent me?” What? Moses, you just said, “I know you are God, but…” Where did that come from? Moses was asking, “What character quality shall I tell them has sent me.” What attribute of yours am I basing my authority on? God then says, “My name is I AM, THAT I AM…” God is called the Almighty, and the Most High God as well as many others names. Each title or name described a character quality that the people could understand, identify with, and embrace. The list of names is almost endless but there is one name the Hebrews embraced that summed up all the other names and a favorite of theirs. They loved to declare that God was THE LIVING GOD! They hurled that at their enemies and was used by David when he faced Goliath and Daniel declared it in the Lion’s Den.
But, when they said that God was THE LIVING GOD they were not simply saying He is alive. Heavens no, they knew and believed he was alive but they were declaring that He is the GOD WHO IS LIFE. That’s it, He is Life! That brought fear to the hearts of their enemies because most cultures believed that gods were localized and if you could get past this or that god’s village or domain you were safe. But, the Hebrews declared their God THE LIVING GOD and there is no escape from the God of All Life. He is there all the time! He is ALIVE, Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and Omniscient.
This Infinite Spirit (God) was real and they believed they could talk to Him like they would to each other. The Bible records they talked about God as laughing, sighing, and even blowing his nose (Hebrews 3). To them, God danced before them (Zephaniah), sang to them, “The Lord thy God, in the midst of thee, is mighty. He rejoices over you with singing.” He wept over them. They saw Him as LIVING and the Giver of Life. This God, the Living God, talked to them. A concept that is foreign to many in Christianity today but quite biblical. He is the speaking God as is revealed in Genesis, “and God said…” God was to them the Infinite Communicator and if He said, BE STILL they knew He was going to speak but speak ever so softly that His voice would not be heard in riotous emotional outbursts but in INNER STILLNESS.
We still have not addressed the question but hopefully, we have laid a foundation upon which to build and achieve the desired result. God bless you as you continue your journey today in Him!