Two words from Psalm 46 have remained with me over the past week – “Be Still”. In order to focus more clearly on what God is saying – please note what he is not saying. He does not say be still and read your Bible – good though that may be. He does not say be still and pray – eminently desirable though that may be. He does not say be still so I can tell you what I want you to do – although we may long for such a revelation. He simply says – “Be still and know that I am God.”
Any command from God is important. Many of us however are so focused on the “doing” commands and the activity aspects of Christianity that it is the greatest of life’s battles to obey what God has commanded here. And it is for that reason I believe God will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to take us to the place of obedience and bring us to the place of stillness.
An old version of the Bible to which I turn to regularly – Young’s Literal Translation – translates Psalm 46:10 like this –
“Desist, and know that I [am] God …”
Desist – now there’s a word I remember from another life – a legal term meaning to stop doing something. It is as if we are fighting wildly against coming to the place where God has instructed us and are so rebellious he ultimately commands us – “desist” – “stop” – “give up your striving” – “be still”. And in that place with no distractions – no agenda, simply “Know that I am God”.
But why is it so important to come to the place of stillness. Of course there may be many reasons for us personally – but God informs us it is primarily and simply to contemplate him – in all his glory, grace and majesty. And then to consider the end of all things as it relates to him –
“I will be honoured by every nation.
I will be honoured throughout the world.”
Psalm 46:10 [NLT]
Some translations use the words – “I am honoured” – both of course are true. But why is this so important for us? I think that in the final analysis, when we are alone in the stillness with God, as one day we all will be, we need to know that he will have the final victory – and that ultimately his honour is in his own hands. Despite our fears and failures – despite the times we have let him down – despite that fact that perhaps we never felt that we achieved all we should have – despite the fact that we may not have “taken the nations” – the glory and renown are his and he will be honoured in every nation- despite what our nation and our world looks like right now! I know I needed to hear that this week – perhaps you do as well. And it is from the place of stillness we realise afresh, as the Psalmist did, that –
“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.”
Psalm 46:11 [NLT]