God’s Tender Word to You: ‘Be Still’

Posted on January 31, 2019

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By David Ettinger

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A Soothing Word
There are several themes that course their way through the Bible. One is the theme of God’s sovereignty. Another is election, God’s choosing of those who will be His. Another is the call for God’s people to live holy and obedient lives.

Accompanying this last one is the theme of handling times of difficulty with composure and quiet faith. Put another way, God’s people should never fret. In the Old Testament, we see this in Psalm 23:4: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”; and Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” The prototype New Testament non-fret verse is Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Great verses, but my favorite is the brief but tender Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

The Background
Psalm 46 is a cry to God from Israel for His protection and an acknowledgement that He has indeed protected her. Israel is a small nation in size and population, surrounded by fierce and numerous enemies which have perpetually sought her destruction. But this will never happen, as verse 7 tells us: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Because of this, Israel can be still and know that God is with her.

Israel’s Solace is Your Solace
Though directed at Israel, this calming and consoling verse should bring you peace and encouragement. Just as Israel is surrounded by enemies, so are you. However, rather than the names of Iran, Iraq, and Syria, your enemies are named “temptation,” “illness,” “heartbreak,” “financial hardship,” and “family trials.”

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Yet, despite all you are going through, God tells you to “be still.” This term comes from the Hebrew “rfo,” which means to “weaken,” “loosen,” “relax,” “become limp,” or “desist.” It is God saying to you, “I know how difficult your situation is and I can see you are agitated and scared. Here’s what I want you to do: Climb into the safety of my palm, rest your head, and become completely limp. I will carry you, but you must be still. I want you to relax, desist from your worrying, and cheer up. I have everything well in hand.”

Not Blind Faith
In the phrase “Be still, and know that I am God,” note the word “know.” God is not telling you to make an abrupt detour in your feelings and blindly disregard your difficulties. He is not expecting you to say, “Okay, Lord, I already feel much better.” Instead, though He expects you to trust Him, He wants you to do so intelligently.

In Mark 12:30, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” However, He adds the word “mind,” making it: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (italic added). In other words, you are to trust God by faith, but also in knowledge; you know He is God, which includes all that being God entails.

What does it entail and why can you “be still” in God? Verse 1 says, “God is our refuge and strength.” Verse 6 reminds you of God’s awesome might: “… he lifts his voice, the earth melts.” Verse 9 is similar: “He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” And verse 7 is so reassuring, it is repeated in verse 11: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

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You can “be still” because God is your refuge; you can “hide” in Him knowing He is looking after you at all times. God is also infinite in power, so much so that the “earth melts,” meaning that if He were to speak from Heaven for the world to hear, the inhabitants of earth would scramble to conceal themselves. (That day is coming; see Revelation 6:15-17.) This same God is your protector. Nothing will happen to you outside of His permissive will. Regarding your soul, God is keeping careful watch over it. He is the fortress of your soul, an impenetrable Fortress!

How Still Are You?
For many of us, being “still” is a challenge. What about you? Are you a worrier? God would have you calm down, take a deep breath, and ask Him to ease your discomfort. Are you timid? God is telling you, “Don’t you know that I am fighting the battle for you? Don’t be afraid; I am your great strength. Be still.” Are you overly aggressive, always taking matters into your own hands? God wants you to stop maneuvering and manipulating, and surrender your predicament to Him. Once He sees that you are still, He will tell you how to proceed (which may mean doing nothing at all).

Regardless of how you are wired, the Lord does not want you fretting yourself into a frenzy. He wants you to be at peace (Isaiah 26:3), give all your anxieties to Him (1 Peter 5:7), and above all, to be still and know that He is God!

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