“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Ps 46:10 ESV)
This phrase “Be still, and know that I am God” is popular among Christians. It is worth a study. Avoid memorizing and meditating on a Bible phrase as a stand-alone phrase. Those who have done Inductive Bible Study, or Bible Study Methods, or Hermeneutics will understand the need for hard work of diligent study. An accurate interpretation of a Bible text will reap a harvest of righteousness and peace through obedient application.
The context shows that God (I am, I will, He) is addressing the Israelites (our, we, us). In the midst of desolation of the land and warfare, Israel, as God’s people, is commanded to stop worrying and to recognize God’s sovereignty. Psalm 46 shows that God is sovereign. His people ought to trust Him when their world is in turmoil:
Cosmos in crisis God is in control Response of God’s people
Vs 1-3 Creation is chaos Our refuge & strength We will not fear
Vs 4-7 City is threatened God will help the city The LORD of hosts is with us
Vs 8-11 Country is war-torn He makes wars cease Come, behold the works of God
Be still, and know that I am God
The two verbal commands, “be still” and “know,” address the Israelites who are in distress.
“Be still” does NOT mean clear or empty our cluttered minds so as to hear the voice of God. God speaks through His Word. “Be still” is our posture in the God as a fortress. “Be still” is our position that is established by Christ. We can meditate on God’s Word in silence or in a noisy coffee shop. We can meditate on God’s Word in solitude or in a crowded train station. God’s Word will clear our cluttered minds. By our prayers to God in the midst of confusion, the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
“Know” that God is in command and control of the cosmos in crisis. “Know” is the cognitive command. The focus is GOD, not ourselves. Know that we are secure and established in Christ by faith. Know that Christ is in us and with us. Know His past, present and future works. Know is to have experiential knowledge of God by loving obedience to His Word. “Know” is our progress in Christian maturity. We should not try to empty our minds as in Eastern meditation or in ancient Roman Catholic spiritual mysticism. This extra-biblical practice of finding inner light and “hearing” the voice of God has been revived in Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM). The Psalmist reminds us to meditate on the words and keep them (Psalm 1, 119). We are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16). We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
“Know that I am God” is the main command, “be still” serves as an adverb. Putting them together, they mean “calmly or quietly KNOW that I AM GOD.”
Do not to be restless and agitated. Wait patiently for the deliverance of God. In a complex and restless world, we find rest in Christ. Our focus is on God. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Elder Yoong Yuen Soo