The Point Behind “Be Still and Know”

Carl McColman | 9/20/2019 | Staff
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One of the most popular verses in the Bible is Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” You can go into a Christian gift shop and find paperweights, wall plaques, t-shirts, and various other types of merchandise that prominently feature this verse.

But what does it mean?

Verse - God - Voice - God - Proclamation

Obviously, the verse speaks to us in God’s voice: “know that I am God.” It is a proclamation that God exists, and that God can be known. Especially in our age of profound cynicism, skepticism, and nihilism, this is a bold statement indeed. Even people of faith sometimes find it difficult to truly know God. We know about God, but do we actually know God? J.I. Packer’s classic bestseller, Knowing God, sold over a million copies because it addresses this very question: knowing about God is not enough, we are called to know God, directly, intimately, incarnationally.

Back to Psalm 46: the Psalmist suggests that one way, perhaps the best or most efficient way, to know that I am God is simply by being still.

God - Fidgeting

Surely, to know God requires more than just to stop fidgeting.

When we place Psalm 46:10 in context, we realize that it’s at the end of a Psalm filled with martial imagery (remember, this was the Psalm that inspired Martin Luther to write A Mighty Fortress Is Our God). God is our refuge and strength when kingdoms fall and the nations are in an uproar. Waters may roar and mountains may shake, but we need not fear for God is our present help.

Psalm - Pivots - Psalmist - Points - God

But then the Psalm pivots and the psalmist points out not only that God is our “mighty fortress,” but that God “makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire” (Verse 9)....
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