Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
What does it mean to be still? Are most of us still long enough to know that the LORD is God? I am going to explore that today. First, we will look at the word still. It is in Hebrew, raphah pronounced raw-faw and meaning, slacken, fail, cease, be slothful, faint, weaken, and be idle. It is used in various passages to mean, to sink down, drop, relax, abate or withdraw (Strong's, 2014). Many of those definitions and usages have negative connotations especially for Americans who are all about the go-getter attitude and would find it difficult to believe that God say, ‘be slothful,’ ‘be idle,’ or ‘be weak and know that I am God.’
Not only do I think many of us would have a difficult time accepting this commandment, we have a hard time achieving stillness. What does stillness help us accomplish? Well, looking at this verse, it allows us to know that the LORD is God and gives Him glory all over the earth. How is it that our stillness can glorify the Lord? Putting the verse back into context we can read the entire Psalm. Psalm 46 reads,
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
I get a picture of a world in turmoil, storms ravage, earthquakes devastate, and wars rage yet we sit calmly within the walls of a fortress and nothing outside that refuge can hurt us. It is God who stops the wars, unrest, and tumult. Our stillness makes it so that people can “behold the works of the Lord.” They can’t give us credit, we were calm, weak, and still within His shelter. Let’s look at more passages which urge us to be still.
Psalm 37:5-9 reads,
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
It takes trust and patience on our part to be still. Circumstances don’t always look like they are going to work out for our benefit or for God’s glory. Sometimes the bad guy gets away with his crimes for a little while. Sometimes it is hard to do the right thing, especially when doing the wrong thing might get you a profit. But the Lord urges us to be trust Him, be patient and be still before Him. He said not to get angry or worry about the evildoer’s prosperity. He will deal with them. Remember, the Day of Judgement is coming and no one will escape being judged and either facing God’s wrath or God’s grace (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Let me ask a question and I want you to be completely honest with yourself, do you really trust God? If you have a need, do you trust the Lord to meet it or do you worry about how your need will be met? If the rent is late and the eviction notice has been delivered and you have three days to come up with the money before you and your family are on the street, are you trusting God or freaking out? Are you in peace because you know God will take care of you, regardless or are you trying to find someone to loan you a couple of thousand dollars to save you and your family from homelessness? Faith is more than a feeling, it is demonstrated by our actions. Faith is proven and revealed by our actions and demeanor. Moses trusted God enough to let Him be God and be glorified.
As the Israelites were fleeing the Egyptians, they were terrified. They were certain they were about to die and cried out that they would prefer to go back to slavery than face the Egyptian army when caught up to them. But in Exodus 14:13-14 Moses said,
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Then God told Moses to raise up his staff and divide the Red Sea. Stop a moment and think about that. An army was chasing him and the people he had promised to lead out of slavery and into freedom and God said, “Stop, lift up your staff, stretch out your arms and divide the Red Sea.” Does that make sense? Wouldn’t it have been more logical to stop and make weapons or run and hide? But Moses had faith and demonstrated it by obeying God. He lifted up his staff, stretched out his arms and God divided the sea. Every Israelite made it safely through the sea and didn’t even get wet. Every person in the Egyptian army drowned (Exodus 14:15-39).
God was with them. He went with them through the sea and He was with them in the morning as they watched the Egyptian army die. He stayed with them as they wandered through the wilderness for the next forty years. He fed them, He kept their clothes and shoes wearable. Believer, He is with you too. Cherished, He has promised that He will never leave you, nor forsake you(Deuteronomy 3:16). His is your God and you are His people (Leviticus 26:12). You are His temple and He indwells you (1 Corinthians 3:16). You are in His presence and commanded to be still. Habakkuk 2:20 reads,
But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him.
Are you in trouble? Are you going through tribulations? In John 16:33, Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 107:28-32 says,
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
Jesus lived that out for His disciples and for us in Mark 4:35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Are we extolling Him in the congregation or are we extolling ourselves because perhaps, we chose not to cry out to Him in our distress and tried to fix the problem ourselves? Sometimes what we do fixes the problem, but How God does it, is so much better. Being still may feel like doing nothing, but it is not. It is crying out to God and having the faith to let Him be God, to let Him answer and be glorified.