Be still and know that I am God
Today, like most days, I took time to read up and reflect on some of the things going on in the world that interested me, with the view that I may later blog on what I find. But before I got far, the above text came to mind. It was as if that still small voice was telling me that rather than look out to what is going on, I look up to Him.
One saying from my youth was you can be “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”, which while true to an extent, truer is the thought if you are heavenly minded in the right way you can achieve a good deal of earthly good. It is easy to frustratingly flap around because of the unchecked wrong doings going on in the world and, while one seeks to do one’s bit (one reason why I blog), we do better putting our trust in God, doing what he tells us to do. This is as good as any reason to turn to the Psalms, given the Psalmist was often faced with difficult situations and found he needed to turn to God.
Before we get to our text, taken from one of the Psalms (46), we need to step back and imagine what it was that caused the Psalmist to come out with this profound statement that has comforted all sorts of folk for three millennia. One paraphrase of the opening is “God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake …” (1,2 MSG). Things weren’t looking good from an earthly perspective and future prospects looked bleak, but then there is God who is not indifferent to what is going on around us, but understood all and was always there to turn to, working His purposes out, a place “to hide”, ever ready to help, and being God Almighty and in control, He is more than willing and able to do so.
When we get to the “City of God” (v4) reference, this could well have been Jerusalem, which David made his capital and where the Tabernacle rested, to be replaced by the Temple under Solomon, his son. Jerusalem today is not what it was and one may well ponder where now is “river fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn” (4,5 MSG) while “godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says” (6)? To a degree, it is as well we don’t know, other than there is a place where God dwells and where we are heading and, whatever the wicked schemes of men happen to be, these cannot affect or disrupt where God chooses to make His city.
We then come to a text that is repeated at the end of the Psalm: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (7&11 KJV) or “Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us” (7&11 MSG). Why Jacob, one may ask. God was also the God of Abraham and other noteworthy characters who found favour with God. Maybe the answer is found in Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestled with God and would not let Him go until he got the blessing and hovering around were indeed the armies of God to protect him – the same God who wants to be with us and our refuge.
The Psalmist closes and while it is but a paraphrase, these words we do well to take to heart “Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything” (8-10 MSG). That He looks after the earth, even when we don’t, is what God promised to Noah He would do following the Flood (Genesis 8:22). While the political position worldwide looks dire, God is in control. While banning wars and breaking weapons is not something we have seen too much of between when the Psalm was written and now, it is something we can look forward to in the future, which brings us back to our text …
“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth”. Memorise these words because they are God’s words and apply to where we are at right now, and take them to heart. For me, two key phrases here are “be still” which is not something we do enough of in the hurly burly of life, and “know that“, which goes beyond mere hoping but rather, as far as God is concerned, full assurance that He is someone we can rely on. God is being mocked, and increasingly so. Be rest assured, however, that He will have the final word and He will be exalted.