One of the most beautiful of the psalms is Psalm 46. It is attributed to the sons of Korah, and it extols God as “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1). This psalm encouraged Israel to not lose heart as they faced various challenges because God is always with His people to care for them and to provide for them in every situation.
In v. 8 the psalmist invited Israel to “behold the works of the Lord, who has wrought desolations in the earth”. Then, in v. 9 he says, “He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.” In other words, Israel’s dependence upon God was well founded. He had more than adequately demonstrated His power, and they could therefore be confident no matter what might come.
In v. 10 the psalmist spoke for God and said, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth” (NASB). Most of the other English translations say, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Both renditions are accurate, but we are generally more familiar with the latter. This simple statement, however, is the key to the power of this psalm.
How often have God’s people today missed out on the refuge and strength of God because they refused to be still and acknowledge Him as God? This loss can be attributed, at least in part, to the fact that modern society has become averse to quietness. It seems we cannot go anywhere without our ears being bombarded with the cacophony of the modern world. Our culture has become one of incessant noise of various kinds and silence makes people uncomfortable, even in worship.
Our worship assemblies are highly structured, even those that give the appearance of informality and spontaneity. Something is supposed to be going on at all times, and the absence of sound means that something is wrong. Silence in the assembly for more than a few seconds puts worshipers on edge. The discomfort is palpable. Nevertheless, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” How much more fulfilling might our worship be if we took more time in quiet reflection as we worshiped? How much more prepared to face the challenges of life might we be if we followed God’s command?
The command to be still, however, is not limited to our worship assemblies. In fact, Psa. 46 actually speaks more to our day to day affairs than to our worship. This is where it gets tricky for us. We scurry about each day like a hamster in a wheel, immersed in the noise and chaos of life, and we wonder why we feel overwhelmed by it all. Perhaps if we took more time to be still, and to reflect on who our God is, we would find the fortitude and peace to successfully navigate our way through life.
Just being quiet, of course, is not the answer. God said to be still AND know that He is God. Our quiet time should be time when we reflect on God and on His word. It should be time when we approach Him in prayer or just quietly meditate on some truth from the scriptures. The point is that the refuge and strength we all need to face life is there, if we are willing to take advantage of it. But, we need to be quiet in order to access it. So then, let’s turn off the volume of life and sit quietly before the Lord. Let’s turn of the TV, the computer, our cell phones, and our game devices, and be still so we can see and hear the God who is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.