John Casteel, Senior Pastor of The Bridge in South Carolina and former pastor of mine, points out that “be still” is the same thing that Jesus says to the wind and the waves in Mark 4:39. The wind and the sea completely died down in silence, in awe and worship of the Creator. Casteel continues,
“There is a silence and stillness that should overtake us in the presence of someone that is so overwhelmingly holy and glorious. The call to all is to be still before our holy, awesome, and glorious God.”
To summarize Casteel, as more knowledge and worship flow out of the city Zion—that is God’s message shared with the world—the more people will come to know him and understand his ultimate security and enjoy his presence. God’s goal in being with his people is so they can accomplish his purpose, to spread knowledge of him so more and more people can come to know him.
The people of God must stop what they are doing and acknowledge that God alone is the sovereign ruler of the universe and commit to following him. He will one day stop all wars and he will be exalted among the nations (the Gentiles and Jewish believers as one family, the Church) and all the earth. There will be no question of who God is and what he is doing.
At God’s voice the earth melts, the enemies cease fighting, and the people of God remember who their God is. God commands stillness and silence, but why is this important for the people of God? The people of God were prone to fear; they needed to remember who their God is. We don’t need to fear the end of our life—even in the midst of battle—because we’re going to that city; we’re going to Zion one day. We will dwell with God and there will be no more wars, no pain, and no end (See Rev. 21). We don’t need to fear what the world can do; we need to remember who our God is and we need to share that knowledge with others.
So, there’s nothing wrong with the translation “Be still” in Psalm 46:10 vs. “Stop fighting” or “Cease striving,” and there’s certainly nothing wrong with believers taking time to be still and quiet before the Lord in prayer. That’s something Christians should do every day, and we have Jesus as our example for that in Luke 5. But is the quiet, meditative interpretation of “be still” the best interpretation for Psalm 46:10 based on the context of the psalm as a whole? Maybe not, as it may take away from the intensity of the psalm—the way that God can command the earth and everything in it to be still before him and it is. But here’s what we need to remember about the application of this verse and the different views.
Regardless of whether we interpret the “be still,” “cease striving,” or “stop” phrase of Psalm 46:10 to be God’s words toward the enemies of the people of God, his people, or both groups, there is great comfort in this psalm that extends past one verse. We should find immense comfort in the fact that our God is an impenetrable refuge, that he will bring glory to his name among the nations and all the earth, and that he will protect his people and bring them to everlasting peace. But God does call us to stop fearing, to be still and commit to him. In order to feel secure, we have to know that we have an impenetrable home with God. Casteel reminds us,
“In order to find security in God, we have to stop finding security in everything else. …Nothing in this world will offer you the security you have in God.”
May stand-alone verses that we see on graphics or read in posts, like Psalm 46:10, always inspire us to read more of God’s Word. When we see the same verses in the future we will remember the deeper context of the passage and be thankful for who God is in our lives and the incredible things he is doing. And we get to be a part of it! Our amazing God, who is so far above us, allows us and encourages us to carry out his purpose with him. If we take away nothing else from this psalm, let us remember the call to spread God’s Word so that others may find the same security we have.
“…My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered from time to time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast. Could we not almost say that this shattering is one of the marks of His presence?” –C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
God will make sure his glory is known. His Word reminds us who he is and calls us to worship in awe. Be still and remember who God is, be still and stop fearing, be still and see what God is doing, be still and acknowledge his greatness, be still and know God is with you…now spread the knowledge of who he is!