Psalm 46 is a poem that inspires sweet confidence in the Lord. David writes about a city. That city is a good city with strong walls and a river watering it. He clearly is depicting the people of God, connecting them with the city of Jerusalem.
But, the city is threatened. It looks like armies are surrounding the city. They are crashing against the walls. Their campfires are dotting the fields at night. The people inside the city must be afraid. There is danger. How will they survive? How can they fight such a battle.
Then the Lord speaks. Interestingly, in his speaking, we do not know for sure whether the Lord is speaking only to the people inside the city, or if he is including the people outside the city.
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
God says to be still. Many have said that this is a phrase that means to stop fighting, to cease striving. Instead of fighting, people are to know that he is God.
Now, if that was spoken to the armies outside the city walls, that phrase is a powerful command. Put down your weapons. Stand aside. Do not think for a moment you can take this city. God is not going to let you. He is God. You cannot beat him.
If, however, God is speaking to those inside the city, the words are sweet words of comfort. Don’t fret. Don’t think you have to fight this battle. God is God. He is on his throne. He will not be moved. He will not be defeated. The Lord of hosts, the God over all the heavenly armies, is with you, your mighty fortress. You will not be ultimately defeated.
Either way, this gives us so much hope. The church lives in a world of opposition. The polarization between the church and the community is growing stronger and stronger day by day. The laws of the land in America are turning against the freedom of Christians to believe the Bible and to live according to its principles. The hostility of skeptics and atheists and special interest groups is ramping up at a dramatic pace.
Yet, the Lord says to be still and know he is God. Be still, stop fighting. That does not mean to give up or give ground. But it certainly means to not fret. We are not to sit around and gripe and complain about how dreadful the world is. God is God. He has the battle. He will be victorious. No nation will defeat him. No people will overcome the Lord. Kings and governments have tried to destroy the plan of God forever. Just think of how many have tried: Satan in the garden, Pharaoh in Egypt, Assyria multiple times, Babylon, Haman in Persia, Syria under Antiochus IV, Rome under Titus, and that just takes us through the 1st century A.D. How many other governments have tried to put Christianity away? But the Lord has never given and will never give his church over to ultimate defeat. That, by the way, is the major point in the book of Revelation. Things may get bad, really bad, but the Lord will not ever lose.
So, we learn to be still. We stop. We breathe. We rest. We trust. We remember the promises of God. Yes, we keep serving. Yes, we keep working. Yes, we keep sharing the gospel. Yes, we keep discipling our children. Yes, we keep loving God and each other. And, yes, the world keeps being hard to live in. But, ultimately, we remember that the Lord, he is God. He is over all. He will be victorious. So, we be still, and we know that he is God.