Language is a funny thing, isn’t it? Especially English. One word can have so many meanings, and the various meanings can really impact how we read and interpret something.
This is true in a verse that many of us are familiar with – a verse that has taken on special meaning in my life lately as we see all the uncertainty, unrest, and upheaval in the world around us.
Psalm 46:10-11 – “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
If you’re like me, you’ve often read the word “still” and thought of the absence of movement. While that certainly is one definition of still, there are a few others that have completely revolutionized the way I view this verse.
Calm. Tranquil. Peaceful. Soothed. Look at the rich layers that are added when you substitute one of those words for still!
Now, I’m not a Hebrew scholar and have no idea what Hebrew word was originally used for this verse, nor do I know the precise meaning that was intended in the original text. Yet, I think we can easily (and safely!) read this verse with one of the above words and still maintain the integrity and idea of the verse.
Certainly, there are times when we should be physically still (absent of movement) before the Lord. Often, this helps us focus on Him better and listen for His voice.
But there are other times when we really need to calm our minds.
God exhorts us to be still, calm, tranquil, peaceful, and soothed. Why? Because He is God! In the midst of a deadly global pandemic, in the midst of increasing racial tensions and civil unrest, in the midst of injustice, in the midst of political drama – He is still God. He is exalted among the nations because He is great. His glory is on display in creation throughout the world. Nothing can thwart His plans or purposes.
In verse 11, we see the psalmist’s response to being still and focusing on God: he recognizes that God is with him, that God alone is His fortress (safety & shelter). In being still, he finds hope and security.
If you’re feeling burdened or anxious today because of all the things going on in the world, know that you aren’t alone. We’ve all been there. But also know that if you will release those worries to God, who is big enough and strong enough to handle situations that you and I can’t touch, you can have peace.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1.