Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10, NKJV)
This is the closing instruction the Psalmist gives in the 46th division of Israel’s song book. It was to be remembered and recited as they worshipped Jehovah in the Temple. Perhaps it was read during times when the nation was threatened by foreign nations. It could even be cited as kings prepared to bring a somber message or bad news to their subjects.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters be therefore roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah
With the latest mass shooting in Kansas City after the Chief’s Super Bowl parade, we ask ourselves the question, “Lord, when will the madness stop?” It seems as if evil is on every hand—locally, nationally, and without a doubt internationally. We may even ask, “is God in control?”
Psalm 46 answers those questions in its final verses. Yes, God is still in control. And in response to the problems we face, we are to “be still and know” who God is and His ability to address the issue at hand. To know (yada) means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting, and (2) to know by experiencing. It is to have an intimate knowledge of Him.
As we reflect on our lives, where have we seen God at work? When has God come to our rescue or given us the strength to endure trying times? Have there been situations where we realized that God had gone before us to make a way out of no way (Psa. 50:15)? God is awesome and available and much, much, more.
A Mighty Refuge
As I process the trauma of the senseless shooting, this time, in “my city”, I recall the words from the powerful hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, which is said to be a paraphrase of Psalm 46.
A mighty Fortress is our God
A Bulwark never failing
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing
The concept of fortress appears numerous times throughout the Bible, often carrying deep symbolic meaning beyond just a stronghold or place of defense (Psa. 18:2; 62:6-8). Fortress is most often used metaphorically to represent God as a source of refuge, protection, and salvation for His people. These verses portray God as an unshakable fortress or tower that provides safety and security for those who trust in Him.
This thought continues with the Psalmist’s use of the word, bulwark. A bulwark is a wall meant to provide protection. “Mortal ills” are human sins we must deal with while operating in our “human flesh”. These often result in negative outcomes in our personal life and in society.
Words to Remember
Jesus in His final moments with His Disciples presented a “sobering expectation” of their future: “In this life you will have tribulations.” That message is still true for us in the 21st century. But Jesus adds the “blessed reality and result” of our relationship with Him. “Be of good cheer (take courage), I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In other words, Jesus’ victory over death and sin by way of the Cross, would be the same victory we would experience as we encountered life’s trials—individually or collectively. Victory includes our ability to persevere and to succeed regardless of the circumstances we may experience (Eph. 1: 18-19).
As we navigate tragedies and misfortunes, we must remember that we live in a fallen world. And while we have been delivered from the penalty and power of sin, we must still expect and deal with the consequences of its presence. Our knowledge of God assures us that His presence will go with us (Deut. 31:8), His power will protect us (2 Thess. 3:3), and His peace will sustain us (John 14:26-27). Therefore, we can be still (relax).