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Being Still in Knowing God—Musings on Psalm 46

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Jenny opened the note left on her pillow by her husband. As she quickly opened it, her hands trembled. Their relationship had been strained of recent, frequent quarrels breaking out. The note revealed his intentions to leave her and their three children. He would be filing for divorce and had seized all their assets. His attorney would be in contact with her soon. Waves of emotion swept over her.  Questions flooded her mind: “What should I do? How will we survive? What could I have done to prevent this? How will this affect the children? Why does he hate me so much? Is there another woman?”  Jenny’s worst nightmare had become reality.

When chaos is breaking out all around you or your worst nightmare becomes reality, where do your thoughts turn? The Psalmist turns our active imaginations away from our circumstances and all that we fear and focuses our thoughts with the greatness of God.  Psalm 46, in relatively short fare, is a psalm of assurance and comfort.

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolation on the earth. 9He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Selah (ESV)

The Psalmist immediately gets our attention on the person of God. His name is Elohim, who made and controls all things (cf. Isaiah 40:26ff; 43; 1-7, 10-13). He is a God of power and strength, who is personal and desires relationship with His children. He is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” But note, the Psalms are always pointing to the person and work of Jesus Christ (see Luke 24:44-45). It is through Jesus that all things are made and sustained (Colossians 1:13-18). He controls all things for His glory and the joy of His chosen ones. It is through Him that we have relationship with God, and in Him we have confidence in times of personal storm. Though the earth is in chaos (vv. 2-3), Jesus Christ is always intervening in our behalf. He is coming to our aid—for His own glory. The creator God, Jesus Christ, made, sustains, and controls all things for His glory and for the joy of those He loves!

Christ is like a calm river making glad those who dwell with Him (v.4). This is all about relationship, which He provides. The “city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High” is where God dwells. He dwells in us by His Spirit, making us unmovable in times of storm (v. 5). Though the world rages around Him, He speaks and they totter and melt. He is sovereign and His power is without limitation, and He is with us (v. 6)! Look at all He has done and can do. Behold His works and wonders! He is God, our Champion, our Redeemer and Savior.  He is in complete control over all that we naturally fear (vv. 8-9). He is the powerful God (“LORD of hosts”) who is with us, and He is the personal God (“God of Jacob”) who is our fortress (v.7).

What is our response as we see God, in Jesus Christ, for all that He is? What is it that we do when we see Jesus, our Savior, the one living with us and in us, who controls all things for His glory and our joy? We get still. And in getting still we know Him even more. He is the God who will be exalted in all things, who rules all things for His glory. Cease striving; cease trying to control the uncontrollable. Be still and know God. That is what the Psalmist is calling us to do. We can be still because of who God is and what He has done is Christ.

Jenny, in the midst of her confusion, panic, and unrest, will meet Christ and see Him as her Husband, her sovereign Redeemer. She can begin to rest, still her anxious thoughts, and know that God will be faithful to her, even in the midst of the unfaithfulness of her husband. God is good, and Jenny, though deeply hurting and disappointed, will cease striving, settle the noise inside her, and focus her attention again on Christ—and know that He is God. 


Posted on March 2, 2011