Be Still and Know (Psalm 46:10)


We live in a complex and trouble-filled world, where we often find ourselves faced with threatening problems far beyond our control. These gathering storms can suddenly break upon our lives and make it impossible for us to escape. They are beyond our ability to resolve and, consequently, bring us to our knees. God then steps onto the scene and rescues us from our hour of crisis. Surely, you can relate to times like this in your life. 

After such a deliverance, how are we to respond? 

According to Psalm 46, we must pause and reflect upon what He has done. We must look back and marvel at His salvation. In a new and more profound way, we must consider who God is and how this truth spreading can affect the world. 

This is exactly how God counseled His ancient people. After He defeated their enemies and spared their lives, He called to them, saying,  “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Verse 10). In this verse, God Himself is the Speaker. He personally summons them to contemplate who He is—and how His mighty acts will be made known to the world.  

As previously discussed, this was a time when foreign armies had surrounded the holy city of Jerusalem. They had threatened the future of the people of God. But God dramatically intervened. He burned the chariots of these foes, broke their bows, and cut their spears—granting His people a decisive victory. 

After this triumph, God calls upon them to know—now more than ever—that He will be exalted over all the nations of the earth. 

“Cease Striving”

With an emphatic voice, God says, “Cease striving.” The word “striving” is not in the original text. God simply says “cease.” This verb literally means “to sink.” It pictures the idea of a person sinking down into a chair in order to relax. In this reclining posture, an individual would settle down and rest. He would relax and enjoy peace and calm. 

This divine declaration—“Cease”—is issued as an imperative. That is, God commanded His ancient people to reflect upon their recent deliverance. As their Sovereign, He issued this mandate to cease. They should settle down and rest in His protective care. They should carefully consider the full impact of what He has just done for them. 

What has troubled you recently? What has caused your heart to despair? Have you seen God deliver you out of your ordeal?  Have you seen Him reverse your setback and bring you through it? 

If so, God says, “Cease striving.” In other words, stop and ponder what God has done for you. Do not let this time pass without giving careful thought to your deliverance out of such trouble. 

“And Know That I Am God”

God further spoke, exclaiming, “and know that I am God.” The word “and” connects these two ideas together. This is yet again another imperative. The first command is stated in the negative, followed by this positive directive. The order is important. If they will cease striving, they will know that God is God in all that this encompasses. 

They needed to cease and know that God is upon His throne. They need to know that God has a sovereign plan and purpose for them. They need to know that He will work everything together for their good. They need to know that there is no panic in heaven. They need to know that God has everything under control.

The most important knowledge that anyone can possess is this knowledge of God. All other knowledge is of far lesser importance, a far distant second. The knowledge of God is far greater—it is supreme. All other knowledge is peripheral. The knowledge of God is primary. This means far more than to know that He exists. We must know that God actively rules over all places and people with inscrutable wisdom and irresistible power.

“I Will Be Exalted Among The Nations”

God then declares the result of this overwhelming victory: “I will be exalted among the nations.” This bold statement testifies what will be the result of His devastating defeat of these foreign powers. When the report of this massacre reaches their native land, the name of God “will be exalted.”  The God of Israel will be acknowledged as the mighty Warrior over all their armies. 

In no uncertain terms, God announces that He will be exalted over all the nations that rise up against Him. When they decided to storm against Jerusalem, they, in reality, declared war on God Himself. God utterly devastated them so severely that even His enemies must acknowledge Him.

“I Will Be Exalted In The Earth”

To reinforce this truth, God repeats it a second time, saying, “I will be exalted in the earth.” Whenever God reiterates something, it is to lay stress upon its great importance. The parallelism in this verse reveals the extreme significance of this divine statement. 

Wherever this devastating defeat is made known, God will “be exalted in the earth.” This means He will be elevated in the eyes of all nations. The peoples of the earth will tremble when they hear that their armies have been rendered powerless by His mighty right hand. They will know that the Lord alone is God.

Martin Luther, in the tempestuous days of the Black Plague that swept through Saxony, Germany, became greatly discouraged by the mounting trials it created. He came to the breakfast table one morning with a heavy despair. He looked up and saw his wife dressed in black, as if she was going to a funeral. Luther said, “Who died?” His wife Katie said, “Well, apparently, God, the way you are acting.” 

Likewise, when we are confronted with mounting trials, we must stop despairing, as if God is no longer on the throne. Let us cease striving and know that God is God over the nations of the earth.

God continues to be seated on His lofty throne of sovereignty, raised up over every circumstance. Upon His head are many diadems. In His right hand, He upholds His scepter by which He rules the nations. He is lifted up, high above the trials and tribulations that threaten us. From His exalted position, God is causing all things to work together for our good. 

Let us take great comfort from this reassuring truth—the Lord reigns!