Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
Let go of your concerns.
Then you will know that I am God.
Before we go on, pray with me. God, thank you for your sovereignty. Thank you for being with us through our daily struggles. Thank you for the refuge that you bring to us. God please be with us today as we look at your Word and try to understand the magnitude of your dominion. You are great. You are Almighty. You are God. Thank you for Jesus and for the Spirit. It’s in Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Some might say that I’m a “Control-Freak.” And I’ll be honest, I am. I am the poster child for the Type A personality. I’m an overachiever, very organized and always on time. But I’m also over-bearing, nagging and a worrier. In some areas of my life, I strive but in others, it takes a lot for me to break out of “planner” mode and rest. In my last semester of seminary, I was pregnant, taking 5 classes and had 2 jobs. Plus, now that I’m a mom of 2 little boys, I have very little time for myself and God. However, it’s been my practice to begin and end my day with prayer.
The hard part is that often I only complain and beg for things rather than sit in awe of our God. I often have excuse after excuse of why I need control over my life. I have to do this. I need to do that. You would even say that I’m almost “too scheduled.” (I know, my husband, David thinks so). In times of struggle, I do turn to God and ask for guidance and help. But on Monday morning, I go back to my normal routine of taking care of things myself. Because I like being in control.
Now we’ve all heard the cheesy catch-phrase, “Let Go and Let God.” We may have even said it to people at times when there was nothing else to say. Some of you may say that the notion of “Giving God back the control” is nonsense because you may not believe that God has control or that he doesn’t orchestrate things in our life. Although, others may believe that God had a hand in bringing you to this very place where you are sitting today.
Speaking to all of us, of a wide range of theologies that agree or disagree, and no matter what you believe, or where you’re at on your journey, I think we can all agree that our God, the creator, is a sovereign God. And I think that is what Psalm 46 is about, our God is Almighty and majestic, our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. However, I don’t want to focus on God’s sovereignty in times of trouble. I want to look at his power in everyday life – the daily battles rather than the war itself.
In this Psalm, God is asserting his dominion over creation. He is exalted among the nations. He is exalted in the earth. He will make wars cease, break bows and shatter spears. He is reclaiming the power that we, as humans, continually try to claim as our own. But we are told multiple times in Scripture that it is not ours to take. We are not of this world, but meant for something more – Where is the Spirit when we continually try to control our surroundings and our journey. In verse 10, when God calls us to be still, I think he is commanding us to give back that control.
Be still and know that God is God. Some translations say to “cease striving,” others psalms command us to surrender and to submit to God. And I think it requires all three in order to completely “Be still before our Lord.”
Some of you may have heard this Psalm preached as narrative for meditation, to sit and to be quiet in front of God. However, I think to use it simply as a psalm of meditation takes away from what God is truly trying to say here. It is not a meditative state that is recommended but one of reverence and awe. God is our Sovereign Ruler whom we should venerate. He has created all things. He is to be exalted over all.
In order to be still before God, I think the first command is to cease striving. For me, this is a command to stop trying to regain control. In the midst of struggle, I can easily give God control but as I said before, I soon want to be the one in charge. I think the main issue here is one of Trust. In order to “cease & desist” with our own plan, we have to trust that God will take care of things. And it’s much easier said than done. I could give you a long list of things that have been “taken care of” by God, things that ultimately, I knew that I had to give over because I couldn’t handle them on my own and all has turned out well. But it’s the daily reminder that all things work together for the good of those who love God. We have to cling to that promise.
Second, I think that God calls us to submission. I don’t have this idea figured out for myself. I can list all of these ways to be still before God yet I don’t carry them out myself. It’s very hard for me because I’m a control freak. I will pray and ask God to intervene but oftentimes, I give him a timeline to do so. I will often submit myself to God’s will but only if I can decide the terms. But submitting to God and being still before him requires the step that I think most of us have trouble with, that of surrender.
Now that we have given ourselves over to his power, we must yield to it and allow God to work through us. This is the step that most of us miss, surrendering to God’s sovereignty. Some of you may say that it’s easy to “Cease striving” or “Submit to God’s plan”– worrying may not be an issue for you. For others, like me, the whole act of being still before God is a problem of surrender.
In this Psalm, the writer uses images of war in order to command us to submit to God’s authority over all creation. He says that God will be our refuge even though the earth should change and that at the sound of his voice, the earth melts. He says that the city of God is the holy habitation of the Most High. John Cassian believed that one could read scripture on 4 different levels. The city of God, here, could mean a little city or place but it could also mean the church or on a deeper level, our soul. If we are the city of God, have we surrendered to our Master? Have you stopped striving against the Lord? And are you allowing him to work through you? Be still and know.
To end, I would like to look at the example of surrender and submission in the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
39And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ 42Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’
Jesus struggled with the Father’s will but he had to cease and surrender before he could submit to the will of God. Throughout his ministry, Jesus continually gave the power and glory to God. He asked not for his own will but for God’s will. And taking a posture of reverence, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed. It was not about his human struggle but about the divine purpose within him.
Today I ask you to be still before God. If you can, go outside and spend time with God in his creation. Find a spot near a tree to sit and be still. If you are able, put your face to the ground and give God the power, as Jesus did that day in the Garden. Think of the things that hinder your surrender and lay your crown at his throne. Bring your bible with you and take time to reread the Psalm and meditate on the words. Thank God for his son, Jesus.
I hope that you leave with the challenge to spend time with your Master daily and sit in awe. With family, job and other stresses, it may not be easy but there is promise in taking even 60 seconds to just be before you begin.