“Be still and know that I am God” is a well-known quote from Psalm 46. But what is less well known is the context of that phrase. Usually we hear this quotation in reference to making a space to be still before God and listening to Him speak into our life. And that is a good thing. However, the context is far more intense and even radical.
Reading through the psalm, it is clear that the writer is moving back and forth between scenes of war and chaos on earth and a scene of incredible quiet and beauty in the presence of God. And then immediately after declaring God’s ability to crush the warriors and put and end to war, he gives us these words from the mouth of God: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
It is as if the psalmist is saying, “Stop your noisy and violent efforts to misuse power and control others. I AM GOD! And I am putting an end to your foolishness! Shut up and listen!” He may not be speaking to us at all, but more likely He is commanding the instigators of violence to stop.
That is why the writer can also say, “The Lord is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Whatever waves are being created by those who are impacting our life right now — we have a refuge; a quiet place that cannot be moved, and a defender who will one day demand that the violence be stopped.