Psalm 46 - For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LordAlmighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lordhas done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The LordAlmighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Devotional comment from Stu Armstrong
I used to go to a wee Brethren church. It was a lovely, open Brethren… open like Fort Knox. We had this verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” written on the wall and I thought to myself, “Ok. I will be still and I will know you, God.” I took so much comfort every week from those words, just resting in the stillness and quiet of the morning. So lovely.
Well, turns out it doesn’t mean that at all.
Psalm 46 is amazing. There is so much encouragement and peace to be found in it – “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble,” – but there’s also a bit of telling off in there too. Does your mum ever say something like, “Don’t you dare take another step, mister?” Maybe not those exact words because (a) you’re a bit more compliant than I was, or (b) you aren’t a mister, but I’m sure you’ve heard something like that at some point. That’s a bit like what God is saying here.
It’s the Hebrew word “rapa” that is translated here as “be still.” It actually means something a little different. It means “cease,” “stop fighting,” “put down your weapons,” or a little more bluntly, “shut up!”
This is less, snuggle-up-to-fat-Thor-from-Endgame and more get-out-the-way-of-Stormbreaker-Thor-from-Infinity-War.
For 9 verses we’ve been reading about God’s help, protection, amazing power and “glorious works.” But if we’re honest, it’s not really enough for us. We know all that stuff. We know that God is all powerful and always wins His battles. We know that God can do anything… but we want to do it ourselves anyway. The irony is that we generally just make it worse and have to run to Him a little ways down the road. In verse 10, God is telling us just to stop and let Him fight for us because, in case we forgot, He is God and not us. He is the one who “will be honoured by every nation… honoured throughout the world.”
As a baby, my son Ezra just wouldn’t sleep. He fought and kicked and screamed. I had to swaddle him so tight that he couldn’t move. Kinda like a burrito filled with a screaming nappy. It was only when he couldn’t fight that he actually fell asleep. And it’s the same for us.
When things become hard, when things become overwhelming, when anxiety builds and everything becomes too much, fight the urge to fight. Stay still and remember who is God and who isn’t. Remember He can change everything through the power of His love and you can’t, so don’t worry about even trying. Be still. Put down your weapons. Stop fighting. Shut up. Allow Him to fight your battles and find your rest in the knowledge that “The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.”
Stu Armstrong works at Shankill Parish where he coordinates youth ministry and contemporary services. He also works at Summer Madness and coordinates the seminar programme. He's married to Janine, has 2 amazing and annoying kids, loves bass guitar, milkshakes and brutally heavy music.