Several weeks into the coronavirus pandemic and a few days into being told that Dallas was placed under a shelter-in-place mandate and I felt my anxiety rising. Seeing some of the grocery store aisles completely empty was the beginning. Hearing about the increased lock-down measures was the catalyst. Yet, God has been ever faithful to calm my heart through Psalm 46, and I thought it would be good to take some time to work through that in the hope that it provides myself and others some much needed encouragement and stability. This is part three in a three part series.
Psalm 46:8-11 ESV
8Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations 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.
In the last post we talked about how the Psalmist points to God’s absolute sovereignty and that His sovereignty is precisely why He can stop nations in their tracks, and why we can have peace. Here, the Psalmist begins by inviting us to “behold the works of the LORD.” The Psalmist isn’t merely claiming that God is sovereign, he is inviting us to look at the evidence that supports God’s sovereignty. Look at all that God has done!
God destroys the enemies of his people. God ends the wars that wage against His people and throughout the Earth. The mightiest weapons of the day cannot even touch Him. He destroys even the weapons of His enemies. He even removes the ability for the enemies of God’s people to move against them.
I will forever be indebted to J.R. Vassar for pointing out this next part about the first sentence of verse 10. We see it all the time on coffee cups and t-shirts and growing up in church any time anyone wanted to tell us the importance of having “quiet time” or “devotionals” this sentence came up, “Be still, and know that I am God.” But Vassar pointed out that this isn’t what the text is saying at all. Yes, time with God is certainly important, and there are other verses for that, but that’s not what this text is talking about.
“Be still” is much more about the state of our heart than it is about the movement of our body. When the seas roar, when mountains move, when the nations rage, and the world around us is in a panic. When everything around us is causing our hearts to get stirred up and in a frenzy…God says, “Be still.” This is much more like Jesus commanding the seas to be still than it is telling us to find a quiet place to pray. This is God telling the waters of our heart to be still. This is God removing anxiety and commanding our hearts to be at peace.
How can we have peace when everything around us is spiraling out of control? First, because it’s out of our control but it is not out of God’s control. The next phrase in the sentence, “…and know that I am God” is telling us to recognize His authority over all of creation. What we would deem as chaos God saw coming from before the dawn of time and if something is happening it is because he permits it in His great wisdom and love. Second, we can have peace in the middle of the world falling out from under us because God “will be exalted among the nations… [and] in the earth!” No matter what comes against His people God has the power to end it. No matter how long it lasts God will be exalted when all is said and done.
Our hearts can be at peace because whatever is going on right now God will be exalted in the end. He may be exalted by us when the immediate crisis is over, but He will be exalted by all in the end.
Again, we are reminded that God is a covenant keeping God and we can trust in His promises because we have a history of seeing God keep His promises and because He alone has the power to keep every single promise He has made.
Our hearts can be at peace because God is with us and He is our protector.