Be Still and Know I am God?
“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) Yet most of the time my life reflects, “Be busy and know that I am tired!” Can I get an “AMEN!” Psalm 46:10, one of the most quoted and beloved verses of the Bible, but do we really understand its meaning? Hang with me as we explore this further and gain understanding. The Psalmist writing under the inspiration of God, writes 10 of the 11 verses of the psalm from the 3rd person perspective, talking to us about ‘He’ (God). The Psalmist encourages that even in natural disasters and national uproar, “Come and see the works of the LORD… He makes… He breaks…” (v8,9) Then in verse 10, the writing changes. It is now from the 1st person – I. It is as if God caused him to pause, whispering in his ear, tell them…“Rapah yada Elohim” (Hebrew) “Be still and know that I am God.” Powerful.
When studying the scriptures, looking at the original language/grammar gives us some great insight. In which I am no expert or scholar, but only observe. For example in Galatians 5:22,23 (N.T. – Greek) the listing of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. At first glance, we think these are verbs, action words, something we do. True. Kinda. They actually are ‘nouns’ – all of them. They are something we possess. I can walk in peace, knowing that through the Spirit, it is a quality I possess. I can operate in self-control because it too is something I possess, it is part of the ‘fruit package.’ The important part – I have to CHOOSE to use it! It is the indwelling of Holy Spirit, as we surrender to Him – He matures and works these qualities through & out our life. Just like in football, I can run for a touchdown, but it only counts if I have possession of the ball. (SCORE!) Running down the field (in my own strength) with no ball, well… the play is VERY unsuccessful!
So it is with the Hebrew, understanding the language, truly helps. Originally there were no punctuation marks. Yet when reading in a modern geeky-transliteration Jewish Bible, (mouth full) our verse reads: “Be still! Know! God.” Here comes the totally cool part – this phrase holds two imperative verbs, meaning they are both commands. Be still! Know! God commands us to know Him. That means it is entirely possible, desirable and (wait for it) yes… expected. But not only this, but the 1st verb (be still) POINTS to the 2nd – KNOW! We are still IN ORDER to know God. WAIT… (I’m throwing in the bonus gift) ALSO, the phrase is known to form a ‘hiphil verb tense’ (in short) it is used to cause something. The subject causes the action of the verb. Meaning, as God says this to the reader, (you & I) ‘we’ are the cause of the verb…know. It is up to us to be still so that we can know Him.
‘Be still’ (rapah) means more than just quieting our mouth. It literally means; ‘to let go.’ It holds the word picture as to have something in your hand, slacken your grip, let it go… let it drop. As the New American Standard translates: “Cease striving.” When we come to God in our quiet time, we can quiet our mouth, but what do we still have in our hands, what are we ‘fidgeting’ with, (metaphorically speaking). Our lives are busy, full…full of STUFF. Granted most of it is completely legit. BUT, God wants us to want Him as much as He wants us. ALL of us. Empty handed. When the psalmists write of praising God with raised hands, the word is ‘yad’, the empty hand, the palmed hand. The hand symbolizes strength and power, when we raise our hands to God, we are in a surrendered posture, we are emptying our hands of our own strength and accepting HIS! (head bowed)
‘Know that I am God’ (know – yada) this isn’t just an intellect knowledge of God, it is a HEART knowing. It is based on relationship, experience. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it reads: “Desist, and learn that I am God.” STOP! It isn’t a slowing down, or I’ll get to it when it is convenient (OUCH!) It is a priority! God is first! God loves full stop. God wants relationship.
God is not necessarily asking us to be quiet (although that DOES help, “Shut thee up!” There is a time to be quiet.) Location is not a huge factor (however, a quiet place contributes) Nor is our physical posture the ‘make it or break it’ element (Yet, face down, does have “I can’t see the distractions” with my face on the carpet benefits.)
All this to say, God wants us to let go of our grasp of distractions, we can sit quietly before Him, but if we are still fidgeting with our ‘stuff’ or full of anxiety of what is going on around us, we aren’t giving Him our full attention, we aren’t experiencing Him, learning Him, knowing Him. As Brother Lawrence so eloquently wrote in his book; “There is needed neither art nor science for going to GOD, but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, or for His sake, and to love Him only.” [Practicing the Presence of God]
There is a natural progression when passion grows, starting at duty, then to desire and most assuredly delight.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” – God, Psalm 46:10
I honor You God, with my time, my desire, my delight and with my empty hands.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)