Formations 05.05.2024: Be Still and Know!

Psalm 46

This psalm contains the favorite, often quoted verse, “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10). I’ve used it in moments of anxiety, restlessness, or worry, repeating it like a mantra to remind myself that God is in control, and I can indeed be still. I take slow, deep breaths, allowing my pounding heart to calm. I rely on this verse as a whispered reassurance.

Except it’s not actually a quiet, comforting statement. Psalm 46 pictures a world in turmoil: mountains shaking, the sea churning, nations warring, and kingdoms falling. In many ways, the description sounds like our world today: war and famine, the US grapples with gun violence and human rights, and the earth struggles for balance amid garbage and climate change.

The psalmist says God takes action. God brings “desolations…on the earth,” making wars cease, breaking the bow, shattering the spear, and burning the shields (vv. 8-9). And then God speaks into the chaos. There’s no period at the end of these words. There’s an exclamation point:

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (v. 10)

This image is not of a gentle, soothing God but of a vengeful, powerful God. We need God to intervene in the turmoil of the world as much as we need God to hold us close in the middle of the night when our fears won’t stop. In a world not so different from the one the psalmist knew, we need someone like him to be the voice of God shouting into the chaos, reminding us that God’s ultimate victory will come to pass. Let us “be still and know” not only in the quiet moments of inner struggles but also in the noisy suffering of a messy world.

Discussion

• Have you ever read verse 10 in its original context before today? If not, does the tone of the verse change for you in any way?
• When is it helpful to be still in the knowledge of God’s quiet comfort? When is it necessary to be still in the awe of God’s mighty power?
• What turmoil in the world concerns you most right now? How does it make you feel to read news reports and see images reflecting this turmoil?
• Who in your life is the voice of God shouting into the chaos and reminding you of God’s ultimate victory?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University (BA in English, 2000), has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theatre productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she always has one book going and several more waiting to be read!

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