Be still, and know that I am God Psalm 46:10
The commonly accepted interpretation of this verse is that it serves as a reminder to us how necessary it is to slow down. The constant rushing of today creates such distraction in our lives, that the opportunity to rest and develop an intimate relationship with God may be lost. Ratcheting down into a lower gear; taking the time to pray and study the Bible; and resting in deep prayer and meditation are absurdly difficult for many people today. Instead we are enmeshed in a lifestyle of schedules, electronics demanding our attention, work responsibilities, family expectations and our own personal events. Where does God fit into all of this? Are we engaging with God using the same intensity that we are using when we engage with our children’s sports and dance activities? According to the verse, we are commanded to “be still.” But what exactly does that mean? Those two words alone are open to an enormous number of diverse interpretations. Let’s explore those possibilities by breaking Psalm 46:10 into smaller bites.
“Be still”. These two words are packed with a commanding voice. This is not an option. There is very specific tone implied here in words spoken by God in such a clear and concise form. We must be still. But here are the questions that, for us mere humans, quite naturally follow: Why? How? When? Where? For how long? Does it mean that whenever we hear or see these words, we must immediately become motionless and silent for some specified period of time? The questions go on and on. The answer to those and the hundreds of other questions that arise when we hear those two words is something that can only be delivered to us individually, and directly by the Holy Spirit. The bottom line is that true obedience is never fully achieved until God Himself is satisfied. How do we know when we have “complied”, when we have sufficiently obeyed the command? How can we possibly know when He is satisfied?
“and know” – how many times in Leviticus and other early books of the bible did God remind the Israelites “I am The Lord your God”? And how many times did they forget God? As time went on and new generations of people came of age, they rediscovered God and his tremendous blessings, and then they, or a subsequent generation, would lapse into a period of forgetfulness. This cycle occurred over and over throughout the Old Testament. Generations were lured away from devotion to God because of sinfulness.
“that I am God” – Wow! This concept is so simple, and yet so profound. “I am God.” We know who God is, don’t we? Or maybe we just think we know who God is.
What if? – what if the translator originally should have said Be, and still know that I am God. A simple transposition of two words, and the strategic placement of the modern day comma, immerses us into a whole new world of meaning. What would God mean if he told us to “be”?
This reminds me of the great freedom that I believe God has so generously bestowed on every single one of us. He wants us to live out the plans and intentions he has for each of us. To “Be” would mean to laugh, sleep, play, eat, learn, work, love…….Isn’t that we why are called Human Be-ings?
Yet there needs to be a caveat – a reminder, because as humans we are also weak at times, forgetful and ungrateful. During all of this being, we need to remember who He is and subsequently who we are. He is God, and we are His beings. We would not even be if it wasn’t for Him.
At first glance the message appears to be similar in both sequences. Yet, upon further examination, we see a distinct difference emerge. The verse, as is commonly accepted, and recorded as such in the beginning of this chapter suggests an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God through restfulness and silent reflection. In other words, knowing comes through inactivity But what becomes evident in the “what if?” scenario is the exact opposite. To “be”, especially when commanded by God, is everything but restful and silent. In this case, activity is actually commanded by God, and the second command follows.