“Be Still and Know That I Am God” is Really Bad News
You better check yo self before you wreck yo self – Ice Cube (1993)
I know this isn't the quote you'd expect to see at the beginning of a church's blog post, but not that long ago a conversation with a friend brought these song lyrics to the conversation. They were brought up as an explanation for a well known section of scripture in the book of Psalms.
“Be still and know that I am God.” — Psalm 46:10
This verse is one of the very well known (as well as misapplied) sections of scripture in our culture. Very often, this verse of scripture is used as a source of encouragement of hope, and it is very likely that a walk-through Hobby Lobby will spot this phrase or verse somewhere.
But unfortunately, it is another verse that has been pulled, as Voddie Baucham would said, “kicking and screaming out of its context”. It often tends to find itself dragged away and shoved onto church signs, bulletins, and social media posts.
But at the end of the day, if we are going to take the Word of God as actual words from God, we must read the Bible how it is written.
We need to understand that, “Be still” is not an encouragement to Christians, it is an intense warning to the nations, and those that war against their Creator.
The context of Psalm is a warning to the enemies of God, that they need to cease or stop their warring against Him. Like an air raid siren from the 1940's, this an warning calling them to “know that He is God”, and this is a battle that they cannot hope to win.
A look at the verses around explain this when they say:
“Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” Psalm 46:8-9
We cannot, especially as the children of God read whatever we want into the texts of scripture, whether it sounds good or not.
The main point of this scripture is that God is coming to judge the wicked. He will not only judge them, but He will utterly crush them. This is not good news; it is really bad news.
While this very bad news for those that are at enmity with God, it is not without good news! God sent His Son to take the penalty for sin for us even when we were His enemies!
“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah would say that it would, please God to bruise or crush Him for His people. (Isaiah 53:10)
That is good news! That the same Judge that is coming to crush His enemies, holds out His hands in mercy through His Son, to reconcile all those that believe unto Himself.
As a whole Psalm 46 is about a safe refuge for those that hope in Him, and this is the hope that we can have too, if we have put our trust in the finished work of Jesus.