What if we got it wrong? I will be the first to admit I don’t hold all the truth. However, I live my life, like we all do, according to the truth I do hold. But what if there was more to our truth that what we were comfortable acknowledging?
This is a beautiful verse that brings great comfort and peace to many. If you googled images for these words you would be overwhelmed by a wash of stunning pictures, soft colours and calming metaphors: A safe harbour in the tumultuous storm, a bright sunrise after a torturous night, a “welcome home” after a tedious journey.
Psalm 46 describes scenes of war, distress and overwhelming odds followed by great comfort: “… though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea … we have an ever-present help in trouble”.
But What if …
But what if we were to look at the verse in a different light to the one we see on Google? What if, instead of God offering us a comforting cup of tea at a peaceful kitchen table because things have been a bit tough, we see an alternate image. For example, a chef chastising his trainee?
“Stop putting your grubby fingers in my dish. Be still, keep your hands to yourself. I’m the Chef!”
Rather than imagining God inviting us to come sit by the fireplace to unwind because we’re “done in”, what if we imagined a master potter reprimanding her apprentice?
“Stop adding fuel to the fire and water to the blend. Be still, stop meddling with my perfect work. I’m the Potter!”
Instead of seeing Jesus as one who frolics with lambs and toddlers, what if we saw him as a General coordinating an imposing army?
“Stop running ahead and endangering, not only yourself, but the entire mission. Be still, get back in line and stay there until I say move. I’m the Commander!”
… We Look at it Differently
As I said earlier, I will be the first to admit that I don’t hold all the truth. But from my personal experience, I see this verse differently to the way it is commonly portrayed. Yet, I still receive great comfort despite the difference of interpretation. From Psalm 46 I understand that:
- God is ever present and will honour His promise to be my fortress. Ps 46: 1, 7, 11
- I chose this path and I knew it was going to be hard. When I struggle, flail and hit the wall it’s not a sign of failure. It is an expected outcome of the choice I made. Ps 46: 2-3
- It is not my battle, it’s God’s. He sees all, knows all and is all-powerful. I can trust that when He gives me a directive, God knows what He’s doing. Ps 46: 4-6
- God is God. I don’t have to do His job; I just have to do mine. Ps 46: 8-10.
We Are Not Alone
From Psalm 46 I understand that I am not alone. The Psalmist uses terms such as “our”, “us” and “we” rather than “I”, “me” and “mine”. When I chose to accept the invitation of adoption into the family of God; to be a follower of Christ, I became part of a large body of believers. Each of us with a different job to do.
None of us run the show, and none of us need to carry more than what we are given. Even though we are promised a light burden to carry, it is still a weight to bear.
However the yokes we wear are not singular. They are tandem. We are to work as a team. And, as part of that team, if I run ahead, lag behind, step out of line, or stick my fingers in where they’re not wanted, I am not only interfering with the work of God, I am hampering my yoke fellows.
Perhaps, rather than envisioning sitting in a comfy chair, being ministered to by angels, watching Jesus frolic with lambs, “Be still and know that I AM God” could be seen as a directive. Similar to a parent insisting their child sit down, be quiet and jolly well listen to instructions. Because, as anyone who has raised or worked with children would know, getting them to sit still long enough to actually listen to what you’ve got to say is a battle in itself.
Our God is a loving Father. He wants us to go to Him and call Him Dad. He invites us to sit, share and spend time with Him. But our God is also Sovereign God of the Universe. A Warrior God who has promised to bring a sword to earth, a light to the darkness and a fire from heaven. (All themes explored in my novel Dangerous Salvation)
So maybe, just maybe, this verse could be used as a reminder that God is both Sovereign and Parent, we are His soldiers (2 Tim. 2:3-4) and children (Rom. 8:14-16), and as such sometimes (or more often) we just need to shut up and listen.
God is Love
I am not suggesting for a moment that God does not love us. For by His very definition God is love. But like any loving parent who cherishes their child, there are times of frustration. Especially when the child refuses to listen.
To just stop and jolly well listen.
Just as any parent who knows what is best for their child, has a better understanding of the big picture than their child, and who wants the ultimate good for their child, can become exasperated with their child. God’s directive, especially when we consider it is couched between:
8Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Could be read as a command from a loving parent, or an order from a commanding officer.
- running off
- doing everybody else’s job
- Stop being a pain in the backside and just …
Be still and Listen.
I am God. Not you.
Do what you’ve been told.
I’ve got this. Trust me.
I love you. Believe me.”
- What about you? How do you interpret this Psalm?
- Where do you find comfort in these verses?