He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”Psalm 46:10
Imagine two neighboring nations. One feels slighted or insulted by the other. Retaliation. Revenge. Shows of strength. Gathering of forces. Threats escalating. Battle lines drawn up. Battle drums. War cries. Impassioned calls to arms. The two armies—with most soldiers not even knowing why they are fighting—charge each other. But before any strike is laid, God Almighty and his heavenly army swoops down from the heavens. Suddenly spears explode. Shields erupt into flame. Bows break in the archers’ hands. As both armies stop dead in their tracks with confusion and bewilderment, a voice like thunder rings out:
BE STILL! AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE NATIONS. I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH.
This is among the top five verses taken out of context. It’s not said among the green pastures and quiet waters of Psalm 23. God shouts this as he crashes the battle, making “wars cease to the ends of the earth.” From the opening lines of the Bible we see a God who rules over and subdues the chaos. God brings order out of disorder, good creation out of the black emptiness. Job reminds us God is the one who fights back the waters of chaos and destruction. When Jesus calmed the storm, it wasn’t “Hippie Jesus” holding up a peace sign and saying in a chill voice, “Peace, dude.” It was the God of creation commanding, “SHUT UP AND CALM DOWN.”
The only appropriate response to THIS God is fear and awe. The disciples were terrified of Jesus. Job immediately withdrew his accusations. Psalm 46 calls this act of God a “desolation.” Hebrews 10 reminds us, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” And again in Hebrews 13 we’re told to “worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”
But we don’t have to be afraid of God. There’s a difference between the fear of the Lord and being afraid. Psalm 46 is a Psalm of courage and confidence. This amazing, all-powerful God who can do all these things—we’re his people. He’s our refuge and our fortress, “an ever-present help in trouble.”
Listen to Psalm 46 (Lord of Hosts), by Shane and Shane, if you get a chance.