Be Still and Know 

  • Jeff Crotts
Clear lake with mountains in the background

I thought I would take some time and meditate out loud on a verse the Holy Spirit has brought to my attention over these last couple of weeks. The command from Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God” is not an easy one for someone like me to live by and obey. By nature, I am energetic and task-driven, which can be good traits to have but these very same traits can quickly turn into something bad when they are applied in the flesh. Accomplishing tasks or knocking out a large punch list can be gratifying but when I am working hard out of the resource of my own flesh this “good” thing quickly becomes counterproductive to my relationship with the LORD.  

So, God calls believers (even me!) to “Be still and know” (v. 10). If you need a course change in your life and need to move in a different direction, it is never enough to simply stop where you are going. You not only need to stop going one way, but you must also redirect yourself to take another way. The Psalmist (the Sons of Korah) sings out this command: “Be still and know” as clear exhortation to stop and redirect! When your heart is rolling downhill, first subdue it and then redirect it by meditating on the LORD.  

Stop multitasking on several things and start thinking about one thing, namely God. Believers need to “look up!” and see His incomparable nature and power, while at the same time, acknowledging His operations in your world. This is the basic function of slowing our brains down to a gradual stop while refocusing them to see life in view of God’s attributes. Much like focusing a camera lens before snapping a picture, life comes into clear focus when measured against God’s nature. I confess this could sound like I am giving you some very basic and elementary advice. Yet, if you take an honest look at yourself, you know that taking time to stop to think about God is often a very difficult choice to make and takes strong spiritual discipline by the power of the Holy Spirit to pull it off.  

One of the reasons I am blogging on this topic is to personally discipline my own mind to re-focus on this command more deeply. To “Be still” and to “know [He] is God” is fast becoming my new Alaskan summer goal. As I type this, I cannot think of any better priority I could set for my life. As a side note, one of the main ways I meditate on God’s Word is by typing my way clear through a passage of Scripture. It is what I do as I prepare to preach, so typing becomes the first way I preach the passage to myself often days before I say it to anybody else. A pastor once told me that some preachers first preach their sermons through their fingers, and this is the case with me. 

I think everyone must figure out how they are best suited to “Be still” or to “Cease striving” (KJV) or to simply “Stop” themselves and start thinking about the LORD. Like most things, practicing spiritual disciplines require making a hard choice to do it, so you should allow for the fact that practicing a discipline like prayer or Bible study is never a one size fits all formula. You need to find out what works for you because no one seeks God the same way as someone else does. The great British preacher from the last century, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, used to say in this light that every believer must, “Know Thyself!” Wise counsel when figuring out how to best set the conditions in your own life and care for your soul.  

Ask yourself, “How can I figure out a way to slow down the ride of my life?” Your life may often feel like you are riding on a roller-coaster, fast-moving through twists, turns, and unexpected drops, until at the very end where without warning the brakes quickly clamp and slow the train of cars way down to make a safe stop. This kind of slowdown is crucial for every believer’s spiritual life and begs a question you must ask yourself. “What will it take for me to slow myself down, so I can stop and seek God?”  

Practically speaking, how you make time to meditate on the LORD falls squarely on your shoulders, but with that said, I suggest you crack open your Bibles and read through all eleven verses of Psalm 46 to get started.  

This short Psalm paints an incredible picture of God, particularly how magnificent He truly is! Thinking through the command to “Be still” and to “know…God” will fall flat if you do not allow the Psalmist to fill in who God is and what he is like. This is what the Psalmist does for you to consider Him, think about Him, acknowledge Him, relate to Him, and to personally know Him.  

If you take a quick sweep through Psalm 46, you will see God described in two ways. The Psalmist paints vivid images in terms of God’s nature, especially in terms of His power. God is called a “refuge” “strength” and “a very present help” in verse 1 then a “fortress” in verse 7. Seeing God’s nature, while believing He is present to meet your needs in the middle of a crisis will energize you to keep going when life feels like it is falling apart. You will sing along with all the Sons of Korah, “We will not fear” (v. 2).  

Verses 2 and 3 draw a vivid contrast between trembling and swelling mountains being moved “into the heart of the sea,” (waters roaring and foaming), in contrast to flowing streams that bless “the city of God!” This portrays our world feeling like a complete storm on the outside while God keeps us safe under the shelter of his city on the inside (vv. 4-5). Yes, God is with you, but He also goes outside as a warrior to meet your chaos head-on, for you! He faces the “rage” and with his “voice, the earth melts!” (v. 6). God is called “The LORD of host” (v. 7) meaning He is the God of heaven who is surrounded by His angels, and it is this God who fights for you. “The LORD of hosts [who] is with us!” (v. 11). So, “Be still, and know” that this God, is your God! This is the One you are to look to, who declares, “I am [your] God!” (v. 10). This is the God who is “exalted in the earth!” (v. 10) who calls you to exalt him in your life! “Be still and know” He is God!