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  • Writer's pictureJill Ball

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God


This is one of my favourite scriptures, but in truth I haven’t always seen it in context.


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the LORD has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46


Trouble is the Context


Psalm 46 was written by the sons of Korah, the descendants of the man who rebelled against Moses and Aaron. The sons of Korah were living in uncertain times, part of a dishonoured family, during the time of David.


From the psalm we can see that they were surrounded by war and the threat of natural disaster, not in a time of peace and prosperity.


This psalm was not written in a vacuum, by men who had withdrawn from the world.

They were not writing pretty platitudes for posters or pins on Pinterest.


Trouble was the context - God really was their refuge.

He was their ever-present help, needed because it was a time of trouble.


Trouble is the context for the river of God, whose streams make the city of God glad.


Trouble is the context for the famous words,


Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.


It was in this context that they were looking to God. They were calming their hearts and coming before Him with peace and stillness, knowing that He was in in control and that He would be exalted among the nations.


This is a call to prayer


Today the nations are in uproar. By coming before God, as we still our hearts, as we see his perspective, we will be changed and we will trust Him more. One day we will be able to say, with the sons of Korah,

Come and see what the Lord has done,

the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.


Do Not Fret


Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.
Psalm 37 v 1-11


This is a call to trust


Artist Chris Clark beside his painting of a small black boy, with Prey on his shirt
Prey by Chris Clark @cooli_ras_art

This is hard if we are seeing our communities suffer, while others seem to doing just fine, but the Lord sees it in a different way. In a little while, the wicked will be no more.


David had seen how evil men could flourish while the godly suffer.

He wrote this when he was older and it is considered wisdom literature.


This Psalm is a sermon, and an excellent and useful sermon it is, calculated not (as most of the psalms) for our devotion, but for our conversation; there is nothing in it of prayer or praise, but it is all instruction; it is a Maschil – a teaching psalm;

Matthew Henry


We don’t need to fret, become flustered or be envious, because evil men are like grass. They will soon wither and be gone. Again we see the perspective of heaven.


David gives us practical, sensible advice. Enjoy your life, do the right thing and keep going. Be careful what you focus on. Focus on God. Delight in Him and He will give you more than you need. Because He loves you, He will give you the desires of your heart - if you delight in Him,


Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.


As we look into the face of God, we change.

If we still our hearts, our souls, our mouths, we can begin to listen.

This isn’t passivity. This is actively listening.


At the moment I am learning Turkish and Persian. If I hear them spoken, I have a choice. I can switch off and let the words roll over me, or I can actively listen. It’s only when I do the latter that I can understand what is being said.


It’s often a struggle to concentrate and to focus solely on Jesus.


Thoughts buzz around in our heads like a swarm of mosquitoes, in all directions, monotonously, without order and without particular result.

Theophane the Recluse


The struggle to concentrate and to focus on God and on His word is worth it.

Let's meditate on the words Be still and know that I am God - not forgetting their context.


Be still before the Lord,

and wait patiently for Him



Be Still My Soul - Eclipse 6


The words of Katherine von Sclegell, which were penned in German in the eighteenth century, still have the power to move us. They were translated into English by Jane Borthwick, and set to the piercingly beautiful tune Finlandia, which was composed by Jean Sibelius.

This is one of my favourite Christian songs, although not my favourite music video.



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