Anyone in the tri-state area knows the jingle 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve heard it, you remember it and possibly will be haunted by it for the rest of the day.
The purpose of songs or jingles is to remember.
The purpose of the psalms in the bible, which are songs, is to remember. It’s to remind and reorient us. Where am I? Who is God? Who are we?
Why do we need to remember? Because we so easily forget.
The premise of Psalm 46 is to Be still and know that I am God. Yet, being still is a massive challenge for most of us. Try taking a moment to be still. How long until something gets your attention or distracts you? Your kids, your phone ringing, the email notification sound on your laptop.
We’re distracted even when we’re trying to listen. Some of us don’t even know how we should listen. Other voices in our lives speak loudly about our fears, anxiety, or the past. Some of them are condemning or overwhelming. Yet, they represent a sort of God to us that directs our thoughts, feelings, reactions, or lives.
And it’s not always just bad things, but ordinary things too. You’re going to spend a moment in prayer, then your phone buzzes, or your kids come in asking for snack #68 of the day.
But the other thing is how God speaks to us. Every other thing that tries to get our attention does it by turning up the volume – appealing to our outrage, fear, shock, or addiction. God doesn’t do any of that.
God was, and is, calling His people to be a specific kind of people to represent Him well. The story of the entire Old Testament is mostly about them going off course, getting distracted, going in the wrong direction, and God calling them back.
This Psalm is not individual. It’s corporate.
There are really 3 sections to this Psalm:
Who is God?
All powerful – He doesn’t fall when everything else does. He’s more powerful than anything, and everything we think is powerful.
Refuge and Strength – The place you turn when things get crazy – where you can run and hide.
Sustaining You – There is a river of life, and God is in the river. Rivers in walled cities siege. It makes us glad when we see the rest stop sign.
With You/Can Be Trusted – Even when everything hits the fan, especially when everything hits the fan, He’s there.
What is God doing?
It’s surprising. Israel is caught up with trying to fight their way out. You and I do this too! God’s saying, “That’s not my strategy, stop doing it your way. Hello! Return back to the people I’ve called you to be.”
This is like when you have to wade into your kids and take away their toys or physically separate them. Stop it! Time out!
We often like our version of who we think God is or would like Him to be better than who God actually is.
Sometimes we get caught up in the wrong pursuits – literally and figuratively. There’s this image of God wading into the world and breaking the weapons everyone uses to fight with.
“Nations are in uproar” is “the way of the world around you is in chaos.”
This is the problem with some of our views of God. We lump Him in with the ways of the world around us like He is a bigger version of that.
This is why the Psalm writers so often talk about the justice of God or even the wrath of God. It’s not that God is running around ticked off for no reason. But God is a holy God, righteous in all His ways and the way of the world. Injustice, oppression, and sin are really significant matters that we need to be serious about. “He lifts His voice, the earth melts.”
But God doesn’t just sit off afar and throw down judgment and lightning bolts. God comes near. He comes close.
Our calling, like Israel’s, is to live out the way of God in contrast to the world around us.
We grab at the wrong strategy because it’s easier and seems to get results faster. Or makes us feel like we are at least doing something.
Waiting on God and taking refuge in Him is even harder. Representing God as He really is in the world is hard. Doing our own thing in the name of God is easier.
What should we be doing?
Often, we look for a new activity. So being still becomes a new task.
Be Still, Cease Striving
God doesn’t call you to a list of new stuff to do. He calls you to Himself. It’s a new way of being.
Psalm 46 is bookended by two verses that speak of God as a refuge. A safe place. A place to be still or to rest under.
If you are a doer, this is actually harder than just about anything else. We want God to give us a new list of things to do. Or to do our agenda for us. He doesn’t do that because that’s actually the problem.
He says, “Remember who I am. Remember what I’m doing. Remember who I’ve called you to be. Slow down. Trust me.”
So, how is God trying to get your attention right now? What is the thing you see as a distraction, a setback, an impediment, or even opposition that God might be using to get your attention?
Maybe you’re trying to figure out what God wants you to do next. And it seems awfully unclear. Perhaps what you need to do is not do. But to be with. To wait. To take refuge in who He is. Maybe it’s because, like Israel, you have the wrong strategy.
If you read this Psalm in a paper bible, there’s a curious word at the end: Selah. It means to pause, consider, or stop. It’s like God’s mic drop.
Be still and know. That I am God. I’m with you. You can run to me when everything feels like it’s falling apart. I’m always at work, even when you’re not. You can count on me. Cease striving. Be still.
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