I Will Be Exalted

By Dakota

Psalm 46:10a says:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

In times of uncertainty or of pain a good friend will offer words of comfort to still a turbulent soul. After a break-up, someone might say “Cheer up; there’s plenty of fish in the sea”. After losing a game, someone might say “Hang in there; there’s always tomorrow”. This pattern of condolence is common in our world, and is meant to give hope to the listener.

In this time of uncertainty, with Covid-19, government-mandated shutdowns, loss of employment, and stock market drops, many Christians are looking to Scripture to provide hope and bring peace into their lives. However, it seems everywhere I’ve heard this verse shared – from radio to social media platforms – the deeper context seems to be missing. I understand we live in a time of sound-bites and click-bait, where we move at the speed of instantaneous updates. People want the bottom line, and don’t have time for anything else. But if you’re willing to bear with me, I think taking a look at the context of this passage will help us to both understand the psalm better, and understand God’s heart better, which will lead us into greater worship – in both spirit and truth.

The psalm begins:

“God is our refuge and strength,

    a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam,

    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah”

Notice the verbiage here: “we will not fear” is future; “God is our refuge” is present. The foundation for hope and the source of our help is God himself. Because the psalmist has grounded himself in the Lord, no earthly upheaval will shake him.

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

    the holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

    God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

    he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us;

    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”

Moving from physical, earthly forces (mountains, seas, etc.) in the beginning, we now see human forces in upheaval. Nations and Kingdoms are uncertain here, and at the voice of the Lord they melt. The Lord has power over both inanimate and personal forces. The psalmist here calls for God’s people to remain steady, using for the first time what becomes a refrain: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Though God has the power to destroy even our mightiest efforts, he “is with us”.

“Come, behold the works of the Lord,

    how he has brought desolations on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

    he burns the chariots with fire.”

God has ended wars and laid to waste human endeavors. What are we to do? Where do we have hope?

“Be still, and know that I am God.

    I will be exalted among the nations,

    I will be exalted in the earth!”

God speaks here. What action does he call us to? Stillness. For what reason? Our comfort in all the tumult and all the uncertainty of the world is knowing YHWH is Lord, and he will be exalted. That is our condolence. That is our source of comfort. The glory of God’s name will spread throughout all the creation. And notice again the physical and human forces here, “earth” and “the nations”, respectively. Make the Lord your source, and you will have peace. If you put hope in physical health, economic gain, or even meaningful employment, you will likely be disappointed. But if your hope is that God’s name will be praised, you will never be disappointed. That is our comfort.

“The Lord of hosts is with us;

    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah”

The victor is on our side. Nothing can shake us.

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