How often have you listened to someone recite Psalm 46:10 — “Be still and know that I am God” — when you express feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Like John 3:16, Psalm 46:10 has become one of those verses that is thrown around as encouragement, but the meaning has gotten lost in its overuse. Do we truly understand what it means to be still? What does the Bible have to say about it?
In Exodus 14, we read that the Israelites have been freed from slavery and led out of Egypt after partaking in the first Passover. Camped by the Red Sea, near Pi Hahiroth, they are following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, trusting that God will redeem them from their afflictions; however, their worst nightmare comes to pass when they look up and see Pharaoh and his army charging toward them. In a panic, their fear replaces their faith as they cry out to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11-12 NIV)
How quickly do we forget about the promises of God when we turn our gaze onto the danger or affliction that is ahead of us?
Rather than allowing his faith to waver like the Israelites, Moses remained firm as he remembered that the Lord had told him, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 14:4 NIV) So, lifting his voice over the panic that was rippling through the camp, Moses is the first person in the Bible to declare, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14 NIV)
Be still while your enemy is charging toward you? Somehow, my mind pictures a bullfighter waving his red cape and waiting until the last second to move so the bull’s horns don’t pierce his body — testing how close to death he can come. Just as insane as that scenario is, I’m sure the Israelites hearts were pounding as they listened to Moses’ advice and watched as Pharaoh drew nearer. However, just as quickly as Moses tells the Israelites to be still, God commands them to “Move on.” Hang on, can someone be still WHILE moving forward? Surely there is a contradiction…
Until recently, I’d never correlated Exodus 14:14-15 with Psalm 46:10. I’d always thought that when we read “Be still” in the Scriptures, it truly meant that we were to stay in place. It wasn’t until the topic was broached in a recent zoom call and one of the participant’s words hit the bullseye when she said, “In your hearts, be still and know that God is in control; but, that doesn’t mean you should stop walking or doing whatever it is you’re doing.”
“In your hearts, be still and know that God is in control.” ~ Kemi G.
Even if the storm is raging around us and our overwhelming fear is saying that God has forsaken us, the story of Exodus is a great reminder that the Lord is always with us, fighting for us and protecting us. It doesn’t matter how imminent the danger or high-pressure the task; when we surrender our fears and worries to the Lord and remain firm in our faith, believing that God is on our side, the peace of the Messiah will fall onto us, and we will have the power to emerge from any storm victorious!
Just as the Israelites were delivered from the hands of the Egyptians, God wants to deliver us from the attacks of the Enemy. While we might not physically walk through the parted Red Sea, God is standing behind us with a shield, preventing the flaming arrows from harming us as we walk in faith and live out the calling He has placed on our hearts. Attacks will come, but all we need to do is BE STILL, AND MOVE ON!!
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