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In today's sermon, I suggested a nuanced reading of a familiar verse from Psalm 46. When most people read that phrase "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10) they assume that this is a call to silence and reflection. This I'm sure is within the intended field of meaning of the psalm. And yet I argued that something more specific is in order. As one commentator noted: "The phrase is more like the sound of a parent sharply correcting her or his fidgeting child: "Be still!"."(1) The call is to move away from anxious squirming and to move towards adopting a relaxed and peaceful disposition.

As I read further this afternoon, some commentators see the call in this verse primarily directed at the warring nations, the nations that are "in uproar". The call to "Be still!" is to stop their raging and recognise God's sovereignty. Secondarily this call is directed to God's people who had a long history of relying on these warring nations, rather than trusting in God. In this context they [we] are invited to commit themselves to God alone, "to seek his "refuge," "strength," and "fortress" (vv. 1,7,11)." (2)

Seen in this light the call to "Be still!" is not a call to passivity or quietism. We are to actively turn away from other dependencies and to turn towards the God who is Lord and Sovereign of all.

(1) Susan K. Olson “Psalm 46, Homiletical perspective” Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 4: Season After Pentecost 2 (Propers 17-Reign of Christ).(2)Zondervan’s Expositor’s Bible Commentary

 


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