What does it mean to be still and know that He is God?

We’ve often heard phrase, “be still, and know that I am God” used to describe a style of prayer in which we simply say nothing and behold the greatness of God.  That’s not a bad thing.  But it’s not what this popular verse is saying.
Psalm 46 is talking about how God is our refuge and strength, our help in time of trouble.  If the world were to collapse, we would not fear.  Nations around us may rage and kingdoms may totter, but at the sound of His voice, the earth melts.  He has brought desolations to the earth, and by His sovereign decree, ended wars.  And here is the conclusion to all of that, in Psalm 46:10:

“Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

There are two possibilities about what this means.  Either, God is addressing the hostile, warring nations to say, “I am God.  You are not.  Lay down your arms against me.  I will be exalted, not you.”  And that seems to flow from what was said immediately before.

More likely, considering how this Psalm begins by saying that God is our refuge and strength, and then how it ends in the last verse, “The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress
“, this is the LORD saying to His people, “Do not fear.  I am God and neither you nor your enemies are.  I have plans that cannot be broken, plans to be exalted among the nations.”  (And this side of the cross, we know how He’s doing it.)  He is sovereign even over the raging nations and tottering kingdoms.  He is mighty over the terrifying forces of the world.  Be still.  Trust in Him.  Know that He, and He alone, is God.

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