Being Still = To Stop Fighting God
This is the last week of our series, and it’s a tough one. Today we’re looking at Psalm 46:10 which says, “Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (NLT).
In the original Hebrew the context of the phrase “Be still” used in this passage means to stop fighting. In fact the Holman Christian Standard version translates it as “Stop your fighting, and know that I am God.”
Most Scholars agree, and we can see it more clearly when we read Psalm 46 as a whole, that God is actually addressing Israel’s enemies here. But this need to “stop our fighting” can, I believe, be applied to both unbelievers and believers. And we see this in Isaiah chapter 30 where we’re gonna spend the rest of our time.
But first let’s do a recap. Here are five definitions of being still that we’ve studied so far:
Being Still = Accepting God’s provision of rest.
Being Still = Letting God fight our battles.
Being Still =Seeking God’s guidance and discipline.
Being Still = Not acting in anger or frustration towards people.
Being Still = Looking to God alone for our hope and security.
I feel like all the definitions of being still we’ve looked at in our series have one over-arching theme: To give up control to God, and surrender to Him in every area of our lives.
It’s hard to think about, but if we find ourselves refusing to be still in any of the categories we’ve looked at in this series, then we’re really fighting God in that area… right?
It doesn’t sound pretty, but at the end of the day, if I’m choosing not to be still in one of those areas, then what I’m actually doing is refusing to surrender control to God in that area. And where there is a refusal to surrender there is a struggle. And where there is a struggle there’s a fight.
Isaiah 30 pretty much summarizes all the different ways we refuse to be still and know that He is God through the example of our spiritual ancestors: the Israelites. Let’s walk through portions of the chapter together starting in verse 1 (reading from the NLT version):
“’What sorrow awaits you my rebellious children,’ says the Lord. ‘You make plans that are contrary to Mine. You make alliances not directed by My Spirit, thus piling up your sins. For without consulting Me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection. You have tried to hide in his shade. But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be disgraced…’”
So here we see the Israelites have:
a). Refused to let God fight their battles.
b). They have given into anger and rage and looked to other people to protect them from other people.
c). They have not stilled themselves to hear and learn from God. Instead they plowed ahead without consulting Him for wisdom.
In short, they’ve taken their lives and their futures into their own hands. They’ve tried to control their situation by their own strength. Look with me starting in verse 15:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to Me, and resting in Me, will you be saved...’” Hmmm, so remember in part one of our series we saw that one definition of being still is resting in God and we see here they weren’t doing that either.
It goes on to say, “In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it…”
Ouch. How many times has God offered me rest in Him and His sovereignty, but I would have none of it? Times I didn’t trust God and instead allowed fear to rule in my heart and dictate my actions. Times I tried to change people or overcome people by my own strength. Times I put my hope in a certain set of outcomes instead of in His power and love. Times I did not still my spirit to learn and be disciplined by Him; times I didn’t go to Him for wisdom and direction and instead acted recklessly on my own understanding. Times I refused the rest He offered me and instead I tried to prove my own worth by the things I tried to do by my own strength. And lastly, times I outright resisted God and deliberately hid parts of my heart from Him—parts I didn’t want Him to heal or change.
But here’s the beautiful part starting in verse 18: “So the Lord must wait for you to come to Him, so” –so what? So He can condemn you? No. It says, “So He can show you His love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are all who wait for His help… you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help, He will surely respond to the sound of your cries. Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink,” (vs. 18-20) (note: Psalm 107 is a beautiful passage that really explains this concept and shows how God pursues us and disciplines us through circumstances all with the goal of rescuing us from our own destruction. So God is NOT abusive, but He does discipline and correct those He loves, we can see that also in Hebrews 12:6).
Lastly, Isaiah goes on to say, “He will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go” (vs. 20-21).
And here towards the end: “Then you will destroy all your silver idols”—all those things we put our hope in besides God--, “You will throw them out like filthy rags, saying to them, ‘Good riddance! Then the Lord will bless you” (vs. 22).
None of us are perfect. We all get lost sometimes. We all get distracted. We all neglect from time to time to be still in the middle of our circumstances and know He is God. We all have moments where we refuse to surrender control to God and end up fighting Him instead.
But the Good News—the beautiful news—is that He never gives up on us. He is always waiting for us. And He is always eager and willing to respond to the sound of our cries for help and show us His love and compassion.
The ability to be still in the presence of God is a miraculous gift given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is because of Him that we can dare to step foot into the holy of holies (Hebrews 4:16). It is because of Him that we can enter into God's loving presence and soak up the stillness of His Spirit. It is because of Christ that we are able to reap all the benefits of being still: rest, deliverance, guidance, peace, hope, and security (Psalm 16:11).
We do not cease to be His children when we mess up. He never stops loving us. And He tells us that when we stumble our way back to Him He will still be with us. He will continue to be our teacher. When we still ourselves in His presence we will be able to see Him, and we will hear His tender, guiding voice once again.