Psalm 46:10: Be Still Knowing God

Recently I had been thinking about how to minister to several members of our congregation because of what God is calling them to go through again which will surely tax their energy and emotions.  I had also been pondering what we are all going through in the present state of pandemic uncertainty.  So many seem so restless.  So anxious.  And so many Christians just seem so very agitated. 

Psalm 46:10 spoke to our souls: Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  We learn here that the way to have peace of heart and mind in this raging world is to know that God is on His throne.

While I sought the Lord’s guidance for the sermon on this text one early Sabbath morning, our youngest son stirred from his sleep.  Still learning to calm himself he was up and anxious.  I greeted him at his door during his “I’m mad at the world” toddler dance and led him to calmly repeat “Dadda” after me: he immediately settled down while we hugged.  Next, I rocked him as I cradled his bottle of milk against his cherub cheeks.  His tense arms and legs quickly relaxed and he began to breathe heavy.  I then laid him next to me on the couch while I worked on my laptop.  As usual, he first scanned the scene to ensure I was still there.  And that is all he needed to know to be still and rest his little eyes again. 

It is the same for you and me with our Heavenly Father.  We need to know that God Who needs no sleep is always there and has it all under control as we know His still small voice and relax in His calming, comfortable, protective presence.  As my son was able to be still knowing me, so may we Be Still Knowing God.[1]

“Cut me some slack”.  This common phrase comes from docking ships and means “loosen the rope”.  If the rope is too tight, there is no room to relieve or readjust.  And leaving slack allows the boat to float with changing tides without having its balance upset.  The Hebrew for “be still” means to slacken one’s tight grip.  To “relax” or even “sink”.

How can you do that?  By knowing God is always sovereignly protecting His people.  The Psalmist wrestles with all the frightening, unsettling, disturbing aspects of life (such as weather and war)—the kinds of chaos that can spook the best of us and send us running for the hills.  In stead, we need to look to the hills and know where our help comes from: God.  Being still is taking refuge from the storm in God Himself (see verses 1-2a, 7, 11).

If your lack of stillness causes sleeplessness you may still rest in those moments with your Redeemer by your side.  Remember He has songs to give you in the night (Job 35:10; Psalm 42:8; Psalm 77:6; Isaiah 30:29).

In Psalm 46:10, knowing God is in control is to leave room to sense His kingly presence around you and with you.  So that His peace is within you. It is having an ability to appreciate that God will be exalted everywhere and in everything including all the things that rock your world; and this is your chief end, to glorify Him.[2]  Pray God glorifies Himself in your present trials and that you find stillness in His presence.

And remember the means of knowing God to have Christ’s Spirit still your stormy souls—Jesus in the wilderness: constant feeding on the Word; and Jesus in Gethsemane: unceasing prayer.

My wife’s first time with labor was one of intense, rapid, unceasing pain.  Preparing with trepidation for soon birthing our next covenant son, our doula taught her this time to not unrelentingly hold tight to the bedside bar while stiffening her body.  Because “bracing for it” actually makes the pain worse.  She was instructed to let loose and relax to get relief.  She will need to trust God made her body able to do this and endure it.  And she must believe God is directing it all and He will be there with her taking care of her.[3]

Peace is not the absence of problems but the awareness of the mighty and reassuring presence of Christ. 

Are you not feeling quite right? Are you uptight?  Beloved, Be Still Knowing God.

Grant Van Leuven has been feeding the flock at the Puritan Evangelical Church of America in San Diego, CA, since 2010.  He and his wife, Fernanda, have five covenant children: Rachel, Olivia, Abraham, Isaac, and Gabriel (and they are expecting their sixth, Gideon Emmanuel, who is due November 10th!).  He earned his M.Div. at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA.

[1] This article is based on the author’s sermon by the same title available here:

[2] Westminster Shorter Catechism 1.  Question: What is the chief end of man?  Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

[3] Of course, so will her husband!  One other amusing antidote in personal application following the sermon: to his great frustration, the author normally goes through a mound of dental floss at each flossing as the string repeatedly snaps every few teeth.  Experimenting with a “looser” hold did the trick.  Cutting some slack kept the floss from being continuously cut amidst his tight bite.


Grant Van Leuven