(8) Come, and behold the works of the Lord, what wonders he has achieved on the earth. (9) Putting an end to wars as for the ends of the earth; he will crush the bow, and break in pieces the weapon, and burn the bucklers with fire. (10) Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (11) The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our helper.
Be still and know. The Psalm is praising God for all that He is and has done. God is our fortress, a theme that recalls war and conquering armies of heaven. To the ancient Israelites God was called on for help in battling enemies and protecting their lands. This is what I find so amazing about this Psalm, it begins with God as a powerful protector against angry waves and shaking mountains, and nations in chaos. In most English translations God is said to have wrought great scenes of desolation and at his voice the earth melts. The scene is different in the Septuagint, the selection I chose. In this translation God has achieved wonders, miracles, things to look on and make the heart glad and still. Be still, have peace and comfort in who God is. God put an end to wars and broke the weapons used to sow chaos.
God has taken the chaos surrounding Israel and brought peace to their hearts. This is a miracle. The word “miracle”, as used in the Septuagint, is found many other times, and was often used to describe the wonders that Moses and Aaron did before the Pharaoh in Egypt. God performed these miracles through two faithful men. Moses was in constant contact with God and expressed worry and self-doubt. Moses made it through with God’s mighty help, a refuge for Moses to get him through. Hebrews 11 tells us that Moses was faithful, he followed his Savior, he communicated with his Savior for strength and peace.
When I read such passages I stop and wonder, at times, why I do not do the same? God is with me, always and yet I do not always call on Him for peace. Things around us are often chaotic and seem hopeless, strained, and impossible. It seems there is so much going on around us and it is too easy to forget that God is with us. The world takes over and we slip into the frenzy. God can do miracles. This is what Israel found out and what the Psalmist reflects on. Did the mountains literally shake? Was the water in an uproar and foaming? Did God cause them to cease their roaring and rumbling? No, this is all poetic prose. Israel had real enemies and fought very real battles. They suffered casualties and death, and lost land, and homes. But they sought help from their LORD, and according to Psalm 46, he brought them peace.
Be still and know that God is with us. No matter what we are going through, God is our refuge. For us, the miracle might not be a dissolution of our situation, it might be as simple as finding a little peace and confidence. The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson offers a different take on verse 10; "Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything." This is perfect, “step out of the traffic”. Sometimes stepping out of the traffic is exactly what we need. Step out and pray, for anything, just talk with your savior, your refuge that is within you, the bringer of peace. There is some terribly busy traffic in the world today and rather than letting the traffic overwhelm us, we should take some time and shut it off, or shut it out. Rather than merging with the traffic or opening a new path for it to flow, stand against it and stand firmly, with the peace of God. This is what we are called to do as believers today. The Kingdom of God asks us to stand in peace against the tides of chaos. So, not only should we get out of the traffic and pray for our own sanity, we should do it because it is our responsibility, and the way God wants us to conduct ourselves in the world. A people who shine bright in the traffic, full of joy and peace.