BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD..
Psalm 46:10 These words of God are full of majesty and power. They speak of ultimate total authority over all that He has made. They combine a sense of great peace and quiet assurance unmatched within the experience of mankind. ... And some have found that rest. The context affords these words a particular place in the dispensational programme, yet how many believers of every age have found the measureless comfort latent in these words of divine command. At this word of supreme authority and might how many burdens have rolled away, how many mountain-like obstacles in the path collapsed and crumbled away, how many doors opened as of their own accord, how many giant enemies of the soul melted away into the shadows from which they came.
"Be STILL and KNOW that I AM GOD."
How wonderfully it calms our fears, meets every need, and dries our tears. In face of tragedy or loss, or bitter trial, perplexity or crisis in the life, what peace, what inward source of strength it brings, beneath those great eternal wings to hide, and in our God in simple trust confide and find repose.
"It is your FAITH that is NOW on trial.." How often time these words recall in face of trial set to prove our total trust, explore the grace sufficient for the hour, and there to know His steadfast love and care. In face of turmoil, in the storms of life, we set compass not to earthly but celestial things, and new perspective find distinguishing at last the unimportant from those things belonging to our peace. These are the issues of life. Be still and know...! Ps 46:4-5 "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early."
In ancient times the Jews divided the book of Psalms into five parts to correspond with the books of Moses. What their authority we do not know, but merely note the added interest to our text to realise that the sequence of psalms around Psalm 46 was allocated thus to the second book, "Exodus". The Exodus section commences at Psalm 42 and leads to 72. From ancient times in this sequence was a pattern perceived. Sufficient time is ours at present to confine attention to the first seven psalms of this Exodus book, and here a pattern is not hard to find. This pattern links both advents of Our Lord and leads to features of our present day and onward through the trouble yet to reach climax, like the raging of the sea, then falling back before the Rock. Thus far and no further shalt thou come.. or no flesh will be saved. Beyond that storm new vistas rise and earth responds in joyous praise, beholding now the might of God revealed in kingdom growth, as nations recognise and bow before their great Creator's call.. "Be still and know.." What panoramic view is here portrayed! What majesty revealed! What grand and stately steppings of our God!
Psalms 42 and 43 combine, perhaps one psalm, to tell in touching language, so it seems, the tearful passage over Kidron's brook first of King David, when rejected by his own, then Jesus, when He walked that same sad path without the camp, rejected by the ones He came to save. "Behold your king!" "We have no king but Caesar.." .. And to this day the same response is heard. "Upon us be His blood and on our seed." Remarkable that cry that was to frame the age between the advents of that Lord.
We find it echoed in the next psalm 44, a nation scattered and cast off. Thus Israel did her own prophetic call fulfil to bear the judgment she had brought when wicked hands destroyed the Prince of Life. And her sad course was parallelled by faithful church, who for sins not her own was also called to share the path of tears and shame her Master trod. Thus Paul quotes from this very psalm,( verse 22)"Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter." The age of trial, both for faithless Jew and faithful church, provokes the cry (verse 23) "Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever." (verse 24) "Why do you hide your face.. ? (NIV) For so it seemed for saints and Jew alike. (See Isaiah 54, a promise framed in words alike of meaning to both seeds.)
Then time of blessedness arrives, Psalm 45, the heart now bubbles over with delight for here we see the end of age has come, and with it comes our King in glory clad, prepared in majesty to rise and to go forth with arrows sharp and sword upon His thigh. He takes to Him His Bride, with gown embroidered by sharp trials, His working in, our working out, salvation's end, once sown in tears, now reaped in joy unspeakable and full. New government is taking over earth, and saints are taking seat beside their Lord for ministry that excels in glory all before.
This perfect sequence follows with the next, Psalm 46. A time of global trouble must betray the hour of conflict for dominion of mankind. Defiant to the end, the Pharaoh keeps his slaves, and will resist the challenge, "Let them go!" though signs amass that show how impotent the gods his reign imposed on man. Meanwhile both wild and natural branches of the olive, church and Israel, claim attention of their God, as each He gathers home, to Canaan earthly, and to that of heaven, both ultimately to Himself. "Our Refuge and our Strength is God.." This truth so precious to His saints, is yet to find the heart of Israel too, and there eternally reside. Amid the scenes of gathering storm so graphically described in language of this psalm, a hand is glimpsed protecting from all harm that people chosen for His own, both Zion above, and Zion too below. The dawning of our morning has arrived, and with it Israel also now appears within her land, and neither shall be moved from that eternal purpose now to be fulfilled. The Jew, like Jacob, is the first to learn how bleak and fruitless is her fight against the Lord, and this the Gentile too must also learn.
The headlines of the news today were written first in Genesis, for there were laid the deeds of the possession of the land. The promise of the Lord must be fulfilled, and in our time. Gen 28:15 "And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." What stirring time to live and witness this contention of the Lord with nations gathered to dispute a Will beyond all human power to change. Behind their fury do we see Satanic effort to withstand at any cost the kingdom that approaches to his ruin. The earth now trembles on the brink of doom, but Zion sees in these same scenes sure signs of progress of the kingdom age. They are not hard to find, those evidences of a mightier hand behind the news. They know they are secure, these saints of God, whatever happens cannot separate from Him, nor from His love so proved. The end of victory is sure! They do not fear the outcome of the strife, but watch from Horeb's mighty rock the great display, without dismay. Their confidence extends beyond themselves, to Israel, to mankind. Theirs is no selfish sense of peace, for each saint knows to what great end the Master works His mighty acts. We know that in completion of the Christ lies hope for every soul on earth. Our confidence is for mankind, and in the prospect of that blessed flood now waiting from Heaven's windows to descend when trouble's cleansing work is passed, and all that now offends removed, like swine of Gadara rushing to the sea. Zion's radiance and gladness now reflects from faces of the brethren here on earth, for they have caught those first warm rays of dawn that speak of blest new day begun.
But now the nations rage indeed, the kingdoms move, great roaring of the sea breaks on the ear, as captives strain at prison doors, and break their chains, and turn upon their masters whose cruel powers must fall before the wave of discontent. More graphic words are hard to find than in this psalm, the concise prose that sums what we are witnessing today. The Hebrew gives four statements in verse 6, like toll of bell that speaks with fateful sound. In Hebrew brevity of speech, "Raged nations, kingdoms moved, uttered His voice, melted the earth." In modern smoother language of the Living Bible.. "The nations rant and rage in anger, but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter in ruins." "When God speaks.." Will literal sound break through from heaven's realm? There have been such occasions in the Word described. Some have indeed heard that most awesome sound, while others thought it thundered yet perceived no message in its roar. Will this be something more? How will God speak? With what voice will He shake foundations of this earth and shatter power of spirit realm that rules this present evil world, and both remove?
The psalm has a refrain. Verse 7 and 11 repeat.. "The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." Repeatedly this message gives us clue to how the Lord will yet command this earth, "Be still..!" In course of time this echoing refrain will yet become the message of the hour compelling to man's ear, like trumpet growing louder every day, insistently to stir the hearts of men until the irresistible decree is heard with understanding and assent. "Be still..!" What message is it that will yet command such victory over human arrogance, break through the blindness brought by sin that veils man's heart from his Creator's sovereign Will? A mighty witness will impose on human minds a truth that cannot be ignored. Amid the crashing of all earthly powers, the mountains shaking, crumbling into sea with thunderous roar, all Satan's arts with earthly might combined in conflict with God's Lamb, yet failing crushed beneath a power exceeding all, while every kingdom fails, one yet endures on which He placed His name! A two-fold witness, like a still small voice, proclaims the triumph of right that seals the doom of darkness, sin, and every cause of heart-ache on the this earth. A Zion enthroned above, a Zion below on earth! Two witnesses.
The spirit heavens shake already at the sight of what is happening now above. "The sons of ignorance and night" by grace divine are changed to share the throne of Him Whose Name is high above all other names. Beyond the reach of all Satanic power the victors stand this precious moment all time, and in this glorious act the Lord God speaks a mighty sermon to each fallen demon's heart. "Be still, and cease from battle with the Truth, with Light, and know in Me alone the infinite might of the only God." Thus does He crown this age of grace in which the preparation of each living stone has, one by one, that coming doom ensured of all that would withstand His mighty love. But what of man on earth? He does not know as yet of heaven's scenes of joy and victory for saints. What does man see that will compel him yet to stand and stare in awe, and will afford so powerful and so forceful a command?
Whose God is it repeated in refrain? The God of Jacob? Israel's reappearance on this earth a sovereign state the saints have recognised long-since as sign of Israel's Messiah, His tell-tale work, Whose presence such a sight demands, for unto Jesus was entrusted such a task. Isa 49:6 "And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." Yet somehow man has missed the meaning of this wondrous sign, and even Christian watchers fail to grasp the implications of this sight. Meanwhile in Israel to religious mind, these very facts of restoration seem a blasphemy to those who only know them as Messiah's act, yet fail to see His form. These thus decry as premature the very signs that say, "there standeth One among you now you do not know." As we have grown so used by touch of switch to flood a room with light, and daily view on screen an instant view of scene beyond our shores, so man accepts without a thought prophetic sign of Israel in her land once more, and few still pause to wonder why such miracle. A mightier witness yet that land shall be, as God has said, "Ye are My witnesses.." The signature repeated in the psalm is that of Jacob's God, and God, with Jacob, will yet gain the full attention of this earth and all therein. As saints ascend to join that gathering on high, a sight for spirit eyes alone, Israel remains below, and Israel will yet endure amid the plotting of the Evil one, and centre of the bitter hate of men intoxicated with but one mad wish to drive the Jew into the sea. But that, we know, shall never be! That tiny insolent state that dares to take its stand on alien ground, on every side surrounded, as the Word described, with perpetual hate. "Ye are My witnesses."
The greatest powers of earth have laid her waste, Assyrian from Bagdad, then Babylon, and Greek, and Roman pagan, papal too, and fanatic warriors of the false prophet, Islam, largest empire of them all. Their power has come and gone, except the last reserved for final judgment now, YET ISRAEL STANDS within her land. She has no right to be, except as witness to the power and purpose of the Lord. Yet greater witness yet awaits this earth, for Israel will endure as all the might of demon and of men possessed will spend its fury on this hated race. A roaring wave will break in anger on that land, and yet will Israel stand as solid rock while every power against her falls away, and in dismay her enemies lie broken at her feet. A greater hand than man's decides the scene, and writes the script, and tells what end shall be. To heaven's music was the drama set so long ago in these revealing psalms. Songs of deliverance divine, melodic themes to thrill believing hearts while three millennia waited for this day in which we stand, now to give way like star-light in night's darkness yields to dawn's more perfect light. Now does prophetic word unfold interpreted by events more perfectly than any could conceive before its day. Time now of blessed liberty for Jew to leave her alien lands, as gates are opened, once so stoutly barred. This is the hour of freedom to return to that fair land long promised by her God, and yet that very liberty lifts restraint allowing anti-semitic trends once more to make the Jew a scapegoat for all ills that now frustrate mankind. What stirring time indeed! and we have witnessed rousing times before.. as iron gates yielded to reveal in concentration camp a sight of bones and sinews moving from the mass of dead, half dead, and some but half awake.
"Can these bones live?" How graphically portrayed prophetic vision in those scenes. Ezekiel 37 reenacted as in vision seen, yet still symbolic of the great awakening to progress to breathing of His life within, and that not 'till that servant's word went forth as instrument of God's almighty power. Will that be ours, the privilege to impart the Holy Spirit, as did Christ, when sacrifice is finished when from beyond that veil the Spirit and the Bride say "Come"? Yes, even more compelling scenes await this earth. Amid the turmoil of the end of age, not that alone but end of evil world, the shouts of triumph that rise Zion above will yet find echo here in Zion below. Believing hearts in Israel yet will sing the song of triumph of Psalm 46. How often have the watchers searched the end-time prospect in such passages as Ezekiel 38 & 39, and Zechariah 12 & 14, and today we search again lest we have missed some vital detail of the scene.
The language of the stone cut out without the aid of human hand or human army to invade.. The time of impact, not of man with man, but now of light with darkness, power of right and truth against the realm of Satan's evil hold upon the race as exercised through human rule of empire, government, and rule of kings. Infallible today those mighty signs that tell us that the stone HAS STRUCK! The earthquake has begun, the shaking of the power of kingdoms of this earth in whose day Heaven's rule begins. And we have seen enormous cracks appear that speak of mighty conflict in a realm beyond man's sight where wicked spirits cling so desperately to earth's domain. There lies the centre of the quake that threatens devastation here below of Satan's rule. Before our eyes (or of our parents) empires fell, and long established ruling houses ceased, disintegration's process now pursues relentless course. Within a score of years the mountains fell into the sea. Britain once "great", and U.S.A., alone lost forty fragments of their realms. More recently in Africa, released from gun-power fear of foreign lords, the winds of change have furiously wrought havoc nor yet spent, while age-old hatreds and blood feuds that tear apart the least important lands bring sense of impotence and fear to all the powers of earth combined in vain attempt to save this threatened world. The cry for help though faintly raised in China's vastly peopled land strikes fear, as one third population of this earth abide the hour when nothing will withhold the flood now ready to burst forth. Once the restraining power is shattered by that force no one can visualise the evil in its wake, already visible at communism's fall in Russia and in other blood-drained lands. Historians agree, that 1914 struck the hour of change since when nothing has been the same. "The wise shall understand.."
There, centre stage, on time, sign of the work of Son of Man, stands Israel, first evidence of kingdom age begun. Why does this little state exist? ..And why described in words so stirring at this hour.. "a stone"? We read the word of Zechariah 12 (verses 1 to 6) translated from the Vulgate. "Burden of the Lord's doom, where falls it now? On Israel. Word from the Lord, Who spread heaven out, founded earth, fashions the life that beats in man! This is My decree, that Jerusalem's walls (ay and the whole of Juda shall man those ramparts) be offered to all the nations round about for a fatal cup; to all the world Jerusalem shall be A STONE immovable; lift it who will, shall be torn unmercifully. See where they muster to the attack, all the kingdoms of the world! Time NOW, the Lord says, to dazzle steed and craze the rider's wits; for Juda, the sunshine of My regard, the heathen must ride in darkness.. " (Verse 6) "chieftains of Juda themselves shall be My instruments then, fire-brand in the forest, spark among dry sheaves, to devour all nations right and left of them. JERUSALEM SHALL STAND, WHEN ALL IS OVER, WHERE JERUSALEM STOOD." What wonderful words. "The God of Jacob is our refuge."
As the dust dies away from the defeat of all the nations that unite against her, Israel, that first visible stone of the kingdom age, will be seen to endure and prosper, and what mighty witness this will be to the invincible power of the Lord of Hosts, the God of Jacob fighting for His people again, as in the days of old. Not far away, as Zechariah shows, will recognition of Messiah awaken in that race the deep emotions of a contrite heart so touchingly described in David's sad lament, Psalm 51.1-3 "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (2) Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (3) For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. (6-10) Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (13) Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. (16-19) For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar."
Again we see the tears shared by Joseph and his brethren. What of the Saviour's heart right now, Who, weeping at sight of Jerusalem, spoke with emotion of this hour when recognition would break through that veil and blind eyes would be opened, tongues unloosed long silent in His praise. "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." Up to this hour, as at the time when David came again after the flock had rejected their shepherd, it has been the priests (the church) who have recognised their Lord's return, but next comes Judah with her tears of mingled grief and joy to bring back her King. What wonder in the eyes of "Christian" tribes of earth when it is Jew who tells them that the Lord had come! Not word alone will testify this truth, but Israel's rock-like presence there when storm subsides and raging nations impotently fall like mighty waves spent at her feet. "Jerusalem shall stand, when all is over, where Jerusalem stood." She shall not be moved. With equal point the words of Ezekiel (from the Vulgate) state.. "My greatness, My holiness, shall then be displayed for a world of nations to see, and they will recognise my power at last.
The Vulgate version of Psalm 46 reads thus.. "God is our refuge and stronghold; bitter the trial that has overtaken us, but He can save. Not for us to be afraid, though the earth should tumble about us, and the hills be carried away into the depths of the sea. See how the waters rage and roar, how the hills tremble before His might! But the city of God, enriched with deeply flowing rivers, is the chosen sanctuary of the Most High, God dwells within her, and she stands unmoved; come dawn, He will grant her deliverance. Nations may tremble, and thrones totter, earth shrink away before His voice; but the Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come near, and see God's acts, His marvellous acts done on the earth; how He puts an end to wars all over the world, the bow shivered, the weapons shattered, the shields burnt to ashes! Wait quietly, and you shall have proof that I am God, claiming empire among the nations, claiming empire over the world. The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge."
We have mentioned how remarkably the previous psalms (42 to 45) led in perfect sequence to this point. One psalm answers another, the sorrowful and lonely experiences of the cast off Messiah being echoed in that of Israel throughout the age. "Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people." (Ps 44:13-14) In this essential sharing of the experiences of Messiah will the Jew one day learn the lessons of its history, "His blood.. upon us." While blood of saints has cried "How long?" the Jew has been scattered and peeled.. (Verse 23) "Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever." Then comes the Lord's response at His return, when girded sword upon His thigh, in faithfulness and truth He starts His grand yet awful work, and will not rest till all is right upon this earth. Then (Psalm 46) a trouble that will break the hold of Satan from this earth, for thus He binds the strong man of the house. Isa 14:12 "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! " Now is it Israel's turn to yet become a witness to the power and faithful covenant love of God, while to the earth the cry goes forth, "Be still.." "Now cease from vain attempt to disregard or fight against the heart and hand that brought you forth."
Yet still the sequence flows, Psalm 47.. We hear the voice of Israel now.. 1 "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. 2 How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! 3 He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. 4 He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. Selah 5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. 6 Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. 7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. 8 God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. 9 The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted." (NIV) From every corner of the earth mankind will yet applaud, a great clap-offering to the Lord! Psalm 48, the seventh and the last of this grand sequence aptly pictures glorious Zion. Ps 48:1-3 "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. God is known in her palaces for a refuge." (KJV) Now Zion reflects, as will the world of men, upon display of might that put to shame all human strife against the Lord. (Verses 4-8) "When the kings joined forces, when they advanced together, they saw and were astounded; they fled in terror. Trembling seized them there, pain like that of a woman in labor. You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish shattered by an east wind. As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever. Selah." (NIV) Well may the hill of Zion rejoice. (Verses 9-11) "Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments." (NIV)
In retrospect this triumph-psalm reviews her Saviour's works, looks back and traces grand design behind the trial and tears. Forever now His witness stands for every opened heart to view, a source of Light for all mankind in which they yet will walk. (Verses 12-14) "Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation. For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end." (NIV) But there will be no end, except to sadness, pain and death, and every sorrow sin has brought, for these shall be "no more." Again so telling is this psalm translated thus.."Here in this city of the Lord of Hosts, the city of our own God, we have proved the tale so long since, God has built her to endure for all eternity; sheltered in His temple, we sought and found deliverance." This is the Word of The Lord. Isa 14:7 "The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing." a blessed rest indeed from all man's striving with the Lord.. "The whole earth now shrinks back into ease; listen to its cry of rejoicing." How long we for that rest that gladdens earth, a glorious rest indeed! Meanwhile we share that joy of peace with God as earnestly we strive that rest ourselves to fully know, in face of every circumstance of life that word so sweet brings comfort to the soul.. "Be still and know that I am God." "I will be exalted in YOUR heart, exalted in YOUR life." We live in such a restless world. Sometimes our busy Martha hands conflict with Mary's readiness to sit and listen at His feet, yet both are sisters Jesus loves, and both a part will play, harmonious duet. May we TODAY before Our God spend moments listening to His voice and practice stillness there, until deep hush subdues those words and works that drown the tender whisper of His call. So noiseless let His blessing fall as fell the manna down, and dewed mount Hermon's crown. _________________________________________________________________