“Be Still, And Know That I Am God”
By Thomas Reade
At the creation, amidst the darkness of chaos, God said, “Let there be light, and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). When veiled in human flesh, He commanded the raging wind and waves, saying, “Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39). To His tempesttossed people He now speaks these composing words: “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psa. 46:10) – and they find rest unto their souls.
In violent public commotions, God can still the madness of the people; and in inward mental agonies, He can calm the agitated spirit. “When He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when He hideth His face, who then can behold Him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only” (Job 34:29).
When we consider the ever-changing scene before us and perceive though but a small portion of the passions and contending interests which shake the fabric of society, how delightful, how composing to the mind, is this all-gracious declaration: “Be still, and know that I am God.” The political world, like the air and sea which surround us, is ever in motion; but the happy believer finds his rest in God.
The Christian world is all awake to the spiritual and moral degradation of mankind, and is laboring to disseminate the sacred truths of revelation, which alone can raise our fallen race. The enemies of the Gospel and of social order are alike awake to their deeds of darkness. There is, therefore, at the present eventful period, an evident struggle between light and darkness. The struggle may be violent, but the believer hears the cheering voice from heaven, which dissipates every rising fear: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
O my soul, rejoice that the Lord reigneth. He can calm the rough surges of the mind. He can bid the inward tempest cease. He can pour an enlivening ray upon the drooping heart; and cause a sweet serenity and peace to reign within. Trust in the Lord at all times. Be still, and know that He is God.
There is something peculiarly soothing to the heart of a pious Christian to know that He who rules over all worlds, in whose hands are the destinies of nations, and who guides the minutest concerns of families and individuals, is his Father and his Friend.
The more we know of God, of His power, wisdom, love, faithfulness, and truth, the more we shall bow before His throne in humble adoration, and filial confidence and love.
To know God in Christ, to know Him as a covenant God, to know Him as our God, is to possess all the sources and secrets of true peace in the midst of surrounding storms and tempests. This knowledge will raise us above the agitated elements of the world, and place us in that pure region where the soul can breathe more freely and expand her powers more fully. Faith views with admiration the perfections of God. Hope rests the fulfillment of her expectations on these perfections. Love delights in them and gradually assimilates the soul to them, while patience calmly waits, under every changing dispensation, for that abundant harvest of rich blessings, which the God of truth has promised and which His faithfulness will perform.
Come, then, O my soul, and learn from this view of thy privileges, the blessedness of trusting in God. He changes not, nor knows the shadow of a turn (Jas. 1:17). All His promises are yea and amen (2 Cor. 1:20). All His ways are righteous and true (Deut. 32:4). Cast thy care upon Him who careth for thee (1 Pet. 5:7); and, under every trying event, be still, and know that He is God.
It is truly animating to reflect, that, while everything seems given to change, the Almighty has declared, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). “…I change not…” (Mal. 3:6). The purposes of God are moving steadily and directly towards their fulfillment. Many things, according to our shortsightedness, appear to thwart His designs. Persecutors arise, and cut off His most zealous servants. Death seizes eminent laborers in His vineyard. Unforeseen circumstances spring up, and appear to check the progress of the Gospel. Hence we are ready to exclaim with David, “…Let me not fall into the hand of man” (2 Sam. 24:14). But is not this the language of despondency; the language of a soul looking through a dark and gloomy medium? Man never had, and never shall have, the upper hand.
David was in a right frame when he sang, “…The Lord reigneth…” (Psa. 96:10). This is the triumphant song of the redeemed above. “…Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:6).
Nothing can happen without the divine foreknowledge and permission. The Almighty sees the end from the beginning. Unto Him are known all His works, and all events from eternal ages. He has firmly laid His eternal plans of goodness, justice, and mercy. All things serve Him. He has made “even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4).
Can anything, then, unforeseen, strike across His purposes, or derange His plans? Can any man turn aside the grand machine of providence, whose constant wheels revolve their everlasting rounds? Ah, no! As everything respecting the eternal purposes of God springs from His own will, so everything shall terminate in His own glory. Higher and farther than this, we cannot go. He is “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13).
Clouds and darkness may surround the throne of the Eternal, and veil His bright designs; but faith can pierce the veil, and view beyond this darkening scene, the rising glories of Emmanuel’s kingdom.
The Blessedness of Belief
How great then is the blessedness of true religion! How highly privileged is the child of God! As nothing can happen without the divine permission, so everything shall work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).
Satan may rage, the world may frown, the flesh may rebel, and providence may seem to cross the humble believer; but yet, notwithstanding all this tempest, his soul is safe, being “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). He may “groan, being burdened” (2 Cor. 5:4); yet still he can rejoice. He looks through the curtain of time, which hangs over the glories of eternity; and, in joyful expectation of soon entering within the veil, he endures, with much long-suffering, the trials of this transitory state.
Not so the worldling. He knows no joys but those of sense, or those perhaps of a more refined nature, flowing from intellectual pursuits. But in respect of heavenly pleasures, arising from communion with his Savior, and a delightful foretaste of future bliss, he is an utter stranger. To him, “the future is a dark unknown.”
’Tis true, he prefers heaven to hell, as a choice of two evils; but he secretly disbelieves the Word of revelation, and therefore hopes that hell has no existence, and that death is an eternal sleep. If he be not thus far advanced in infidelity, yet he flatters himself that God will be more lenient and merciful than His own Word declares Him to be. Thus he ventures upon the dreadful step of putting the truth of God to its most awful test, and passes through death to learn by tremendous experience the madness of his unbelief.
Happy, thrice happy is the man who receives with childlike simplicity the Word of God, and acts upon it.
He sees God in everything and can feed upon the hidden manna. He finds the promises to be full of truth and comfort. On them, as on a rock, he rests in safety.
He knows that glorious days are hastening on, and therefore is not discouraged, though they be preceded by a stormy night. He hears the voice of his Almighty Father speaking in gracious accents to allay his fears, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and is kept in perfect peace.
Come then, O my soul, and take courage. Fear not the face nor the frown of man. The Lord reigneth, be the earth ever so unquiet. Sing with David, unite with Luther, and say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1).
Be not dismayed at the troubles of earth. Tremble not at the convulsions of empires. Only fear God; only believe in His promises; only love and serve Him; and all things shall work together for thy good, as they assuredly will for His glory.
Life is hastening quickly away. Eternity is at the door. Live then for eternity, and leave with God the concerns of time. Leave in His hands the safety of His church, and the security of His cause. Cleave to Him with childlike simplicity. Seek His glory. Aim at perfection. Look high, and look forward; and soon thou shalt be removed out of the reach of evil, and be placed securely in the paradise above!
– Condensed from Christian Retirement: or Spiritual Exercises Of The Heart. Thomas Reade (1776 – 1841) was an English layman and author.