When I was little, I remember a program on television called “Be still, and know.” It was one of those Sunday religious programs that stations felt obligated to broadcast in those days. I don’t recall if I ever watched it all the way through, but I do remember the dramatic opening. Part of my daily devotion is to read the psalter through in sequence (separate from the readings appointed for the Daily Office). I read a page or two or sometimes three. I will read from the Book of Common Prayer one time and the next I will read from the Bible. Anyway, today I was reading Psalm 46 and there at verse ten was the line Be still, and know that I am God, and I recalled the tv show of my youth.
As I am thinking of this “be still” command, I am also thinking of the wonderful contemplative eucharist that I frequently take part in at Grace Cathedral. In the huge Nob Hill house of worship, we gather in silence and have a moment or two to be still.
Actually the psalm isn’t speaking of silence or the lack of motion. The word translated “be still” from the Hebrew is raphah. It refers to that which is slack or to be disheartened or weak. Remember the song Jesus Loves Me? There is a line that says we are weak but He is strong. Sadly, there are those who are far from “still”- they “do all the work” and give God none of the credit. They believe that by “lifting up their hands” and by “taking courage,” they can survive and thrive by the sweat of their own brow. THEY did it and GOD had nothing to do with it.
If we follow this command though, “be still”—forces us to think about two things: that we are finite, and that God is infinite. That being the case, we need to drop our hands, go limp, relax, and “chill out.” Christian people ought to “come, behold the works of Jehovah,” that we may enjoy a calm confidence in him who gave us his Son.
In serenity we can do that. In the quiet stillness of Grace Cathedral, I will think on that tonight. I will be still (both meanings) and I will KNOW that He is God. Amen.