I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalms 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

There are few things I hate worse than a Bible verse quoted out of context—or, just as badly, a verse quoted incompletely. The verse above is a good case in point. We often see the first line of this verse—”Be still, and know that I am God”—used on cups and coasters and prints and t-shirts and all sorts of merchandise, and many well-meaning Christians who don’t know their Bibles believe that the first line is all this verse is about. In fact, they read that snippet of this verse and never get around to cracking open their Bible and reading the whole verse, much less the whole psalm. So, before we go any further, please take the time to read Psalms 46. It’s a short psalm, written by the Sons of Korah.

Here is a link to it on BibleGateway.

For those on mobile phones, here’s a better link.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

So often, the first line of this verse is used to justify a waiting and expectant attitude toward God. We tell the Lord and ourselves, “You are God and I am not, so I will be still and let You be God,” and then we wait…and wait…and wait… Now, that’s not necessarily a bad attitude to have—letting God be Lord of our lives, letting Him do what we cannot—but it misses the sense of this psalm and even just this one verse.

In this psalm, the Sons of Korah are reminding us that “The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.” (vv.7,11) And that is a very good thing because God cannot be moved. Though all sorts of calamities befall us, God is our refuge, our help, and His city is a place of peace. The Lord God makes the mountains melt and makes wars cease, so what have we to fear? Look at the language of this psalm, how it is full of chaos and destruction—roaring waters, shaking mountains, raging nations, kingdoms moving (in Hebrew, wavering or slipping). And yet in the midst of this, we have the city of God wherein the Lord Himself dwells, and there is a stream there, and at His voice, all the chaos and wars cease. And then we have our beloved verse in its fullness:

Psalms 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

I cannot read that verse without thinking of another time when one of God’s prophets told us to be quiet and watch what He would do. As the Israelites ran from the Egyptians at the beginning of the Exodus, they came up against the Red Sea and panicked, complaining to Moses that they would have been better off as slaves.

Exodus 14:13-14
13  And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.
14  “The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

And the Lord did something so mighty and inconceivable that even today we still have trouble grasping the enormity of it: God parted the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to pass through on dry ground, and then He wiped out the Egyptian army by allowing the Red Sea to close in on them.

Forty years later, the Lord was preparing to allow the Israelites to finally enter the Promised Land. Under the leadership of Moses and Joshua, a generation had been raised on manna from heaven and tales of the power of the Lord in bringing them out of Egypt, but they themselves had not seen such a thing. The Lord had given the Israelites quite a reputation, and the fear of the Lord was on all the nations who had heard what He had done for His people. The Israelites were a lot more confident, not running for their lives, as they came to the Jordan.

Joshua 3:5
And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”

And Joshua wasn’t kidding! The Lord parted that Jordan River, heaping its waters upstream about 20 miles, and allowed Israel to once again cross over on dry ground. By the time they got to Jericho, the city was shut up tight because the people so feared this people who had the Lord God with them.

In both of those instances, God didn’t just take charge and give the Israelites strength to face their enemies, nor did He give them wisdom to know how to set ambushes or evade enemies. God didn’t just let Israel do something heroic or glorious, HE HIMSELF did something so powerful and huge that there was no mistaking that it was the Lord God of all the earth who was in charge.

Matthew 16:21-23
21  From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22  Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23  But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Too often, we have our eyes set on what men alone can do. We think of evading our enemies or finding a better place to cross a river. We think of just teaching men to be peaceful and good, or we think of doctors finding a cure for disease. We think of hearts reunited in love, and of being saved from poverty by finding a job. We set our minds on the things we men can do, and we are not mindful of God’s power and will. GOD DOESN’T OPERATE SO SMALL!!

Think of it: this is the Lord God who created the heavens and the earth, the God who parted the Red Sea and the Jordan, the God who flooded the earth to purge it of sin, the Lord who stood with Daniel in the lion’s den, who stood with three young Jews condemned to a furnace that was seven times hotter than normal, the God who provided food for a widow through Elijah, who raised up men and women who were dead. This is the Lord who came among us, Emmanuel, and said to dead Lazarus, “Come forth!” This is the Lord God who loves us so much He sent His Son Jesus to die for us on the cross, and He has raised Jesus again into glory for our salvation and eternal life. This is a wonder-working God, a miraculous God. This is El-Shaddai, God Almighty!

God doesn’t just say to us, “Be still, and let Me handle it.” That’s too small!

God says to us, “Be still, and the things I do will cause me to be exalted throughout the earth!”

Simplifying God’s will down to “Just let God be God” is too small, and, to be honest, it is an insult to the God who saves us. He isn’t just going to get us through, He’s going to do something huge and glorious and miraculous! Jesus told us that faith as small as a mustard seed was enough to move mountains! Does that sound like a small God to you? Our God isn’t going to do something only we will notice, something that people can explain away with human endeavor. God will do something that will exalt Him in the eyes of all the world, something that will cause every knee to bow and every tongue confess that He alone is Lord.

So let us exalt Him now, knowing that He dwells in our praises, knowing that He is not only mighty to save, He is mightier than we can even imagine. Let’s stop simply being still and hoping that God will see us through. Let us instead be still and know that He is God, that He will do great and mighty things on behalf of those who love and fear Him, and that He WILL be exalted among all nations for what He has done and will do.

Holy Lord God, we know that You alone are God, so please forgive us for thinking too small. Father, be blessed among the nations. We trust that You will do greater things than we can conceive, that You will do more than simply give us peace in time of turmoil. You will do something fantastic that will bring glory to You alone. Thank You for being our Almighty God. Amen.

About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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