It is easy to become myopic (nearsighted) in one’s view of life. There are the cares and concerns of this world. There are current events and the issues of the day. There is the steady stream of information and news, much of it bad.
However, there is a bigger picture. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of this. God says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).
1. Be still
The Hebrew word is raphah. It has been defined to mean “sink, relax, abate” (BDBG). It is translated different ways by translators of this passage. Some translate it “Be still” (KJV, ASV, NKJV, ESV). Some render it “cease striving” (NASB), or “stop your striving” (NET).
Who is addressed, and what is meant? (1) Some believe that this is addressed to the enemies of Israel. These nations were being told to cease their warring against Israel (cf. Psalm 46:5-6, 8-9). (2) Others, including me, believe that this is addressed to Israel. They were to stay calm and not panic, but trust in the LORD (cf. Psalm 46:3, 5, 7, 11). In times of crisis, we need to stay calm and remember that God is in control. “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
2. Know that I am God
Israel needed to keep God before their eyes. In context, they were to consider what He had done in the past (cf., Psalm 46:6, 8). Moreover, the writer affirmed that God was with them (cf. Psalm 46:7, 11).
In times of crisis, do not forget God. Remember the big picture. Continue to trust Him. “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6 cf. Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; Psalm 118:6). “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Leroy Brownlow has written on Psalm 46. He said, “Though the earth gets bumped out of orbit and spins endlessly through space, though the mountains be carried and dumped into the seas. We will not fear. When everything is stripped from us (mate, child, career, health), when life gets as bad as it can be, when times are as tough as they can get – we have a refuge, a strength, we have God! While we must never forget that God is our refuge, we must firmly believe that he is my God, my strength, my helper. Unless the promises of God become personal to me, they lose their power for me. With these assurances, maybe we can stop relying so heavily on earth-made tranquilizers and trust more on heaven made tranquility” (Leroy Brownlow, A Psalm In My Heart, Psalm 46:1).
3. I Will Be Exalted
Twice this is stated in the verse. First, He says that He will be exalted among the nations. Then, He says that He will be exalted in the earth. This is parallelism
What is the meaning? Albert Barnes suggests, “The defeat of the armies of Sennacherib were eminently fitted to make a deep impression on the world that the true God of the Hebrew people was the true God” (Barnes Notes, Psalms Vol. 2, p. 45). The ESV Study Bible suggests, “He will indeed see to it that the mission of Genesis 12:1-3 is accomplished.” Likely, this does refer to God’s work which will exalt or glorify His name on the earth.
However, we should seek to be instruments through which He is glorified on earth (Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 10:31; Philippians 1:20; 1 Peter 2:11-12). Even in times of crisis, this should be our desire. We have a work, a purpose, to be accomplished in life. May we remember the big picture.