Summary: No matter how bad seems to be getting in the world that surrounds us, we (Christians) can remain at peace knowing that our God reigns.
Be Still; God Reigns
Most scholars believe this psalm was composed in the aftermath of God’s delivering the Israelites from Sennacherib’s army. This deliverance occurred after the siege of Jerusalem that ended when the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” took its starting point from this mighty, moving Hebrew song that proclaims the sufficiency of God from the crises of life. This robust psalm, defiant of God’s enemies, moved beyond the local situation that may have inspired it, to universal principles. It’s great value, however, is the word it speaks to individuals to have faith in God’s protecting hand and ample resources. It proclaims the ascendancy of God in three areas.
I. God has power over the forces of nature (vv. 1-3)
Because communication technology is so advanced, news of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and other tragedies reach our ears instantly.
We live in the face of grim reality, often seeing innocent people victimized by these terrible events.
a. Yet God has ultimate control of these forces.
i. He limits them, allowing them to go so far and no farther.
ii. The important fact is that with God in our hearts, we can face even the possibility of world catastrophe with firm faith.
iii. Sometimes he spares his children, but sometimes they too must suffer or even die.
b. God’s children must not surrender their faith when they confront a tragedy they cannot understand or explain.
i. Every person will, at some time, have an experience in which all the elements seem to combine to overwhelm him.
ii. We must learn, with God’s help, to endure with dogged persistency.
iii. Continued faith will produce courage.
iv. God controls this world and will never turn it over to evil or chance.
II. God has power over those who attach his strongholds (vv. 4-7)
These verses refer to the city of Jerusalem, God’s citadel, where his temple was.
In it were the religious symbols that had served as a unifying force for the nation.
a. Through they have their shortcomings, the institutions of religious faith are important.
i. They contain the depository of religious customs through the centuries.
ii. God protects his citadels.
iii. When some phase of institutional life needs to be destroyed, God is equal to the occasion.
iv. When, however, it needs only to be corrected and then protected, he is also equal to that task.
b. God protects his Word, the Bible
i. How else can one explain its existence when so many have sought to destroy it throughout the centuries?
ii. God’s people need to trust him, continuing to believe in the integrity of his Word.
III. God has control over the whole warring world (vv. 8-11)
What does a Christian do when he sees the nations of the world moving toward what seems to be an inevitable war that will bring universal destruction to the human race?
a. The psalmist says, “He makes wars to cease” in verse 9, and of course this is true.
i. Yet wars continue to arise.
ii. Christians must realize peace can come only when people have peace in their hearts, and this comes only through Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
iii. Thus, when we take the message of Jesus to the lost, we are doing the one thing that must have priority in all our service.
iv. We must, however, cooperate with all those who are seeking to promote peace, as long as we can do so without compromising our Christian convictions.
1. Finally, however, we must live an attitude of trust, doing all that we can do but leaving the rest in God’s hands.
2. This is what the Lord meant when he said through the psalmist, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
When the psalmist said, “Be Still,” he was, in a sense, speaking comfort to he harassed, but he had another audience in mind. His message was for the restless and turbulent world. His statement was more than mere assurance to God’s people: he wanted to make it clear that God’s glory would be manifested.
When the forces of evil have done everything they can to oppose God, he will stand victorious. Since this is true, his people can rejoice and be happy. If God be for us, who can be against us?