I have had a plaque resting over my bedroom door for years. It reads, “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). I am a busy homeschooling mother, and I placed it there as a reminder to myself. When I leave my bedroom every morning, I walk into a day that will be filled with unexpected trials and temptations. The words challenge me to trust God with my day and with whatever may come. My job is only to be still amidst the chaos that awaits me a floor below.
Not long ago, I came across these same words in the book of Exodus. Moses was speaking to terrified people. As the Israelites fled slavery in Egypt, they found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. They were now in a worse situation than they had been as slaves, and it seemed that their demise was imminent.
Reading the words Moses spoke to his fearful people, my heart filled with a renewed hope. For years, I had been meditating on the idea of being still. And for as many years, my heart labored with new anxieties. But here in Exodus, Moses added six little words to that saying I had seen hundreds of times before. He said,
The Lord will fight for you;
you need only to be still.
The Lord will fight for you. These words jumped off the page when I read them. The Lord will fight for you. They gave me a renewed understanding of why I am to be still. I can be still and at peace because the Lord will fight for me. Previously, I had only heard the command, but I was missing the promise. And it was his promise to me, his fearful child.
My heart collapsed in relief. The Lord fights for me. Someone better, stronger, wiser, faithful, and loving was fighting for me. He fights—and so I can rest. He will protect me. He will protect my children. He will fight the effects of the fall that invade my tiny home and heart. This leaves me free to be still.
These truths had also been there all along in Psalm 46. But I had plucked a snippet of truth out and isolated it from the larger and more robust hope the psalmist cast. Here is the fuller passage that leads up to the “be still” verse.
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.” (v. 1–3)
It is the same rationale of Moses’ words in Exodus: God’s power, might, and strength are the reason we can be still, even when waters roar and mountains quake in our lives. Now, instead of looking at my failure to be still, I gaze more and more at the one who promises to fight for me.
This got me thinking about if there are other promises I had skimmed over only to land on the commands. Two came to mind.
“Do not fear.”
That is the command I heard, but it is tied to this beautiful promise:
“…for I am with you” (Isa 41:10)
Here’s another one. “Give thanks to the Lord.”
Again, when I focus only on the command, then I struggle. But my gratitude overflows when I link it with the promise: “…for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Ps 107:1)
I am prone to forget the promises. Will you ask yourself if you are seeing the promises God has made to you? Or are there ways that, like me, you have made the command the only thing you hear?
If we listen closely for his promises, they will become more prominent and he will become more precious.