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What Does “Be Still and Know” Actually Mean?

Have you ever heard the phrase “Be still and know”? Maybe this is your first time hearing it. Or, chances are, if you’ve been a Christian a while or gone to church many times, you’ve heard it mentioned often. Maybe you even have a mug with this phrase on it! But what does it actually mean?

It comes from Psalm 46:10, where God tells His people,

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

In this post, we’ll unpack Psalm 46 to discover what it really means to be still and know—and how this well-known verse can encourage us, no matter what we’re going through.

Psalm 46: Be Still and Remember Who Our God Is

War. Loss. Disappointment. Rejection. Depression. Unknowns. Conflict. Sickness.

Whatever it looks like in our lives, all of us have experienced hardship. For some of us, it may even seem that trials, rather than joys, have dominated our entire lives.

The sons of Korah, who wrote Psalm 46, pictured ultimate devastation as a mighty earthquake and a great flood. Yet they affirmed that God remains an anchor in any storm, a rock in every disaster:

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah.

Psalm 46:1–3

God is first pictured as a refuge—a shelter or fortress. Even when chaos seems to reign all around, God’s people can rest in Him. He is our refuge. Notice that a refuge implies no action on our part! When we take refuge, we are still and trust that God shelters us from harm.

God is also our strength. Rather than trust in our own abilities to withstand life’s storms, we can be still and know that the Lord is God by acknowledging Him as our strength when life is hectic, difficult, or heartbreaking.

Verses 4 and 5 continue,

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.

Psalm 46:4–5

God is our help—as verse 1 put it, “very present help in trouble.”In this verse, God is pictured as dwelling among His people. Because He is always nearby, He is always available to help.

Today, we know that as believers in Christ, God’s Spirit dwells within us. He is always with us—which means that He is always ready, able, and willing to help us. The night will not last forever—morning will dawn, and God will lead us into His light. We can be still and know that no matter how dark life becomes, we are not alone.

Verses 6–7 go on:

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

Psalm 46:6–7

While the world’s strongest nations and kingdoms seem formidable in our eyes at times, verses 6-7 illustrate the truth: God is stronger than any empire! He is the King, reigning over all. He is the Lord of hosts—the God of angel armies—who is with us, our fortress in any fight we face. Once again, we see that to be still and know means to trust and rest in God, who defends and protects us.

Verses 8–11 call out an invitation:

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.

Psalm 46:8–11

Again, we see an emphasis in this psalm on God’s works, not our own. Again, we see that to be still and know means to trust that God will fight our battles, protect us from harm, and lead us to victory. Believing that He will ultimately be glorified as the one true God, exalted in all the earth, we rest in Him—safe in His loving care.

Whether we’re facing small, day-to-day trouble or huge, earth-shattering trouble, Psalm 46 encourages us to be still and know that the Lord is God. He is our refuge, our strength, our help, and our sovereign King. He is always with us and ready to help us.

What would it look like for you to rest in this truth? What would it look like for you to be still and know today?

Join the 7-Day Be Still and Know Challenge!

Anxious? Stressed out? Being pulled in too many directions?

What if you committed to spend seven days intentionally focused on being still and remembering who our God is—and what that means for your actual life?

When you join the 7-Day Be Still and Know Challenge, you’ll receive an email to your inbox every day for seven days with a biblical truth to ponder, a prayer prompt, and how to put the day’s challenge into practice. Each day will help you rest in God, our refuge.

Sign up for this challenge and start resting in the Lord more today!

Bible Study Challenge – Be Still and Know

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