|Have you ever felt surrounded by life’s problems and demands–hard-pressed on all sides, encircled by stressful situations, chaos, noise & temptations–weak & defeated by a sickness, chronic health issue or watching a loved one suffer? Or perhaps you’re just tired of this fallen world and feeling a bit hopeless. Well, if any of these sounds familiar to you then you’re not alone and may be a candidate to join the BE STILL MOVEMENT. I say that tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, Hurry up & Be Still because time in this present world is short!
Back in the 14th year of King Hezekiah’s reign, the Israelites were surrounded on all sides by a formidable enemy. Many may be familiar with the Scripture verse, “Be Still and know that I am God” from Psalm 46. But most (including myself prior to studying this Psalm in depth) may not be aware of the history behind it. You see this Psalm (& the closely connected 47 & 48) are a trilogy of praise for special deliverance of Jerusalem from a foreign invasion. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and started overtaking them (Isaiah 36-37, 2 Chron. 32, 2 Kings 18-19). He was on a campaign that had swept the land, city after city falling into his hands. Jerusalem seemed about to share the same fate, for the Assyrian armies were encamped around it. On approach of the Assyrian hosts, to fortify the city, Hezekiah, consulted with his leaders & commanders. It was decided to have weapons & shields made in abundance & set military captains over the people. They rebuilt the broken wall & raised it up to the towers and erected another wall outside and repaired Millo in the city of David (the Millo, or filling up: i.e. of the valley between Moriah & Jebus). They also went about concealing the external approach & outlets that transported the water from the only spring (the Gihon) in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem (See note below**). Lastly Hezekiah encouraged the people to be strong and courageous & not be afraid for the LORD their God was with them to help fight their battles (2 Chron. 32:3-8).
Sennacherib was not going to let up. He began a verbal & written campaign, by sending his henchmen to boast against the Lord which included loud speeches in the Hebrew language to scare and trouble the Jewish people that were on the wall. No relief or deliverance was to be expected or possible unless God should intervene. It wasn’t until King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed and cried out to God (2 Kings 19:15-34, 2 Chron. 32:20-22, Isa. 37:15-20) that the Lord sent his angel into the camp of the Assyrians, killing 185,000. Sennacherib left and returned to his home, remaining at Nineveh where it came to pass that while he was worshiping in the temple of his god, his sons used a sword to slay him (2 Kings 19:35-37).
Psalm 46 begins with “God is our refuge (to where one flees) and strength, a very present (near) help in trouble.” It continues, “Therefore we will not fear” (even if all is falling away around us–even if the waters are roaring and are troubled–even if the mountains are shaking with its swelling) (Ps. 46:1-3). Then there is a “Selah” or a pause which is to point out to us the contrast between the rage of the enemy (which is compared to an overwhelming flood) and the silent, secret purposes of God (which were working to overthrow them– vs. 4-6). These secret purposes are compared to the silent, secret, underground rock-cut channels of water (See note below***), which were ministering comfort and joy to the besieged, while they were hidden (as God’s purposes were) from the besiegers outside the city. The promise which had been given by Jehovah through Isaiah came to pass that night (2 Kings 19:31-35, Isa. 37:35-36) and brings us to the next “Selah” or pause that comes between verses 7 & 8, connecting God’s promised deliverance (in v. 5) & the assured confidence in the promise (v.7), with its realization in the actual deliverance of Zion from the enemy. This pause compels one to take notice that by means small, secret, and silent (as those rock-cut channels) God can still the roaring and ragings of the nations– even to the ends of the earth. The past deliverance has its lesson for the present and future–God is faithful to His promises (Ps. 33:11, Heb. 10:23). One can “Be Still” (Heb. “rapha”-cease your efforts) & know that He is God.
Whenever I feel anxious or even think of relying on my own strength, I turn to read chapters 38-39 of Job or Ps. 33, as these & other Scriptures help remind me that I can (& should) cease from my efforts, be still and trust in The One Who spoke the world into being, calmed the seas, and resurrected Jesus Christ to life (Gen. 1, Ps. 33:6, Matt. 8:26, Eph. 1:20). God works in ways that are mysterious & beyond our comprehension (Deut. 29:29, Isa. 55:8-9) but He IS the calm beneath the raging storm. He IS the refuge from the enemy that is surrounding (Eph. 6:10-17, Col. 3:3). Even though we are hard-pressed on every side, perplexed, persecuted & struck down. We are not crushed, in despair, forsaken & destroyed and will not lose heart. Even though our outward is perishing, our inward is being renewed day by day (in His strength) and we will look to the things which are unseen & eternal rather than the raging storm & enemy that is seen (2 Cor. 4:7-10, 16-18). We have been delivered from the powers of darkness & seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus (Col. 1:13, Eph. 2:6). We can faithfully stand & withstand in the strength of His might when we are hid in the armor of Christ Jesus Himself with His shield ready to extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one (Col. 3:3, Eph. 6:10-18).
So Hurry up & Be Still and join the Movement. You can have peace amidst the raging storm when your mind is fixed on Him (Isa. 26:3, 2 Tim. 1:7, Prov. 3:5-8, Eph. 6:15). Love in Christ, Laura
**Interesting side note: This was the same site where Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed (Gen. 22:2) and where David overtook the Jebusites shortly after he was proclaimed king over Israel & thus called it the city of David (2 Sam. 5:6-9, 1 Chron. 11:5-8). This area was where the 1st/original temple was built by Solomon and the same wall continued by him, afterward by Hezekiah & extended by Manasseh (2 Chron. 3:1-17, 33:14; 1 Kings 9:15, 24, 11:27).
***Interesting side note: A slab of rock from the rock hewn water tunnel/conduit, with ancient Hebrew inscription that records the completion of the tunnel, was discovered by Sir Charles Warren in 1867 (& now dubbed “Warren’s Shaft”). The Altar of Burnt Offering is shown on the site of “The Sacred Stone” which is exactly under the center of the present Moslem Sanctuary over it, known as “The Dome of the Rock”. This is the traditional site of David’s altar on “the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.”