“Be still and know that I am God,” is one of the most well known and beloved Bible verses for many. I was surprised to know the meaning of the words be still (particularly in the New Testament) and believe it will surprise you too.
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The words be still in the English dictionary can mean not moving, and being quiet. From a biblical perspective, these two words take on much greater meaning.
Meaning One: Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
The first meaning comes from the Old Testament and the verse from Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. God is defending His city and people. The Hebrew definition is to stop striving, to let go, surrender. The chapter begins and ends with God is our refuge.
We can take comfort in letting go and resting in God to provide help, strength and safety.
Meaning Two: Peace! Be still! Mark 4:39
A sermon at church focused on the passage from Mark, Chapter 4, where Jesus uses the words, “Peace, be still!” (The exclamation point is there for a reason.) I was surprised and actually had to laugh when our pastor illustrated the literal meaning of be still.
The story is also told in Matthew and Luke which portrays an extremely busy day where Jesus was healing people, casting out demons and speaking. While the scripture doesn’t say this, the picture is painted that Jesus was exhausted and overwhelmed. He requested a boat to escape the crowds that were coming to him.
On the journey, a huge storm rolled in. The disciples were afraid for their lives. They looked for Jesus to help them and found him fast asleep from exhaustion. They were terrified because of the storm and woke Jesus up. According to Mark’s account, Jesus was not happy. In his frustration he yelled, “Peace, Be Still!” The storm and the huge waves stopped immediately. The literal translation of, be still, taken from the Greek, is: Hush! And in modern terms: Shut Up!
Another pastor I met told me about that translation and used the analogy of the proverbial, family road trip. You know the one, with the kids in the back seat saying, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” The answer, of course, is be still or hush!
How often do we ask God for everything, but we don’t stop to listen or to be still? The act of being still and getting quiet becomes more of a challenge in our hectic world. The world asks us to be busy. God asks us to be still so that we can receive love, peace and guidance.
Along with busyness comes the fearful and anxious thoughts we hold onto. It’s been stated that we have upwards of 50,000 thoughts a day. Those thoughts aren’t always pretty. You know the ones, I can’t believe I messed up, I’m an idiot, I can’t do it, It’s too hard, I’m a failure, I’m a fraud, I’m too old, I’m too young…..
We must learn to tell our fearful and anxious thoughts to shut up, just as Jesus calmed the sea. Jesus immediately asked the question to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Have you so little faith?”
Quieting the mind, shutting up the mind requires practice. One powerful way to shut up thoughts that don’t serve us is by practicing meditation.
For whatever reason, meditation has not been a mainstay of traditional Christian, religious organizations. Prayer and Bible reading are encouraged as well as the occasional mention of contemplative prayer, but not so much meditation. Jesus, John the Baptist and others went off to meditate and to take themselves away from the hectic world.
Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Meditation helps to renew the mind, to be still, to let go and surrender, to shut up the thoughts that do not serve us.
Many people are intimidated by silence. Silence can cause you to address issues that you might be running from. It’s easy to fill each day with busyness and then block out concerns through hours of mind-numbing television viewing, Internet surfing or reading magazines. None of these activities are bad. However, if they are used to fill a void that is not being filled, over time, the toll will manifest itself in the form of lost relationships, lost opportunities and lost dreams never being fulfilled.
The next time you have fearful and anxious thoughts that are raging within you like a violent storm, do as Jesus did. Silence those thoughts by saying, “Peace, be still.” When you need strength and help, let go and rest in God, your refuge. “Be still and know that I am God.”
It’s not easy to be still in our fast-paced culture. The Be Still meditation CD or digital downloads will help. Listen to a sample and read what others have experience through this meditation using Psalm 46:10. Books and meditations are available at the Joy and Flow Store.
If you enjoyed this post, you can receive a short message of encouragement and inspiration along with a Bible verse each Monday to meditate on throughout the week.