Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Be Still and Know

Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.
—Psalm 46:10

I have always imagined that everyone is being addressed by the words, "Be still, and know that I am God." And if this is the case, it's a fine message. In the midst of my fevered days and fast-paced life, true meaning is found in quiet and prayer and acknowledging that God is the Creator and I am but a creature.

But Calvin reminds me of the actual context of this verse, which is warfare and strife—the kind of strife that only God has the power to end. And in that context, "Be still, and know that I am God," has a different emphasis—namely that God is speaking to those who prey upon the people of God.

"In doing injury to the saints they do not consider that they are making war against God. Imagining that they have only to do with mortals, they presumptuously assail them, and therefore the prophet here represses their insolence; and that his address may have the more weight, he introduces God himself as speaking to them."

In this day and age, I believe we must apply Calvin's interpretation to a situation in which those with money and power and influence use their vast resources to inflict pain on the least among us—the sick, the underprivileged, the immigrant, the homeless child—for all these are currently under attack. Never have Walt Kelly's words in the Pogo comic strip (1970) been more true than they are at this moment in the USA: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heat of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm. Amen.
—John Greenleaf Whittier