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Psalm 46: 9-10( NIV) says:

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

In first appearance, God wants us to be calm and silent while praying. But given that Verse 9 speaks of cessation of war, Verse 10 appears to hold larger interpretations. My question is: What are the interpretations of the phrase "Be still" ?

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I'll first quote different commentaries then summarize with some of my thoughts on the commentaries below:

"Be still"

Psalm 46:10 New King James Version

10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Matthew Poole's Commentary

  1. To the Israelites,

Be still, i.e. Do you henceforth silently and quietly wait upon me without fear or diffidence. Or rather,

  1. To the heathen, who had raged, Psalm 46:6; and therefore now he seasonably admonisheth them to be still, and to stir no more against God’s people.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

"Stand still, and see the salvation of God." In this place the word seems to be used as meaning that there was to be no anxiety; that there was to be a calm, confiding, trustful state of mind in view of the displays of the divine presence and power. The mind was to be calm, in view of the fact that God had interposed, and had shown that he was able to defend his people when surrounded by dangers. If this the divine interposition when Jerusalem was threatened by the armies of the Assyrians under Sennacherib, the force and beauty of the expression will be most clearly seen.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Be still, &c.—literally, "Leave off to oppose Me and vex My people. I am over all for their safety." (Compare Isa 2:11; Eph 1:22).

Gill's Exposition

Be still, and know that I am God,.... These words are thought by some to be spoken by the Lord to the nations of the world, to "cease from war", as the Targum renders the words;...

Pulpit Commentary

As a general rule, God requires man to cooperate with him. "We are fellow-workers with God." "Aide-toi, le ecel t'aidera." But there are occasions when man must stand aloof, and all must be left to the almighty Disposer of all things.

Geneva Study Bible

Be {i} still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (i) He warns them who persecute the Church to cease their cruelty: for also they will feel that God is too strong for them against whom they fight.

  1. Be silent and quiet before God. (Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. We are encouraged to quiet our minds and hearts, and to find peace and rest in God's presence.)
  2. An invitation to trust in God's power. (His sovereignty. Have confidence in God's ability and protection.)
  3. Cease fighting against God's will. (Surrender control. Allow God to work in our lives without resistance.)
  4. A call to cease from war.
  5. Pause. (Wait on God. Reflect and meditate on God's character, His promises, and His works.)
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    Good compilation, Jason-.Hope you can quote the source of the first set of comments. Stay blessed. Commented Feb 14 at 8:32
  • Ahh, apologies that I was unclear. I was summarizing with my own thoughts (for clarity sake) what I gathered from the different commentaries before quoting them!
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 14 at 8:44
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    @Jason It appears to me that when Barnes puts "If this the divine interpretation when Jerusalem..." should read "In this ..".
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Feb 14 at 10:53
  • @C.Stroud I agree that it seems odd. I reviewed it, but it seems to be written that way, at least on the online version I used. It could be a typo.
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 14 at 16:46
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What Naomi says to Ruth regarding Boaz about "sitting still" is a good lesson in having faith, which correlates with the answer that @Jason_ gave regarding God addressing Israel (and us today):

Ruth 3:18

"Then said she, Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day."

Also, when the Egyptian army was approaching Israel at the Red Sea, God (through Moses) did not tell them to be afraid or to turn and fight:

Exodus 14:13

"And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever."

Just as Ruth was to be still with faith in Boaz "finishing the thing this day", and Israel being still by having faith in God's protection, we too are to be still with faith in Jesus Christ and the work that He alone also finished for us. We 'sit still' and find true peace knowing that the work that God required was perfect and complete by Jesus Christ and through His shed blood on our behalf. Jesus Christ was the sufficient payment that was accepted by God as confirmed in His resurrection on day three.

Romans 4:3-5

"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

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