"Be still, and know that I am God!" - Psalm 46:10
What a gem of a verse. So contemplative, so peaceful, so spiritual! What religious entrepreneur could resist turning it into a cross-stitch wall hanging or engraving it on a piece of wood and selling them in Christian bookstores for $29.99 each; the perfect addition to countless living rooms across the country… including mine.
It’s right there on the mantle.
As lovely and important as verse 10 is, let’s not overlook verses 8 and 9:
Come, behold the works of [God]; see what desolations [God] has brought on the earth.
[God] makes wars cease to the end of the earth; [God] breaks the bow,
And shatters the spear; [God] burns the shields with fire.
Sure those verses are less "living room worthy" but they are worthy of the living God who wages war on the machinery of war, both the tools of offense (bows and spears) and defense (shields). If this scripture was written today it would include guns, patriot missiles, drones and nukes.
Violence is a tragic form of practical atheism even among believers. Violence says, "God is not moving fast enough to eliminate my obstacles and enemies so I’m going to have to step in and take the wheel." This is what makes religiously motivated violence an obscene contradiction. If we really believe God is great and all powerful, why does God need us to play the heavy?
And what about you? How will you turn away from war and practice peace today? How will you lay down your sword and shield, put aside your compulsion to thrust your agenda forward or raise up your shield of defensiveness? How will you be still and know that God is God so you don’t have to be?
Help me to be still and know that you are still God.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.