One of the hardest things for me to do is to stop and be still. My mind is constantly running through conversations, scenarios, and things that I need to do. Even my house is very rarely still. There’s always music or a show on in the background, animals running around, and just the general chaos that comes with life. It feels like stillness is this elusive creature, right up there with happiness and bigfoot in this day and age. And that’s because being still isn’t something that we are; it’s something that we do. It’s a habit that we have to cultivate in our lives through discipline, but the effects of stopping and being still in the presence of the Lord are amazing.
Our souls often feel weary the longer we’re away from God, and there’s a reason for that. We weren’t created to do life on our own; we were created to be beautifully dependent on the Lord. We were made to rest in Him and bask in His glorious character. Resting in Him is what restores our souls and refreshes our spirits. And sometimes, being with Him means that we’re not actually talking to him. We’re just being still in His presence. Psalm 46:10 is one of the most quoted verses about being still and surrendering to the Lord. It says, “Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” And that verse on its own is super lovely, but if we don’t know the context around this verse, we lose the power behind it.
Now Psalms weren’t just written randomly; they were often inspired by the events that were going on in the world at that time. The background of this psalm may be the crisis of 701 BC when God miraculously delivered the city of Jerusalem from the armies of Assyria, which takes place in 2 Kings 18-19. During that time, King Hezekiah ruled over Judah, and he was an extremely righteous and godly man (2 Kings 18:5-7).
But as happened a lot in the Old Testament, nations invaded other nations, and the Assyrians invaded Judah. So the king of Assyria sent some of his officials to talk to King Hezekiah’s officials, and the Assyrians mocked king Hezekiah and the people of Judah for their trust and belief in the Lord. 18:19-20 says, “‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me?”
When we understand who God is, we can be confident that He will prevail over the forces of evil.
This Assyrian official asked a question that we as believers are still faced with today when we are in crisis, “What hope are you relying on?” The Hebrew word for hope here is bittachon which means hope or confidence. And the word for rely on or trust in is batach which means “place one’s confidence in, be secure.” Essentially Judah’s enemies were asking them what on earth could make them think that they could survive an attack from a much mightier nation. When the Assyrian officials finished verbally attacking them, King Hezekiah’s officials returned to him in despair and told him all that had been said.
At this point, anyone would understand if Hezekiah spiralled into fear and anxiety about what he was going to do to save his kingdom. But he didn’t. Instead, King Hezekiah sought out the Lord through the prophet Isaiah. And in 2 Kings 19:5-7, we see the Lord’s reply, “When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’” And that’s precisely what happened. The Lord destroyed half of the Assyrian army, and the other half fled. The king of Assyria was later killed by his sons while worshiping in the temple of their false gods.
When we look at this story, it can be easy to assume King Hezekiah and the Israelites never felt any fear or uncertainty because we knew that God would rescue them. But when you’re right in the middle of battle, it can be hard to believe that anyone, let alone God, will step in to save you. Yet, King Hezekiah took his concerns right to the Lord because he was confident in who God was. He knew the Lord’s character and staked his survival and that of God’s people on it. When we understand who God is, we can be confident that He will prevail over the forces of evil. And the first step in trusting God is believing what He says about Himself. So take some time to get alone with the Lord and be still in His presence. Don’t ask for anything; simply enjoy time spent with your heavenly Father.