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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!” - Psalm 46:10

For quite some time, I wrongly believed this verse was a call to quiet my life and soul, to reject the world’s busyness, so that I may more fully know God. And, perhaps, there is a great deal of truth in such a premise, but as my seminary professor always liked to say, “right doctrine/belief, wrong text.” As I began to read the context around the verse, the entirety of Psalm 46, I noticed these poetic verses speak out of a troubled, perilous, and war-torn world, a tumultuous world created both by the evils of the earth and those of humanity. Verse 10, then, is not so much about quieting our inner-soul, as it is a call to place our confidence in the Lord amidst a dark and oftentimes terrifying world, to stop tarrying about like the rest of the fear-plagued world, and trust that all of history is moving toward God’s intended end, namely an entire created order singing His praise and honor (v. 10b).

This is the situation in which Israel found herself as the small nation fled the tyranny of Egypt in Exodus 14. If you remember, Israel came to the great Sea, a massive body of water much too wide and deep to simply cross by foot. As they turned and lifted their eyes to the horizon behind them, their hearts were struck with fear by an Egyptian army of horses and chariots. An army, as large and fierce as the world had ever known, was quickly drawing near to devour this nearly defenseless nation. The waters raged in front of them, and the armies of a great nation raged behind. They were pinned down. There seemed to be no way out. As hope fled the hearts of the Israelites, Moses’ voice pierced through the heavy air, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13,14). Moses didn’t call Israel to pick up their weapons and prepare to fight. He didn’t call them to flee for their lives through the wilderness. The call wasn’t to trust in the nation’s strength or wit. It was a call to refrain from anxiously tarrying about, as other fear-stricken nations might, and to simply stand firm, watching as the Lord provided for their salvation. Moses’ call was for a rightly placed confidence in the Lord, just as it is in Psalm 46:10.

Perhaps no other situation serves as a better litmus test for the locale of our confidence as one marked by real trouble and peril. What have the dark seasons in your past, or perhaps the one you’re struggling through even now, revealed about the object(s) of your confidence? Does trouble and peril produce fear in you, forcing you to scurry about, anxiously trusting the devices of this world to provide for your salvation? Or does the darkness reveal in you a confidence in the One who reigns over the entire cosmos, who supremely demonstrated His power and faithfulness in and through the life and work of Christ? As we take time to reflect in this season of prayer and fasting, may the words of the Psalmist ring all the more true in us, namely that we would “be still and know that He is God.”
Justin Doyle
Ministry Fellow at Brown
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