How often is the thought of God before our minds? How often in our busy lives do we take time out to contemplate God? God controls the affairs of this world. Nothing happens in the nations by chance. God controls all of creation—the movings of the earth, the vast domain of outer space. God controls our individual lives to the smallest of details. Man is so puny, so small in the sight of God. All the nations together are as a drop on the edge of the bucket. Isaiah tells us that if all men together were weighed they would be lighter than the dust on the balance. In comparison to God, man is less than dust. He is nothing! Yet, how much time does man take to think of that God? The wicked man of this earth is repelled at the thought of God. He avoids thinking about God as much as possible. It is only when he is forced to his knees by oppression and desolation that he will turn to God. But even we who have been touched by God’s grace in our lives, how often do we take time out in our lives to think about God?
Not only has God done great things in His providence in this world, but God has done great things from a spiritual point of view for His people as well. All things, our lives, creation, the history of this world, even redemption in Jesus Christ, center in and revolve around God’s glory! Certainly, much more time must be spent by us beholding our God! You can be assured that when Judah was pitted against an army three times her size, God had her attention! Where else could she turn! In that context the words of Psalm 46 were written. Psalm 46:8-11 reads: “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be exalted in the earth!” What powerful words God speaks to His church here. On the one hand, we cower before the thought of God who holds the power of life and death in His hand. But, on the other hand, God’s people rejoice because the God who saves us in Christ speaks these words. Our God is the God of our salvation. He is powerful against our enemies! He saves His church! With fear and trembling, yet with joy and gladness, we contemplate these words of the psalmist.
I. Behold My Works
At the outset the psalmist commands us to come before God. “Come and behold.” In humble obedience we come to stand before God. We do not hold back out of fear or for other reasons. We come before the mighty God of heaven and earth to behold His works. When we do, we may not simply look at those works of God in a disinterested or disconnected manner. We enter into God’s presence to examine, analyze, and meditate upon His works. Jehovah is calling for our attention! “Come, O little man, and behold my works!” Then we behold.
What do we behold? Everything! Look at the world of nature—the universe, the earth, the oceans, the mountains—all the works of God’s hands. All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small—all the works of God’s hands. There is not one thing that exists except by the hand of God! Look at man himself. Psalm 139:13, 14: “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. All creatures are the works of God’s hands!” OK, God is great! He is Creator and we are creatures of His hands.
But, let us not stop our contemplation so quickly. This same God governs and guides all the creatures of His hand! Not a hair can fall from our head without His sovereign will! Nothing happens in this world or in our lives by chance. We ascribe nothing at all to luck. God leads and guides all creatures—even man himself—to the fulfillment of His own sovereign good pleasure! True, God stands infinitely above His creation as God, but that does not mean that God removes Himself from creation. Everything that takes place here God providentially guides and controls to the accomplishment of His purpose.
But there is more we must behold.
God desires us to behold in particular “what desolations he has made in the earth.” The psalmist desires that we examine the terrible power of God! Our God is arrayed in dignity and awful might. His majesty shines forth and His glory burns brightly! Oh, that men would truly come and behold God! Perhaps then they would serve Him as they ought: acceptably, with reverence and godly fear! That God is terrible in His works means that His works excite extreme alarm and intense fear. Is this not true when we contemplate the desolations God has made in the earth? Desolations are great and horrible catastrophes in creation. When God unleashes His power in creation men cringe and quail before Him. When man stands before the fury of the winds of a hurricane or a tornado, he flees for refuge. He fears for his life. Even unbelievers cry out and make prayer to God. When God walked across Florida recently in Hurricane Ian, our country stood still and watched in awe at the power God unleashed in this hurricane. When men stand before a wall of water sweeping though their fields and down their streets, they are filled with alarm and implore the mercy of the great God who controls these things. Come and behold what desolations God has made in the earth. These are His works! Do not deny it! Do not rob God of His power. God sends desolations! Neither does man himself stand outside the realm of God’s sovereign rule over His creation. God directs the raging of wicked men, we learn in Psalm 2. When men go out to war, God is in control of that war and its outcome. He controls the armies of men. He controls the decisions of kings, dictators, presidents, and rulers.
No doubt the men of Judah sang this song with luster! Did they not know that Jehovah God raised up the armies of Edom, Ammon, and Moab against them? God sends the great destruction and death of war! Mighty cities are destroyed, men’s hearts swelling with anger and hatred. War is terrible and the desolations it brings are terrible too! But even as God sends wars, so also God sends peace. Nor may this side of God’s power be ignored by us as we behold our God. We read in verse 9 of Psalm 46 that God makes wars to cease, He breaks the bow, cuts the spear, and burns the chariot. The bow, spear, and chariot were all weapons of war used in the days of Israel. All these God breaks and burns so that even the end of war is brought about by God! God sends war, but God also sends peace. Nothing stands outside the bounds of His sovereign rule! Come now and behold these works of God! We do not look at them through the eyes of unbelief and rebel as so many do. Unbelief manifests itself in so many different ways when it beholds God’s works.
There are those who refuse to come and behold. They dwell in darkness and refuse even to consider that all things take place by God. This world develops by chance and everything in it by natural laws, they say—but there is no God in it all. Others ignore the Bible and make up their own idol god who does not sovereignly control all things. Certainly, the desolations we see in the earth do not fall under God’s control, they say. The bad things of this world would not be under God’s control because God is a God of love and He would not send these things!
Then, who, pray tell, is in control of them and who sends them? Satan? Oh yes, they will answer, that wicked Satan! Only he would do such horrible things! But under whose control is Satan? God does not have control of Satan? Satan acts outside of God’s control? Then Satan must also be God! He must also have power equal to that of God and therefore must be God too—and not a creature of God’s hand. But, Satan is a creature—an angel whom God created to do His will but who has fallen from his high estate and become evil. Yet a creature who is subservient to his Creator. We might ask, does Satan perform his dastardly deeds only by God’s permission, though God does not approve of them? We could say that from a certain point of view. At the same time it is equally true that if God is in control of Satan, He could stop Satan. The fact the Psalmist explains is that God sends such desolations in the earth. And He does it because He alone is God.
We are called, fellow believers, to come before Jehovah God and behold His works through the eyes of faith. Come and believe! Believe that these things that take place in this world do not take place by chance! God is in control. He rules over all creatures, and nothing therefore escapes His will! Stand before God and believe. Then worship this God with reverence and godly fear! If He is our refuge, then what reason have we to fear what happens in this world? This God is for us and not against us. If He is for us, nothing in this whole world can be against us! Mingled with our godly fear therefore is the greatest of all joys! We believe in this God because He is the God of our salvation! He has delivered His people from all punishment in the blood of Jesus Christ. He has made them into His very own children. Believers are members of His family. We have no need to fear for our safety or our welfare. God who controls all things, even the desolations of this earth, will care for us. Have you come into the presence of God? Are you looking at Him?
II. I Will Be Exalted
Then listen to what God tells us: “I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth!” God speaks here! Do you hear Him? Are you listening as well as seeing? “I will be exalted in the earth—even among the heathen I will be exalted.” To be exalted means to be raised to a higher level of honor and glory than all else, to be elevated above others, held in the highest esteem and honor! Praised, revered, worshiped. Well, we know that God is exalted among His people. We hold our God in the highest esteem and praise and honor Him. We believe in Him. But how is it that God will be exalted in the whole earth? Or more, how is this true among the heathen of this world? The heathen of this world hate God. They would never honor and worship Him. Everywhere we turn, the unbeliever attempts to rob God of His glory and to serve anything and anyone but God. The evolutionist would oust God from this creation. He succeeded in convincing this unbelieving world that there is no God. This creation came about on its own. It evolved naturally through various events that had nothing at all to do with a God. God is not Creator before whom all creatures must bow. Elaborate theories, all based upon unbelief, are spun to explain this and that. There is no thought of God before the eyes of the heathen. How, in light of all this, is God exalted in the earth? How is he exalted among the heathen?
In fact, it seems that the cause and kingdom of God is largely suffering in the earth! Because the heathen, the wicked, hate God, they hate His church too! They hate God’s cause wherever it is even slightly represented. The wicked are openly attacking Christians who stand up for their faith. From a human point of view they have backed the true church of Christ in this world into a corner, it seems. Teach your children the faith and you are guilty of brain-washing your child, condemn fornication and such like gross sins and you are judgmental. The cause of Christ does not flourish. It languishes! How is it, then, that God will be exalted in the earth? We would delight in that, because then we with Him would be exalted! But this is not the case. Nor does it seem as if it ever will be the case.
But let us not be deceived by outward appearances. God is in control, remember! God is directing the affairs of this earth! God even directs the wicked in its attacks on the church. In that sense of the word, God already is exalted! God has placed upon His holy throne Jesus Christ. Christ has accomplished God’s purpose in the salvation of His church! Through that death and resurrection of Christ, He has been exalted at God’s right hand. Christ rules in the heavens on God’s behalf. It may appear as if the earth is filled with contempt for God and Christ. But we remember that the earth is the Lord’s. Christ rules over all the earth. God is exalted in the very person of His Son, who even now rules in the heavens! Even now God sits in the heavens and laughs, we read in Psalm 2! God laughs at the puny attempts of man to break out from under God’s rule. Man may be entirely convinced that God does not exist—that God is not in control, but that man is in control. Man may go about in pride and mock those who place their trust in God! But this happens only because heathen man walks around with his eyes closed! He does not heed the command of God to come and behold! He refuses. And he walks in blindness. But God laughs at him. Man is so, so small! He does not realize, when God sends the hurricanes, the floods, the earthquakes, the wars, that man cannot stand before God! Man, with all his technology, with all his mighty battleships and jets, cannot stop God by resisting Hurricane Ian. All man can do is hunker down and in fear bear the power of the God who sits in the heavens in all His majesty and glory! Man may boast in his own power, he may fantasize about how powerful he is in his movies. God sits in the heavens and laughs at unbelieving man! He is exalted in the earth! He is God.
But God will be exalted too! Not only does God say this to us in order that we might be assured of this truth. But Psalm 46 has a future connotation to it too. There will come a day, dear listener, when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that God is God and Jesus Christ His anointed Son! There will come a day when God will be exalted in the earth and among the heathen! Even the heathen will bow before God and confess that He is Creator and sovereign Ruler over all! That day will come in judgment when Christ returns to usher in the new heaven and earth. No, the wicked will not be included in that kingdom. Nevertheless, the wicked, ungodly, unbelieving people of this world will be subdued. God will place His foot upon their neck and they will be forced to confess God is God. All this will God accomplish through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!
III. Be Still and Know
Did you listen to God now? Did you hear what He has declared about Himself? Have you come for a few moments today and beheld who God is and what desolations He makes in the earth? Good! Now God says to us: “be still and know that I am God!” We sit in silence and listen to our God. God is God! Do you believe that? Do you stand in awe before Him? Do you fear and tremble? Well, we should! We are either on His side or not! And if we are on His side, then we know this: we will never be moved! Not in all the troubles of this life will we be moved. The God of Jacob is a refuge to His people. To Him we flee when the troubles of our life overwhelm us. When the fears and afflictions of life become so heavy, we can run under the shelter of His wings. He is a refuge. We can flee to Him for protection from our enemies, too. The Lord of hosts is with us! He is our shield and our defense! We serve a great, big, wonderful God—always victorious, always watching over us! Now, we know that God is God. Meditate with closed lips. Then be still. Be quiet! Do not say anything! Do not be quick to utter anything before God. In awe contemplate our God! Be still! Stop your busyness! Harness your wandering thoughts. Drain your thoughts of anything but God alone and His power! Be still! Put your troubles aside. No complaining! Keep your mouth! God is our refuge! Stand in awe before Him and be silent!
You who do not know God! You be still too! And know this: God will be exalted in the earth! Kiss the Son lest He be angry and you be destroyed with none to save! Be still! (long pause) Selah! This word indicates a long pause meant for a time of silence and contemplation. Be still! Come and behold: I am God!