Be Still

Psalm 46:6-10 TNIV
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(emphasis added)

In a blog post titled Most Misused Scriptures Doug Magnum says, “v. 10 is meant as a call to fearful awe in the face of that power, not quiet contemplation on God. … ‘Be still’ is probably better translated with the idiomatic ‘Shut up.'”

My wife had a movie on in the kitchen. It was Pollyanna, the 1960 Disney version. Pollyanna and a little boy were talking to a neighbor and the boy said something she didn’t like. She said, “Be still!” I said to my wife, Did you hear that? That’s like Psalm 46:10. My wife, who’s older than me, said she remembers her grandparents using that term as a way of saying Be quiet or Shut up.

So this is another instance where we need to learn older English usage in addition to learning how to interpret the Bible. This is an advantage of dynamic type translations where the meaning is translated into more modern English that we can better understand. But then there are advantages to the formal type translations. Thank God we have both.

This was a great example for me to see how “be still” was used in this way until not long ago. A younger generation can come along and not only take a verse out of context but misunderstand the English and come up with all sorts of alternate meanings, as I admittedly did with this verse.

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  1. 1 Dynamic translations are not all bad « This is Pax
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