Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The old proverb says, "Speech is silvery, but silence is golden," and there are times when its truth becomes apparent. And where can silence be so fitting as when God has spoken in one of those sudden and mysterious dispensations of His providence, asserting His own sovereignty and instructing His erring creatures? The presence of death, the immediate contact with the unknown realities of the world of spirits, are surely, at any time, enough to sober the most reckless, arouse the most indifferent, awe the most trifling, and still the most giddy spirit. But when there are circumstances throwing around the event more than its ordinary awfulness — when a few brief hours or days have sufficed to change the bloom and vigour of health into the cold unbroken silence of the tomb, then, surely, must the effect be yet deeper, and the soul, filled with an overwhelming awe, may well say with David, "I was dumb with silence — I opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it."
I. THE MODE IN WHICH THE ANGEL OF DEATH DOES HIS WORK is fitted ever to impress on us this lesson. It might have been that a generation should have had its allotted time and its peculiar work — that side by side the companions of childhood and youth should have pursued their path, till for all it terminated at the same moment in the grave. The term fixed for human life might have been uniform add invariable. Every element of uncertainty might have been removed, and a man have been able from the very dawning of intelligence to calculate and anticipate the hour of his death. Need I say how great a change would thus have been introduced, or indicate how evil the effects that would have been produced on the majority of men? The thought of death would have been put away until the dreaded hour approached God has mercifully not left us thus. He has encircled us with monitors to remind us of our mortality, to silence every thought of self-confidence, to make us feel how frail we are. We are told of the great Sultan Saladin, that in the midst of the magnificence by which he was surrounded, he had a slave whose business it was daily to remind him that he was mortal. Wise, indeed, to perceive that the consciousness of his power, the pride of majesty, the adulations of those round him were fitted to banish this thought from the mind, and that the fact, thus liable to be forgotten, was that which ought to be ever present to the mind. Yet, surely, there were voices distinct enough to render such a monitor needless. Death doing his work around us is ever speaking to us. Sudden death, especially, should produce this impression. Now, God by such deaths rebukes our carelessness and pleads with us on our own behalf. Yours may be the next door at which Death shall knock.
II. LET US LEARN A LESSON OF RESIGNATION, A more wretched feeling cannot come across the soul in moments like these, than the agonizing doubt of the reality of God's providence. A calamity, sudden, terrible and overwhelming, has come upon us — the reason staggers and the heart sinks beneath the blow. The whole appears so contrary to every principle of God's government, and every conception of His love, that we begin to ask, "Is there a God that judgeth on the earth? Is there a Judge of the whole earth who will do right? Are we the children of a loving Father who makes all things work together for good?" If so, how can these things bey "Surely Thou hast made all men in vain." Happy for the spirit that in such dread hour can hear and obey the voice, "Be still, and know that I am God."
III. LET US CHERISH PATIENT BUT CONFIDENT HOPE. There is deep significance in the apostle's words, "We sorrow not as those who have no hope." We must sorrow. These partings rend oar hearts within us, and we cannot but sorrow. But we must not so discredit our profession and misrepresent the Gospel as to sorrow with that wild despair which may not unnaturally be associated with unbelief. Our burden may be very heavy, but hope relieves its pressure, and as it whispers in our ears tales of the "far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," not only helps us to toil on, hut teaches us some of the songs of Zion to which we haste, with which to beguile the way. That hope, which rests on the promises of a faithful God, and therefore cannot make ashamed, is your strength and consolation.
(J. G. Rogers, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.