I’m three-quarters of my way through the read-through-the-bible-in-a-year. Some of it has been tough going (Leviticus) but one of my favorite parts has been stumbling across familiar verses, back in their natural habitat. Bible verses are often lifted out of context, sometimes so kids can memorize them and sometimes so we can memorize them (put them on a very small post-it and stick them to the desk). But in the extraction process they almost always get cut off from the rich context that brings them to life.
An example of this was the verse I came across not too long ago: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
It’s an easy one to remember; short and sweet. It’s normally used as a meditation, when the pace of life is overwhelming. “Be still…..be still” we repeat to ourselves. For most of us, that’s enough challenge for one day. We can barely get to “…….and know that I am God.”
But look at where that verse is placed:
8 Come and see the works of the LORD,
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."
In my self-centeredness, I had made that isolated verse all about me: about my rest and sense of inner peace. But back in context, it’s first and foremost about the power and majesty of God, who gives us the freedom to “be still” because he is always at work. I like that version much better than my own.