A Healthy Hush

Growing up in a home with strong roots from the Old Country had its humorous peculiarities. My mother and her dad repeatedly used a German phrase with us kids. We knew its basic meaning was “Hush!” When our voices had reached full throttle, it meant, “Tone it down!” When we were verbally bucking a chore or protesting some perceived injustice, it meant, “Stop your whining!”

Now here’s the deal … the literal (and most polite) translation of that phrase is “Be, still … I’ll slap you naked.” It sounds like an awful threat, a bullying intimidation tactic, but it wasn’t like that. I can still see the twinkle in my grandfather’s eye when he said it. It was a genuine warning … but a good-natured and preemptive one. If we listened and corrected course, we were not in trouble. It was a humorous way of saying, “Remember your place … and who’s in authority here.” My emotion connected to that memory is a feeling of security. I’m so thankful for adults in my life who knew their place and reminded me of mine. I innately sensed that their power to correct meant they also had power to protect.

There is a phrase in Psalm 46 that begins with the command “Be still.” You’ve probably seen it on a plaque, a poster or a meme. Do an image search for Psalm 46:10. You will predominantly find the verse scrawled in cursive across some tranquil nature scene or a picture of a person sitting tranquilly in a tranquil nature scene.

Psalm 46 is certainly about peace and security for the God’s people, but the force of “Be still!” has more in common with my grandfather’s tone. It means “cease your striving” … “stop your raging.” The command was given in the face of international upheaval and military threat against the city of Jerusalem. In that setting, God commands, “Be still and know that I am God.” This is about positional security … peace based in the comprehension of God’s right and power to rule. In fact, the preceding verses say,

Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire. Psalm 46:8-9

I’m glad I have a heavenly Father who does not abdicate His role, His authority … His place. I am quite content to have Him remind me of my place. I feel most secure when I know that … He is God. Then I can say with the Psalmist, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:11