Learn to ‘Be Still’
Yael Eckstein | January 17, 2021
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” — Psalm 46:10
In honor of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his life work helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
As we go through life, we encounter so many challenges. At the same time, God has given us brains so that we may solve our problems. That’s a good thing because that’s how we learn and become better equipped to handle adversity in the future. As Israelis, we’ve witnessed this time and time again.
I once watched an expert on the Israeli economy being interviewed on American television. The interviewer wanted to know how today’s young Israelis had become so innovative. The Israeli expert explained that as a young country still figuring things out, there were so many mistakes made leading to everyday challenges in Israel. For example, an Israeli child goes to kindergarten and finds the hook is too high for his coat. So already from a young age, the child has to think about how to solve the problem. By the time an Israeli child is an adult, he or she is a master problem-solver!
Still, as great as it is to learn how to use our heads, there are other times when we can’t fix our problems — and we shouldn’t. Oftentimes, the more we try to help our situation, the worse it gets! It’s like being in quicksand — the more we struggle, the deeper we sink. When we encounter these impossible situations, we need to remember these words from the psalmist and learn to “Be still and know that I am God.”
Learn to “Be Still”
Now, some background information is helpful here. Psalm 46, as stated in its introduction, was penned by the sons of Korah, the man who had rebelled against Moses in the desert and was swallowed by the ground. According to Jewish tradition, Korah’s sons, who had sided with their father, were also swallowed by the ground.
However, as they were being swallowed up, they repented. God created a miracle, and He carved out a small niche underground where Korah’s sons miraculously survived. While underground they composed this and other psalms. They understood more than anyone that there are times when we face impossible situations, and yet, if we trust God, salvation can still come.
The beginning of the psalm described an impossible situation. Mountains quaked, oceans roared, and land fell into the sea. Yet, as the psalm begins, Korah’s sons affirmed that they would not fear since God was their strength and refuge. Similarly, when we find ourselves in situations that are beyond our control, we also need to turn toward God and learn to “be still.”
The Jewish understanding of “be still” is that we need to cease trying to handle things ourselves. Instead we have to trust God. Then, He can save us from even the most impossible situations and bring us out of even the deepest and darkest places.
Start the New Year off right by helping you and your family learn how to set priorities. Download a sample lesson from my new family-friendly guide, the Generation to Generation Workbook, the companion piece to my book, Generation to Generation: Passing on a Legacy of Faith to Our Children.