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A Modern Song for an Old Psalm

“Be still and know that I am God” -Psalm 46:10

So, I know this series features mainly praise and worship songs. The song I’ll be talking about, “Be Still” by The Fray, is not your average P&W song. That said though, this song definitely has influences from the Bible and the band members of The Fray did start out as worship leaders in their churches and the Christian school they attended together (thank you Wikipedia!). Thus, a P&W song it may not be, but it is definitely a song that points towards God.

Personally, I feel that the song really struck a chord in my heart. One of the main reasons is just the style of the song and its origins. One interesting fact that I found out about the song was how originally, it was meant to be a lullaby for the brother of Isaac Slade, the band’s vocalist. Interestingly enough, according to him, “I didn't really write it; I just started playing it. The melody and the lyrics just kind of fell into place.” Guitarist Joe King even called it “the rawest song on the record”. It’s not a song that is filled with exuberant joy in our God nor an anthem that calls us to stand as soldiers of God. It is a quiet lullaby that silences the storms in our hearts and minds, one that continuously reminds us of the gentle presence of God in our lives. It is a song that reminds us that Elijah recognized God in the silence.

“Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”– 1 Kings 19:11-13

The words of the song are simple. The song doesn’t have a specific chorus per se but the very first verse goes like this:

“Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still and know that I am here
Be still and know that I'm with you
Be still, be still, and know”

This theme of being still and of recognizing this presence (in my context, that of God) is present throughout the rest of the verses as well. The rest of the verses talk about darkness, about fear and shame, about doubt and about uncertainty. And yet, we don’t rebel against these with anger, with fear, with frustrations. We begin by being still and recognizing that God is with us even in such a time. Sometimes, we forget this in our haste and worry. It always seems like the only way to fight these times of trouble and turbulence is to fight back against them. To push back and to try and make these times better for ourselves. After all, any action has an equal and opposite reaction to it. Nothing wrong with wanting to make things better. However, can we not do so after being still? After realizing that God is present even in the dark days of our lives?

At the end of the day, a lullaby soothes the heart. The song reminds our souls that it is loved by God. That we have not been abandoned and will never be for our God is always with us. It cuts through the restlessness of our hearts and minds to remind us of the simple Truth that we all desire to be loved even at our lowest. And that is why this profound song doesn’t need to be “Christian” for it to be universal. Because deep down, we all desire to be loved, to know that there is someone there that is with us through both night and day. For me, it is God who remains as my anchor, the One who is unmoved by my darkness but continues to stand with me. And as the last few lines of the song go: “If no one is standing beside you, be still and know I am”.

© 2019 Christ Centered Conversations/Gregory Adrian Gunawan

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