Have you ever heard a pastor say that if you want to “hear” the voice of God, then you need to heed the advice of Psalm 46:10? In case you aren’t familiar with the text, it reads, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” I quote that from the King James since that’s normally the version used. The “cease striving” of the NASB doesn’t have that familiar “ring” to it that those exposed to this false teaching would be used to hearing. And it’s the “be still” part on which pastors focus. Anyhow, I bring this up because I had recently been told by someone that their pastor taught this passage as a prescription for hearing God’s voice. Granted, he like so many others, throw in the disclaimer that it’s not an “audible voice” or anything, because then that would mean he was crazy – because somehow volume is the gauge by which we count someone mental or not?
Normally, it goes something like, “Are you too busy to hear God’s voice? With all the day-to-day clamor and stresses, we need to be still and listen for God’s voice.” Is this what Psalm 46:10 teaches? Nope. The Bible doesn’t instruct God’s people anywhere to enter into a still and quiet state of prayer by which we try to hear the voice of God. You might be able to find that in some Hindu, New Age, or Roman Catholic mystic writings, but not in the Bible. Scripture tells us that if we want to “hear” God’s voice, we look to Scripture itself. Let’s take a look at some verses.
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. 1 Corinthians 4:6
The Corinthian church is warned not to exceed what is written in the Scriptures. Hearing the voice of God for extra instruction would be “going to God’s Word” outside of what is written. Which brings me to the next point:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Apparently, the apostle Paul believed and taught that Scripture was enough to reprove, correct, train in righteousness, and equip for every good work.
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21
And here we are told that Scripture is the result of men who, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God. The Bible is the Word of God. Looking for God to speak to you elsewhere would be just as an authoritative voice as what we read in Scripture. You could actually write down what God tells you in your Bible, because it is just as inspired as the rest.
Ironically, these same pastors will say that anything you feel God is telling you must be tested by Scripture. Okay? So then why not just read Scripture instead of searching for voices to tell you how to do something. Scripture, after all, is profitable for equipping someone for every good work. But this argument aside, let’s just remember that no where in Scripture are we taught to pray this way. Jesus already tells us how we ought to pray:
‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Matthew 6:9-13
Lastly, let’s just take a look at what Psalm 46 says in context. It’s only 11 verses long.
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
The Sons of Korah (the ones who wrote Psalm 46), are proclaiming God to be their refuge and strength. He protected Israel. They were not to trust in their own armies or numbers or strength. God had shown them time and time again that He was the One Who was victorious regardless of their numbers. He was their King.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
They have no reason to fear despite what might happen throughout the earth that would usually strike fear into humanity.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted.
The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Again, they are speaking of God being the One Who protects them (Jacob – ie Israel) from the attack of other nations. This was obviously the case before the incarnation of Jesus as God preserved Israel so that Jesus could be born at the proper time. Once Jesus was crucified, buried, and raised, Israel ceased from being the exclusive people of God. I know this seems off topic a bit, but someone could read some of my comments and assume that the nation of Israel is still God’s “chosen” nation. It’s not.
Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire.
Yeah. God is pretty awesome. He has left a trail of destruction comprised of His enemies.
“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold.
God says to be still/cease striving, that is, stop trusting in other nations, strengths, etc and realize that He is the God of Israel. He protected them. And this display of protection glorified God throughout the earth.
I didn’t see any description or teaching of how to hear God’s voice. Did you? Just some guys who were thankful that God protected His people from the threat of other nations. That’s the problem with reading the text in a man-centered way. It involved reading the Old Testament as a collection of allegories that are actually about you and how to improve yourself in some way. Instead, the reality is that the Old Testament Scriptures point to Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross on behalf of His people, His burial and resurrection on behalf of believers. I’m sure many people have striven to “be still” enough, and have become depressed because they feel like they hadn’t heard from God. Even worse, some may have believed they heard from God and have made horrible decisions, blaming God for every one. No conditions are necessary to “hear” God’s voice. Just read the Bible. All blessings and miracles are given to God’s children by believing the gospel. God doesn’t then tell His children that they better behave a particular way if they want more.
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.