Scripture has much to say about being still. When circumstances seem chaotic, God can still our circumstances or still us in them. When the world tells us to forge ahead, God often calls us to wait on Him. And when the world gets loud and busy, God can often be heard when we’re still.
One of most quoted “be still” verses is Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” It was in studying this verse, that I wondered where else the Bible says to be still.
12 Bible Verses About Being Still
Exodus 14:14 (NIV) “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Context: After the Israelites left Egypt, they became trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian army. In their fear, they cried out against Moses, complaining, “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Moses told them not to be afraid because the Lord would fight for them; they needed only to be still. The Hebrew word for “be still” doesn’t mean inaction—it means to be quiet. They were to stop complaining but get moving as the entire nation walked through the Red Sea.
Nehemiah 8:11 (NIV) “The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”
Context: The wall around Jerusalem had been rebuilt under Nehemiah’s leadership and the people gathered to hear Ezra read from the Book of the Law. As he read scripture, the priests instructed and the people began to weep. Nehemiah stopped them, telling them to “be still” or be quiet because this was a holy day of feasting and celebration.
Psalm 4:4 (NKJV) “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”
Context: This is an evening prayer, given by David in a distressing situation. Night often magnifies our problems, but it also provides time to reflect. When people are causing us trouble, this verse counsels to be angry and sin not. Instead, while lying awake, we should look deep within our own heart. What are our temptations and struggles? Where do we need to trust and surrender more? The call to be still is a call to be silent and examine our own heart before God.
Psalm 37:7 (NIV) “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”
Context: Psalm 37 is powerful encouragement by David to trust God in the face of evil. He reminds us that evil will eventually be destroyed and we’re to “be still” and wait for God’s justice. The Hebrew word for “be still” is often translated to rest. When we worry that evil has the upper hand and will win, we can rest in trust that God has not forgotten and will bring about His justice.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV) “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46 is song of praise to God for protection from Jerusalem’s enemies. I often see this verse used as an instruction to stop doing, sit quietly and contemplate on the Lord.
But the Hebrew word that means “be still” means to let go, stop striving, slacken and let drop. It’s not a call to inaction but a call to surrender our circumstances to God’s sovereignty. Find more on what it means to be still and know that I am God.
Ruth 3:18 (NKJV) “Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.”
Context: This verse anticipates the climax in the book of Ruth, as she waits on Boaz. Ruth had followed Naomi’s instructions to ask Boaz to fulfill his obligation as kinsman-redeemer to her. Her entire future—and Naomi’s—hinged on Boaz’s response. Naomi told Ruth to be still, as the Darby Translation reads, meaning she should wait patiently.
How often have we done all we could and can only wait patiently for God to work? When we’re waiting on God to come through, we need to still our mind and emotions. God will be faithful to His promises.
Mark 4:39 (NIV) “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”
Context: After teaching all day, Jesus got in a boat that evening with his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. A terrible storm arose, nearly capsizing the boat. The disciples were terrified but Jesus continued sleeping in the stern. When the disciples woke him, accusing “Don’t you care that we drown?” Jesus stood and commanded the wind and waves to still.
The Greek word for “be still” means to muzzle, to be made silent. I love the word picture of Jesus muzzling the wind and waves! What a reminder that God can muzzle our storms as well. We need only look to Him.
2 Kings 2:3, 5 (NASB, 1995) “Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”
Context: Elijah’s ministry was complete and this was the day God would take him to heaven. Knowing this, Elisha refused to leave Elijah’s side and twice, when the prophets thought they were clueing Elisha in, he told them to “be still.” The Hebrew word here means to be silent.
Elisha’s reply has always seemed rather curt to me. But then, do we really need others to remind us of our pain? Elisha was grieving the loss Elijah. Instead of saying something that hurts when others are in pain, we can often help best with our quiet presence.
Psalm 83:1 (ESV) “God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God.”
Context: Psalm 83 is an imprecatory psalm, asking God to bring decisive judgement against the nations opposed to Israel. The first verse is a clear prayer, asking God to rise up and do something. The psalmist asks God not to “be still” or to sit idly by while Israel’s enemies conspire against her.
Should we pray like this against our enemies? In the gospels, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and Paul says to pray for those who curse us. Our real enemies are spiritual and as God’s children, we can ask him not to keep silent or be still against our spiritual enemies.
Psalm 107:29 (ESV) “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”
Context: Psalm 107 is an incredible psalm of thanksgiving for God’s rescue in four areas: when we go through the wilderness, when we’re in bondage to sin, when we experience affliction and when we go through storms. The psalm allegorically portrays sailors who encountered a hurricane and when they cried out to God, He stilled the storm. We will all encounter storms too big for us in life. But God. When we cry out to Him, God can bring calm in the midst of our storm.
Jeremiah 47:6 (NIV) “Alas, sword of the LORD, how long till you rest. Return to your sheath; cease and be still.”
Context: This passage is part of a specific prophecy given to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the destruction of the Philistines. God would execute his justice and Jeremiah 47 gives a prophesy detailing the event.
Zechariah 2:12, 13 (NIV) “The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”
Context: This chapter is a prophecy about the Millennial Reign, when God will dwell again in Jerusalem. During this time, God will reign and verse 12 says all people will hold their peace before the Lord.