In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15
Isaiah was dismayed when he saw the royal delegation leaving Jerusalem for Egypt. King Hezekiah was sending envoys to form a military alliance instead of trusting God’s protection. Hezekiah hadn’t asked Isaiah’s advice, nor had he sought God’s counsel (Isaiah 30:2). Instead, the king’s diplomats treaded through the desert (verse 6) on a mission doomed to failure (verse 7). Isaiah advised the caravan to turn back, saying: “In returning and rest you shall be saved.” He told them to turn around and return home, to rest in God’s protection, to quiet themselves, and to trust God’s promises. That, he said, would be their strength (verse 15).
That’s our strength too.
We can’t solve all the problems facing us; and sometimes the more we try, the deeper the mess. We find little help in “Egypt.” But in returning to the Lord and resting in Him, we find deliverance. And in quietness and confidence we find strength.
This quietness and confidence is… an abiding frame of mind, an all-enduring and an all-pervading spirit…. Indeed it’s priceless value lies in the fact that it pervades the anxious activities of life. George Wilson, Edinburgh preacher of an earlier era
Today’s passage is probably the most beloved psalm in the Bible. It’s filled with comforting descriptions of green pastures, still waters, a banquet table, and an overflowing cup, all of which point to restoration and God’s abundant goodness and mercy.
But right in the middle of the psalm is “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). We may be tempted to think this verse doesn’t fit the context, but it actually conveys a core truth about the believer’s life: Although our Shepherd constantly guides and cares for us, we will experience periods of hardship, suffering, and darkness. It’s just part of living in a fallen world.
However, God gives us amazing promises in the midst of the dark valleys. We never walk through them alone, because the Lord promises to be with us. Even when we can’t feel His presence, He is there. And His Word is our primary means of comfort—nowhere else can we find the relief we seek. All our coping methods will leave us empty, but the truths of Scripture assure us of God’s love and strength, which enable us to endure and even grow through difficult experiences.
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus protects and guides His lambs through every trial. Even in dark valleys, we cannot be snatched from Him (John 10:29). His rod beats away predators trying to drag off one of the flock, and His staff’s crooked neck pulls a wandering sheep back from danger.
If you’re presently traveling through a dark valley, remember that the Lord is with you. His goodness and mercy are still following you because your Shepherd never forsakes His beloved lambs.
“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” (Proverbs 8:22-23)
The book of Proverbs repeatedly extols the virtues of true wisdom, founded on the fear of the Lord. In the eighth chapter, however, beginning at verse 22, the theme changes, retreating far back in time to creation itself, and even before. The statements in the next ten verses, especially, must be of an actual divine Person. From the New Testament perspective, especially with John 1:1-14 as the definitive exposition, it becomes clear that the divine wisdom of Proverbs 8:22-31 is none other than the incarnate Word of John’s prologue.
The Lord Jesus Christ, indeed, fits perfectly all the statements in this particular section of Proverbs, which then gives marvelous new insight into the events of creation and the divine fellowship in the Godhead before the creation. Note that in these first two verses, the Lord’s “ways” were prior to His “works” and that He “possessed” His Son “from everlasting.” This is the profound doctrine of “eternal generations,” whereby the Son is “brought forth” continually from the Father, forever manifesting Him in His creation.
The New Testament makes it plain that Jesus Christ is, indeed, the incarnate wisdom of God. He is the “Word” by whom all things were made (John 1:1-3). He is “the truth” (John 14:6) and “the light” (John 8:12) by whom alone men can come to God and follow Him. He is called “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:24, and He called Himself “the wisdom of God” in Luke 11:49.
All of the vaunted knowledge of the world’s thinkers and scientists is empty and futile apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, for in Him alone are found “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). HMM
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and me love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
—2 Corinthians 13:14
Our blunder (or shall we frankly say our sin?) has been to neglect the doctrine of the Spirit to a point where we virtually deny Him His place in the Godhead. This denial has not been by open doctrinal statement, for we have clung closely enough to the biblical position wherever our creedal pronouncements are concerned. Our formal creed is sound; the breakdown is in our working creed.
This is not a trifling distinction. A doctrine has practical value only as far as it is prominent in our thoughts and makes a difference in our lives. By this test the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as held by evangelical Christians today has almost no practical value at all. In most Christian churches the Spirit is quite entirely overlooked. Whether He is present or absent makes no real difference to anyone. Brief reference is made to Him in the Doxology and the benediction. Further than that He might as well not exist. So completely do we ignore Him that it is only by courtesy that we can be called Trinitarian. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity boldly declares the equality of the Three Persons and the right of the Holy Spirit to be worshiped and glorified. Anything less than this is something less than Trinitarianism. POM060-061
Make me so aware of the power of the Holy Spirit in my life that I might give Him the recognition and worship that He so rightly deserves. Amen.
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.—1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.
The slack, indolent temperament, disposed to self-indulgence and delay, will find a very practical and helpful discipline in strict punctuality, a fixed habit of rising to the minute, when once a time is settled on, in being always ready for meals, or the various daily matters in which our unpunctuality makes others uncomfortable. Persons have found their whole spiritual life helped and strengthened by steadfastly conquering a habit of dawdling, or of reading newspapers and desultory bits of books, when they ought to be settling about some duty.
H.L. Sidney Lear.
Let us “redeem the time.” Desultory working, fitful planning, irregular reading, ill-assorted hours, perfunctory or unpunctual execution of business, hurry and bustle, loitering and unreadiness,—these, and such like, are the things which take out the whole pith and power from life, which hinder holiness, and which eat like a canker into our moral being.
“The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us.” Ps. 115:12
I can set my seal to that first sentence. Cannot you? Yes, Jehovah has thought of us, provided for us, comforted us, delivered us, and guided us. In all the movements of His providence He has been mindful of us, never overlooking our mean affairs. His mind has been full of us — that is the other form of the word “mindful.” This has been the case all along, and without a single break. At special times, however, we have more distinctly seen this mindfulness, and we would recall them at this hour with overflowing gratitude. Yes, yes, “the Lord hath been mindful of us.”
The next sentence is a logical inference from the former one. Since God is unchangeable, He will continue to be mindful of us in the future as He has been in the past; and His mindfulness is tantamount to blessing us. But we have here, not only the conclusion of reason but the declaration of inspiration: we have it on the Holy Ghost’s authority — “HE WILL BLESS US.” This means great things and unsearchable. The very indistinctness of the promise indicates its infinite reach. He will bless us after His own divine manner, and that for ever and ever. Therefore, let us each say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”