At the beginning of chapter 26 of Isaiah, the prophet tells us the words of a song that will sung by the redeemed people of God on the day of their deliverance. And in the middle of the song, as though they are speaking to us today, the people sing: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (v. 3).
Peace – so sought after, but so elusive. In our world plagued with conflict and turmoil, any peace we achieve in society or between nations seems fragile at best. And the restlessness around us is matched by an inner disquietude. We long for peace of heart, but battle with fear, anxiety, and a restive spirit. Peace especially escapes us in the midst of trying and stressful circumstances.
But in this verse God promises to keep us in “perfect peace.” When the Old Testament authors wanted to emphasize the truth of something, they often repeated a word. For example, in Isaiah 6:3 we hear the seraphim crying out “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts …!” To express the superlative, matchless holiness of God, Isaiah wrote out “holy” three times. Likewise in our verse, the prophet repeats the word “peace.” Verse 3 literally reads, “You keep him in peace, peace…”
So the promise is that God will give us not just a little peace, or barely adequate peace, but “perfect peace” – abounding peace, the fullness of peace. We hear an echo of this promise in Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The Lord gives this peace to those “whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Here is a call to faith. Even as life’s trials and uncertainties threaten to rattle our hearts and minds, God calls us to fix our thoughts upon him – his truth, his Word, his promises. We must set our hearts on Christ, with the eye of faith seeing him as our sovereign and faithful Lord ruling over all things for our good. To modify Augustine’s famous expression, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Jesus.
God doesn’t promise a peaceful life or tranquil circumstances. But he does promise to keep in perfect peace the Christian who keeps his mind stayed on the Savior who is “an everlasting rock” (v.4), and is the “same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Soli Deo Gloria!
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