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Rest In Troublesome Times

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When we think of the word “rest,” many different ideas come to mind such as: peace, quietness, relaxation, ease, or a good night’s rest (i.e., sleep). Many consider the thought of death as an everlasting rest from the pressures of this life. For example, Poe writes:

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city, lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.1

Many of these are reflected in the Bible as well. Although several Hebrew words convey the idea of rest, “rest” is most commonly associated with words from the Hebrew root nwḥ. Even here “rest” is used in many varied contexts. Although the commonly held view of death as the true place of rest is attested (e.g., Job 3:17), of distinct interest are those that are used in connection with God’s promises concerning “rest” for his people, which include: “a place to land on, a place of serenity, and cessation from effort” as well as “safety and security.” 2

Scriptural Examples of Rest

David’s rehearsal of the God’s instructions to him concerning Solomon is told in 1 Chronicles 22. Here we learn that although David had a strong desire to build a temple for the Lord, the Lord did not permit him to do so (I Chron. 22: 5-8). Rather, the Lord said, “Look, you will have a son, who will be a peaceful man. I will give him rest from his enemies on every side. Indeed, Solomon will be his name; I will give Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He will build a temple to honor me” (1 Chron. 22:9-10).3 Not David, the man of many wars, but his son Solomon, whose very name conveys the thought of peace (see NET text note), would have this privilege. As Selman remarks,

David’s disqualification was not because of sin, for he had fought ‘before me’ (v. 8). It was God who had promised him military victory (14:10, 14; 17:11) and enabled him to achieve it (18:6, 13; 19:13)… the main thrust is probably to underline the contrast with Solomon’s reign as one of peace and rest.4

Here, then, we see one use of the thought of “rest”—that of peace and security.

Indeed, Solomon’s long reign of 40 years was largely characterized as one of peace, security, and prosperity (cf. 1 Kings 8:56). Nevertheless, his many alliances with foreign nations sealed by marriage arrangements caused Solomon’s a great spiritual decline. As a man endowed with God’s wisdom he should have remembered and followed the Lord’s specific instruction for kings: “He must not marry many wives lest his affections turn aside” (Deut. 17:17). Moreover, Solomon’s multiple marriages contributed not only to internal strife engendered by political rivals in his later years but after his death to the actual division of his kingdom.5 As Kaiser points out,

At the root of his problems was his multiple marriage alliances with other nations, alliances that required him to provide for their foreign pantheons right in the heart of the land to pacify his wives….The seeds of defection from the union had been well established in               his own day. Though he would die before the fruit of some of his own disastrous policies would come to fruition, the division of the kingdom was now beyond repair or remediation. 6

Peaceful conditions and prosperity can deteriorate rapidly when one abandons the priority of God to live a self-centered life.

This was a lesson that God’s people Israel learned during the days of their wilderness experience after their exodus from Egypt. As the psalmist records citing God’s feelings toward his all-too-often disobedient people,

For forty years I was continually disgusted with that generation,
and I said, “These people desire to go astray;
they do not obey my commands.”
So I made a vow in my anger,
“They will never enter into my resting place I had set aside for them.” (Ps. 95:10-11)

Rather than entering into the land, which the Lord had promised to the heirs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and experiencing that “rest,” that generation had forfeited God’s blessings. In this regard it is tragic that this should be the case, for God had assured Moses that the Lord’s presence would be with him and an assumedly faithful Israel to guide them into the land of promise and rest: “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest” (Exod. 33:14). As Stuart explains, this was “a full restoration of the original idea of God’s promise to bring the people out of Egypt and into the promised land personally as stated in 3:8, 12, 17).”7 Nevertheless, despite God’s assurances and all that he had done for them, their hearts and lives had become self-centered and callous toward him. As Leupold remarks, “There is no parallel on record when God decreed the death of a whole generation as He did in connection with the stubborn sin of Israel.”8 Citing this incident, the author of the book of Hebrews appropriately admonishes his readers, “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God” (Heb. 3:12).

The events in Israel’s journey in the wilderness should have served as a spiritual lesson for subsequent generations of Israelites. Moreover, God renewed the assurance of his presence to his people as they were about to cross the Jordan River to enter the land of promise and rest. “When you do go across the Jordan River and settle in the land he is granting you as an inheritance and you find relief (Heb., He gives you rest) from all the enemies who surround you, you will live in safety” (Deut. 12:10). Yet as time went on and generation followed generation, God’s people were often far from being faithful to the Lord and his standards. Thus it is not totally surprising that even the God-blessed Solomon would become spiritually unfaithful and his kingdom divided or that the people of the people of divided Israel would eventually prove so spiritually corrupt that God would judge them. They would be defeated by enemies and taken into captivity:

In the past he said to them,
“This is where security can be found.

This is where rest can be found.”
But they refused to listen.
So the Lord’s word to them will sound like
meaningless gibberish, senseless babbling,
a syllable here, a syllable there.
As a result they will fall on their backsides when they try to walk,
and be injured, ensnared, and captured. (Isa. 28:12-13).

As Oswalt observes, “Something within the human heart wants to find its security in its own devices over which it has control. So they would not listen. … Since they would not listen to the gentle words of God, but mocked them, the people of Samaria were doomed to learn the effects of sin at the hands of a much harder teacher—experience.”9 Not only would the northern kingdom of Israel fall to Assyria in 722 B.C. but later the southern kingdom of Judah would be defeated and taken into exile by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.

The record of the people of Israel’s preoccupation with their own way instead of being faithful to the Lord should stand as a spiritual lesson for believers of all times and nations. As George Herbert wrote, rather than living for self,

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.10

So it is that when believers and nations live in faithfulness to the Lord, not self, they may ask the Lord for forgiveness, relief, and rest. So it would prove even for all of the judged, exiled people of the divided kingdom, Judah and Israel. There was yet hope for a repentant, faithful people. The Lord could and would have compassion on them, judge their captors, arrogant Babylon and other wicked nations, and restore them to their land (Isa. 14:1-2). He would thereby give “relief (Heb., rest) from your suffering and anxiety, and from the hard labor which you were made to perform” (Isa. 14:3).

Relief from earth’s toils, trials, and tribulation did not cease with the experience of God’s people Israel. As we shall see below, true rest remained and is still to be found in the Lord. Therefore, as John Haynes Holmes expresses it, believers may seek true relief and rest:

O God, whose smile is in the sky,
Once more from earth’s tumultuous strife,
We gladly turn to Thee.

We come as those with toil far spent
Who crave Thy rest and peace,
And from the care and fret of life
Would find in Thee release.11

Indeed, the Lord is ever available for faithful believers who call upon him in sincerity for the relief that only he can provide. As David declares in the thirty-seventh Psalm, a consistent, total, whole-soul commitment to the Lord (intellect emotions, and will) can enable a person to “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (v.7; NASB, NKJV). Psalm 37 is one of several alphabetic acrostic psalms in which each letter of the Hebrew alphabet successively introduces a section of the psalm. In this psalm two couplets are devoted to each letter. In verses 3-7, which is the focus of our attention, the second (vv.3-4), third (vv. 5-6), and fourth (v. 7) Hebrew letters are used. Alphabetic acrostics thus display literary artistry. Yet that artistry is devoted to emphasizing solid biblical teaching, while making memorization all the more easy.

David begins his psalm (vv1-2) with a statement that provides a rather good summation of what is to be emphasized and learned from what will be presented in the psalm as a whole. Believers are encouraged not to be discouraged by or envious of the wicked regardless of their success or prosperity. For their coming adversity is certain. Rather, believers should first of all,

Trust in the Lord and do what is right!
Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! (v.3)

The phrase “trust in” carries with it the thought of having full confidence in the Lord. It indicates that a person may know for certain that he can rely on God completely. Other notable examples include (but are not limited to) Psalms 32:10; 112:7; and Jeremiah 17:7 where there is “a strong interest in Wisdom.… The recurring admonition, Trust in the Lord!” can be understood in the light of this. It is especially impressive in antithetical statement in Prov. 3:5: “Trust in Yahweh with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.”12 Although a synonym is used to express Abraham’s faith (Heb. ’mn, “believe, put trust in”), it likewise expresses the thought of full, knowledgeable faith accompanied by a favorable spiritual evaluation: “Abraham believed the LORD, and the LORD considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty (Gen. 15:6). Thus one’s faith in the Lord should be so deeply embedded in his heart and mind that whatever he does bears witness to his integrity and right standing before the Lord.

Moreover, when a person lives in this way, he experiences true joy of living:

Take delight in the LORD
and He will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4, HCSB).

One who takes his delight in the Lord, rather than self, will realize his desires because that which he now desires is in accordance with the Lord’s desires for him. As Delitzsch remarks, “He who, entirely severed from the creature, finds his highest delight in God, cannot desire anything that is at enmity with God, but he can also desire nothing that God, with whose will his own is thoroughly blended in love, would refuse him.”13 The believer’s trust is also underscored in a total commitment of his will to the Lord:

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in Him and he will act,
making your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like the noonday. (vv. 5-6, HCSB)

In context, this call for commitment is more literally expressed as to “’roll away’ or ‘cast’ on the Lord one’s feelings of anger, resentment, and jealousy (cf. 55:22; Pr 16:3; 1 Pe 5:7). “The ‘way’ pertains to one’s whole life, including negative feelings, nagging questions, and concerns of justice. God expects His children to be children and to put themselves entirely under His fatherly love.”14 Such a commitment of the will to the God of righteousness and justice (cf. Deut. 32:4) will be rewarded by the Lord’s vindicating the integrity of the believer’s life.

What has been presented in these verses is a charge to exercise genuine faith. Faith may be defined as a whole-soul commitment to God, intellect, emotions, and will, resting in the sufficiency of the evidence. True faith involves firm belief and trust in the Lord (intellect), distinctly genuine delight and joy in him above all (emotions), and a total commitment to him and adherence to the revealed standards in the Word of God (will). Rather than an “easy believism,” true faith involves an exercise of the total person.

When real faith resides in an individual, it enables the believer to “rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him” (v. 7; NASB; NKJV). Where such strong faith and trust exist there is a proper perspective on the issues of life. Rather than envying the seeming successes and state of the wicked or worrying needlessly concerning various matters, the believer can be assured that the Lord’s way is the best way. God’s plans will ultimately succeed and the believer’s faith will be fully rewarded.

Rest in the Midst of Trials and Troubles

As we have noted above, it is crucial for a believer to be faithful to the Lord and to his standards so as to live for the Lord, not self. When he does so, rest is available even in the most difficult circumstances. The need for absolute trust and for resting in the sufficiency of God is exemplified in Psalm 77 in which the psalmist points to a crisis in his life:

I will cry (or I cried out, NIV) out to God and call for help!
I will cry out (or I cried out, NIV) to God and he will pay attention to me.
In my time of trouble I sought the Lord
I kept my hand raised in prayer throughout the night.
I refused to be comforted. (Ps. 77:1-2)

Despite his normal practice of calling on God in times of trouble (I cry aloud, HCSB), the psalmist felt that the Lord was not responding to his plea. It was as though God was not responding to his plea. He wondered whether God had abandoned him to his weakness and misery. He felt quite alone in his struggle. One is reminded of the old spiritual, which said,

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.
Nobody knows my sorrow.

But then the psalmist said to himself:

I will remember God while I groan;
I will think about him while my strength leaves me.

The Hebrew word translated, “groan” in most versions gives some indication of his troubled condition. 15 The Hebrew root underlying this verb is a deeply descriptive one. It‘s understanding is to be sought in the inner groaning of the soul that often gives rise to excited, perhaps indistinct, sounds of the lips. A sense of confused sound or movement appears to be present wherever the root occurs. Interestingly enough, it can be used to depict the noise made by a bear (Isa. 59:11) or a dog (Ps. 59:6, 14) or the plaintiff mourning of a flitting dove (Ezek. 7:16). It also appears in connection with the roar of the sea (Isa. 51:15) and the din of the city (Isa. 22:2).

This Hebrew root was also used to describe the soliloquy of the soul (Ps.. 42 :5,11; 43:5). Here David speaks of the severe fret of soul that he was experiencing (see NET text note) and the sense of loneliness and despair he was feeling. Even here in his inner questionings, musings, and thoughts he finds hope for his condition:

Why are you depressed, O my soul?
Wait for God!
For I will again give thanks to my God
for his saving intervention. (Ps. 43:5)

This latter idea is in view in Psalm 77. The desperate plight of the psalmist had given rise to an inner anguish that prevented his speaking (v. 4). Overwhelmed by adverse circumstances, he could only groan inaudibly (v. 3) and complain (cf. KJV; lit. “meditate):

I said, I will remember God while I groan;
I will think about him while my strength leaves me. (NET)

As he thought further about the good life he had once enjoyed with the Lord, he struggled to reconcile that with what he was going through now (vv.5-6). Comfortless, his heart was wacked by restlessness and haunting doubt. Could God have cast him off forever? (v.7). Even worse, could it be that God has now retracted or nullified his covenantal favor toward his people? Is God so angry with his people that he has ceased being the merciful and forgiving father of old? (vv.8-9). The psalmist was so upset at this that he said to himself, “I am sickened by the thought that the sovereign one might become inactive” (v.10). At this prospect he was thoroughly perplexed in his soul and in desperate need of divine consolation. As Leupold suggests it appeared to him that,

God is not what he used to be. What was true in regard to Him in the past certainly does not seem to be so now. More particularly, it appears that God either has not the strength that is able to help, or else He does not care to use it if He has it. To be in such a situation brings with it a most anguishing dilemma. The very ground is gone from under a man’s feet.16             

Bearing these truths in mind, it is not surprising to read of the psalmist’s change of direction in his thinking. Indeed, his notion that the Sovereign One (Heb. “Most High”) could become inactive (v.10) moves the psalmist to consider the wondrous and marvelous things that God has done. His description is painted in four-fold fashion in reflecting in his mind who the Lord is and what he has done (vv.11-14). God’s work is described as: “amazing things, deeds, extraordinary deeds, and amazing things.” In the Hebrew text this is expressed in two pairs of synonyms, one pair for “amazing things” and one pair for “deeds.” In each set of synonyms there are different words but words that sound very much alike. The effect is both so vivid and stimulating that the palmist can only exclaim, “What god can compare to our great God?” (cf. Isa. 40:25). The answer to the implied question is of course, “None at all!” Indeed, there is no other God than Yahweh (V.11, Heb., “Yah”).

Moreover, he is a God of essential holiness (v.13) who acts in ways that are essentially pure. This is especially true with regard to Israel. For in revealing his omnipotence in his mighty works among the nations (v. 14), he accomplished the redemption the redemption of his chosen people, “the children of Jacob and Joseph” (v.15). As the Lord displayed his superintending purpose in the affairs of things here on earth, he also displayed his essential holiness. What is done is done through his holy power. As another psalmist expresses it,

The LORD is just in all his actions.
and exhibits love in all he does. (Ps. 145:17)17

Therefore, his redeemed people are likewise to reflect the Lord’s holiness in their conduct and acts. How grievous it must have been for Jeremiah to inform the people of his day of the Lord’s condemnation of them for their moral and spiritual failure, for enemy forces would soon:

“Surround Jerusalem like men guarding a field
because they have rebelled against me,”
says the LORD.
“The way you have lived
and the things you have done
will bring this on you.
This is the punishment you deserve,
and it will be painful indeed.” (Jer. 4: 17-18b)

The psalmist brings his thoughts to a close by focusing on God’s great power as seen in his mighty acts on behalf of his people Israel (vv. 16-20). The most memorable of these is, perhaps, the exodus, which details events from Israel’s departure from Egypt until its entrance into the land of promise. Psalm 77 takes its place the many Old Testament texts recounting this redemptive experience (cf. v.15). This includes two longer poetic accounts (Exod. 15:1-18; Hab. 3: 3-15) as well as many shorter notices. God’s power over the natural world is often portrayed in the Scriptures (cf. Pss. Judges 5:4-5; 18:8-18; 68:8-9; Hab. 3:10-11). Although God’s power in the natural world can be witnessed in the total exodus event, such as in the final crossing of the Jordan River (Ps. 114), here the passing through the Red Sea is particularly in view:

You walked through the sea;
you passed through the surging waters,
but left no footprints. (v. 19; cf. Exod. 14: 18-29)

God was (and ever is) Israel’s deliverer and redeemer, but he is more that that—he was Israel’s protector and provider. The Lord is Israel’s shepherd:

You led your people like a flock of sheep
By the hand of Moses and Aaron. (v.20)

The Lord was to prove to be Israel’s shepherd all along their earthly journey (cf. Ps. 80:1), seeing to the needs of each (cf. 23:1-2) and guiding them (cf. Ezek. 34:12-16; Zech 9:15-16). Too often, however, Israel showed itself to be sheep that strayed (cf. Ezek. 34:17-23).18 The psalmist’s concluding tribute to the Lord as the ultimate Shepherd served both as a corrective to his earlier doubts and fears, and as a reminder that the Lord is the Good Shepherd who is available and eager to assist his sheep in all situations.

Similarly, the psalmist of Psalm 116 tells of a time when he faced such terrible and terrifying trouble and sorrow that he feared for his very life (v. 3). During that time, he turned to the Lord as his only hope and deliverance:

The LORD protects the untrained;
I was in serious trouble and he delivered me.
Yes, Lord, you rescued my life from death,
and kept my feet from stumbling. (vv. 6, 8)

He learned quite readily what the Scriptures plainly teach, that the Lord longs to give relief and rest to his own. When the believer calls upon him in faith believing, he finds full deliverance from his troubles. So it was with the psalmist. Therefore, he could say,

Rest once more, my soul,
For the LORD has vindicated you (v. 7).

Accordingly, the psalmist would therefore, “call on the name of the LORD” (vv.13, 17), “not to ask for deliverance but to thank the Lord and his holy name for his fidelity to his promises.”19

He could as well proclaim to all:

I love the LORD
because he heard my plea for mercy.
and listened to me.
As long as I live,
I will call to him when I need help. (vv. 1-2)20

The faithful believer will find that God longs both to relieve the believer’s burden and to rescue him in time of trouble (Ps. 81: 6-8). With the finished work of Christ full access to the Lord is assured. As Jesus declared, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). To be sure, in context Jesus is rebuking the Jewish people of his day and especially the scribes and Pharisees who weary themselves by their own wisdom instead of placing their faith in their messiah, Jesus Christ (cf. vv. 25-27). But Jesus’ words have a fuller application. Indeed, if one is to find rest, he must welcome Jesus’ invitation and come to him. Here there is both spiritual rest and rest in the midst of life’s challenges. If one desires to be free of the weariness caused by anxieties and worries of mind and body, he should heed Jesus’ added admonition.

Take my yoke on you and learn of me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry. (vv. 29-30)

As those taken into union with Christ believers are “yoked together” with him. It is interesting to note that a yoke bound two animals together to share a load. As “yoked” to Christ, believers readily find that he provides strength and help to bear the burdens of this life. This may not mean a life of ease but, “It is easy and light because it involves union with the gentle, lowly King and produces a new dimension of ‘rest’ in him.”21 Moreover, the believer also learns to partake of Jesus’ character and so become, like Christ, more “gentle and humble in heart.” As did Jesus, the believer is to live not for self, but in full surrender to God so as to enjoy true “rest.”

Although the believer may thus enjoy rest here and now, even in the midst of troublesome times, there is more. An even greater, fuller rest awaits him in the future. This is brought out clearly and forcefully in Hebrews 3:7-4:11. Here the author begins his discussion and teaching by citing the words of the psalmist (Ps. 95:7b-11). As we noted in our earlier discussion, the psalmist was alluding to the people that were disobedient during their wilderness, even after God had so graciously liberated them out of Egypt. Therefore, that generation had forfeited God’s promised blessing of entering into the land and there enjoying God’s promised “rest.” Building upon and expanding on the psalmist words, the author of the book of Hebrews intends for Israel’s experience to serve as a lesson for the people of his day (cf. Ps 95: 6-7a with Heb. 3:12-19; 4:7). That generation failed to be faithful to the Lord, the Good Shepherd (Ps. 95:6-7a); the author of Hebrews (Heb.4:11) wishes for his readers to avoid the same mistake.

But there is more: “If those people ‘because of their unbelief …were not able to enter to enter his rest’ back there in the distant past (3:19), it must follow that ‘God’s promise of entering his rest’ still stands (4:1).22 Indeed, God desired that his people enjoy the same “rest” that he enjoyed after his creative work (Heb. 4:4). Despite the exodus’ generation’s failure to achieve their intended rest, a “rest” remained even after Joshua’s days (Heb. 4:8): “Consequently, a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God” (4:9). Thus the author of Hebrews “wants his readers to be in no doubt that the matter of ‘entering rest’ must be their single most important concern.”23 The Greek word underlying the term “Sabbath rest” occurs only here in the New Testament. As a verbal noun it emphasizes continuing enjoyment of the “Sabbath rest”.

The Christian’s rest is thus not limited to the acknowledgement of God’s promise of spiritual rest in the salvation experience, but demands a genuine, obedient faith that continues. The result is that, like the forerunner (Heb. 6:20) who after his earthly work was accomplished entered into heaven and took his place of “rest beside the Father,” as united to Christ believers enjoy the assured hope of a “Sabbath rest”: “For the one who enters God’s rest has also rested from his works, just as God did from his” (Heb. 4:10). Therefore, people, “Must make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one fail by following the same pattern of disobedience” (v.11). The believer’s “Sabbath rest” has its destination in an eternal heavenly “rest” with the Lord.24 Such is also declared by John in the book of Revelation:

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this; ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’” Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them there.” (Rev 14:13)

Thus Hughes observes, ‘The labors from which the people of God rest in the heavenly sabbath are the toilings, trials, and tribulations of their present pilgrimage; otherwise the sabbath rest will be for them an eternity of joyful service and unclouded worship performed to the glory of him who is their Creator and their Redeemer.”25

Application

Spiritual restlessness characterized us all until we put our faith and trust in Christ (Eph. 2:1-3). Yet even now how often the Tempter comes to make God’s children question his love and purpose for them (cf. Gen 3:4-5), especially in the troublesome times of life (I Pet. 5:8; Rev. 2:10). During such occasions the believer is in faith humbly to cast himself and his cares upon the Lord (1 Pet. 5:6-7). He must choose to resist the Tempter, and remember that,

Your brothers and sisters throughout the world are enduring the same kind of suffering. And, after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you To him belongs the power forever (I Pet.5: 9-10).

Doubting nothing (James 1:2-7), the believer should consider the prior claim of God upon his life so as to live in genuine faith in God and in full dedicated surrender to the Lord’s will and standards .As he does so, he may well often recall God’s amazing displays of power, and his love and his availability to help and strengthen even the most feeble of his people (Isa. 40: 25-31). Accordingly, believers should “wait for the LORD’s help,” for herein they will “find renewed strength” (Isa. 40: 31).

As united to Christ the troubled believers can with confidence (Ps. 138:8a) call out to God in distress (Ps.102: 1-2) and expect deliverance (Ps. 20). As Futato declares,

Everything we experience in life produces a benefit. That benefit is not always evident in the midst of the battle, but by faith we know that God is at work in it all for our good and his glory (Rom 8:28).… With hindsight we will see the good and the glory of the past. So with the foresight of faith, we live out the present and fearlessly face the future.26

And as believers do, they may confidently put their hope (Ps. 42:5, 11) and trust in God (Ps. 46:5. Isa. 26:3) who hears both the silent and audible prayers of his own (Pss. 65:5-11; 116:1-2).There is thus strength for the faithful Christian in his spiritual journey and service to the Lord, for he has the assured hope of “rest” in an eternal life of joy in the awesome presence of God. Meanwhile, the believer may echo the sentiment of the hymn writer:

Jesus, I am resting, resting
In the joy of what thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
….
Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.27


1 Edgar Allan Poe, “The City in the Sea.”

2 John N. Oswalt, “nw,” in New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, ed. Willem A. VanGemeren 5 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997) 3:58. 

3 Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptural citations are taken from the NET.

4 Martin J. Selman, 1 Chronicles, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D.J. Wiseman (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 215.

5 See further Richard D. Patterson, “Wiser than Solomon,” Biblical Studies Press, 2013.

6 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., A History of Israel (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1998), 284, 85.

7 Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus , The New American Commentary, ed. E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2006), 701.

8 H. C. Leupold, The Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), 679.

9 John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah:Chapters 1-39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 513.

10 George Herbert as quoted in Alistair Begg, The Hand of God (Chicago: Moody, 1999), 56.

11 John Haynes Holmes, “O God Whose Smile is in the Sky.”

12 Alfred Jepsen, “bāţach,” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren 5 vols. (Grand rapids; Eerdmans, 1975) 2: 92.

13 Franz Delitzsch , Biblical Commentary on the Psalms, trans. Francis Bolton 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955) 2: 12.

14 Willem A. Van Gemeren, “Psalms,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, rev. ed., 2008) 5: 342.

15 N.B., KJV, “I remembered God and was troubled.”

16 Leupold, The Psalms, 557.

17 It is of interest to note that, taken together, the two psalmists have pointed out key elements in the infinite Lord’s perfection: holiness (including justice) and love (including grace and mercy). (Note also Pss. 77: 8-9; 145:7-9).

18 For further details covering the imagery of the shepherd and the sheep, see “Sheep, Shepherd,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, eds. Leland Ryken, James. C. Wilhoit and Tremper Longman III (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 782-85.

19 VanGemeren, “Psalms, 848.

20 See further, Richard D. Patterson, “The Call-Answer Motif,” Biblical Studies Press, 2008.

21 Grant R. Osborne, Matthew, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 444.

22 J. Ramsey Michaels, “Hebrews,” Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream, Il, 2009) 17: 359.

23 R. T. France, “Hebrews, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, eds., Temper Longman III and David E. Garland, 13 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 13:67.

24 In an applied sense the Christian Sunday could well serve as an additional reminder of that assured hope of “Sabbath rest.” As John Newton (“Safely Through Another Week”) wrote,

“Day of all the week the best, emblem of eternal rest…
May the fruits of grace abound, bring relief for all complaints;
Thus may all our Sabbaths prove till we join the Church above.”

25 Philip Edgecombe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 161-62. A bit different and still more distant perspective is given by Kaiser, who suggests that for the author of Psalm 95 the offer of rest was ultimately tied up with the events of the second advent of the return of Messiah to this earth. Every other rest, apparently, was only an ‘earnest,’ a down payment, on the final Sabbath rest yet to come in the second advent.” Walter C. Kaiser Jr. The Promise-Plan of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 97.

26 Mark D. Futato, “Psalms,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, ed. Philip W. Comfort, 18 vols. (Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale House, 2009) 7:253.

27 Jean S. Pigott, “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.”

Related Topics: Christian Life, Spiritual Life, Suffering, Trials, Persecution