Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he brings them to their desired haven.
So he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be (Prayer-book Version). The picture of the sea connected with this text is "painted as a landsman would paint it, but yet only as one who had himself been exposed to the danger could paint the storm - the waves running mountains high, on which the tiny craft seemed a plaything; the helplessness of human skill, the gladness of the calm, the safe refuge in the haven." It is difficult for those who love the sea to enter into the feelings with which Eastern people in olden times, and especially the Israelites, regarded it. That feeling of mystery and dread must have been intense before Solomon's time, when a commercial navy was employed in both the Mediterranean and Red Seas. For the severity of a storm in the Mediterranean, the story of Jonah, and of St. Paul's shipwreck, may be studied. What seems more especially to have influenced ancient minds was the constant unrest of the sea. This is reflected in many of the Bible references to it; and this has always struck both poetic and pious minds.
I. THE FASCINATION OF REST. To man it is the supreme idea of heaven; it is the perfection of bliss on earth. That not so much because of toil, as because of change and trouble. The rest man seeks is not rest from work, but rest from worry. The activity of work is, for healthy minds and bodies, the truest rest. But uncertainty, change, anxiety, make us long for the moral rest, which can only come when God's will is no longer checked by man's. It is not the rest of the grave man wants; it is the rest of the "desired haven" - the rest of the moral issue of life. Every man is, according to his own idea, moving towards and into rest. Alas! that so many make shipwreck.
II. THE SYMBOL OF REST. A "desired haven." Harbor after a long and stormy voyage. "In the fierce gales of November or March, when the shrieking blasts drive furiously up the channel, and the huge mountain-billows, green and white, open threatening graves on every side, how welcome would be a safe harbor, easy of access, and placed at a part of the coast which else would be unsheltered for many leagues on either side!" (Gosse). "The stately ships go on, to the harbor under the hill" (Tennyson). The point suggestive of practical teachings is thrown out by the Prayer-book Version. Our "desired haven" is, "the haven where we would be." It is the realization of our life-objects, of our hopes; and so we are led to discuss men's life-aims. Their rest, when they gain it, too often proves to be no rest. He only reaches rest that is rest indeed, who has voyaged life's seas in hope of entering at last the harbor of God. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.