You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.…
If we may suppose the invocation of the preceding verses to be addressed to the watchers at the gate of the strong city, it is perhaps not too fanciful to suppose that the invitation in my text is the watchers' answer, pointing the way by which men may pass into the city. At all events, I take it as by no means accidental that immediately upon the statement of the Old Testament law that righteousness alone admits to the presence of God, there follows so clear and emphatic an anticipation of the great New Testament Gospel that faith is the condition of righteousness, and that immediately after hearing that only "the righteous nation which keepeth the truth" can enter there, we hear the merciful call, "Trust ye in the Lord forever."
I. THE INSIGHT INTO THE TRUE NATURE OF TRUST OR FAITH GIVEN BY THE WORD EMPLOYED HERE. The literal meaning of the expression here rendered "to trust" is to lean upon anything. And that is the trust of the Old Testament; the faith of the New.
II. THE STEADFAST PEACEFULNESS OF TRUST. (See R.V. margin.) It is the steadfast mind, steadfast because it trusts, which God keeps in the deepest peace that is expressed by the reduplication of the word. And if we break up that complex thought into its elements it just comes to this —
1. Trust makes steadfastness. No man can steady his life except by clinging to a holdfast without himself.
2. The steadfast mind is rewarded in that it is kept of God. The real fixity and solidity of a human character comes more surely and fully through trust in God than by any other means; on the other hand, it is true that, in order to receive the full blessed effects of trust into our characters and lives, we must persistently and doggedly keep on in the attitude of confidence.
3. Then, still further, this faithful, steadfast heart and mind, kept by God, is a mind filled with deepest peace. There is something very beautiful in the prophet's abandoning the attempt to find any adjective or quality which adequately characterises the peace of which he has been speaking. He falls back upon the expedient which is the confession of the impotence of human speech worthily to portray its subject when he simply says, "Thou shalt keep in peace because he trusteth in Thee." The reduplication expresses the depth, the completeness of the tranquillity which flows into the heart. Such continuity, wave after wave, or rather ripple after ripple, is possible even for us. For the possession of this deep, unbroken peace does not depend on the absence of conflict, of distraction, trouble, or sorrow, but on the presence of God.
III. THE WORTHINESS OF THE DIVINE NAME TO EVOKE AND THE POWER OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER TO REWARD THE TRUST. "In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."
I. The words feebly rendered in the A.V., "everlasting strength," are literally "the Rock of Ages"; and this verse is the source of that hallowed figure which, by one of the greatest of our English hymns, is made familiar and immortal to all English-speaking. people.
2. But there is another peculiarity about the words, and that is that here we have, for one of the only two times in which the expression occurs in Scripture, the great name of Jehovah reduplicated. "In Jah Jehovah is the Rock of Ages." In the former verse the prophet had given up in despair the attempt to characterise the peace which God gave, and fallen back upon the expedient of naming it twice over. In this verse, with similar eloquence of reticence, he abandons the attempt to describe or characterise that great name, and once more, in adoration, contents himself with twice taking it upon his lips, in order to impress what he cannot express, the majesty and the sufficiency of that name. What, then, is the force of that name?
(1) Jehovah, in its literal grammatical signification, puts emphasis upon the absolute, underived, and therefore unlimited, unconditioned, unchangeable, eternal being of God. "I am that I am." In that name is the Rock of Ages.
(2) That mighty name, by its place in the history of revelation, conveys to us still further thoughts, for it is the name of the God who entered into covenant with His ancient people, and remains bound by His covenant to bless us.
3. The metaphor needs no expansion. We understand that it conveys the idea of unchangeable defence.
IV. THE SUMMONS TO TRUST. We know not whose voice it is that is heard in the last words of my text, but we know to whose ears it is addressed. It is to all. "Trust ye in the Lord forever."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.