Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way…
The trial for which this precept is intended to strengthen us is the irritation to which all are tempted by the sight of successful wickedness. But there shall be a setting right of all such seeming injustice. But the precept has a wider application than this.
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN HOLDING OURSELVES STILL IN GOD. The word "still" means "hold thee in stillness upon God." It is the quality of mind which is the opposite of restlessness. And we are to "hold still in God" in reference both to things temporal and things spiritual. Restlessness has a twofold sort of bitterness which trust in God must extirpate.
1. It springs from dissatisfaction with the present, or from anxiety about the future. There is a deep melancholy in the heart of every man, bound up in the very bundle of his life, which, like the breath of myrrh, is ever ready to spread itself over all his being; and in spirits of the deepest tone there is most of this: it is the yearning after our true portion, but it will make all life restless unless we learn to lean upon God, believing that He is Truth and Love, and is ours through Christ Jesus. In common life this must be our rest; and in great sorrow too. Then we must learn to be at rest, not indeed by striving unnaturally not to feel sorrow, but by our taking the sorrow from God. It is not being sanguine, but being trustful, that is required of us.
2. And in things spiritual the precept is just the same. Stillness the very opposite of self-trust, which is the common root of these two false schemes — seemingly so opposite — of the spiritual life — the life of the mere formalist, and that of him who is engaged in a heart-eating searching into his own frame and feelings. For both are building on self, not on God. It is not that silence of spirit, that meditation and stillness, that uniting upon God which are so closely connected with true religion. And this stillness is, perhaps, that feature of religion which is most seldom to be met with in our day. It is a busy age, and we love activity. We need to be silent before God in order to realize our personal reconciliation with Him through the blood of Atonement, to walk in His Spirit, to spend our lives as His obedient, trusting children. Now, this is the essence of Christianity.
II. IT IS MOST BLESSED, both in regard to our temporal life and that which is spiritual. For in it we become transformed and bear God's impress. All growth is silent. It is not in the lordly storm, or in the over-mastering hurricane that Nature puts forth her powers of growth and increase. It is amidst the drenching dews, in the still dawning of the spring-time, that the leaf unfolds itself, and the tender shoot steals upwards. And these works of nature are all symbols of the inner growth. In times of quietness the heart unfolds itself before God. If you would grow in grace, enter into thy closet and shut to thy door upon the world; shut it most of all upon thy busy unresting self, and then God shall speak to thee. How silent, surely, is an angel's heart when God is nigh; how is self hushed there; how, as some earthly vapour by the sun, is every power of His mighty being drawn up into adoration! And this truly is to know Him.
III. How ARE WE TO GROW IN THIS GREAT GRACE? And, first, need I say, that such growth must be the work of His grace. That it is not natural to us; that nothing is, indeed, less natural. Only the Spirit brooding over our hearts can secure this. He renews, calms, cools, purifies them. He who said to the waves, "Peace, be still," must create this great calm. Therefore must we draw near to God if we would win so great a blessing. This must be our rule. Draw near to Him in the covenant of His Son's blood: to Him as the Loving, the True, the Great: as Love, as Truth, as Holiness, as Power, gathered into one adorable Person; one real Being; and that Being your portion, your friend, your rest: for "this is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."
(Bishop S. Wilberforce.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.