“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3
Isaiah 26 is a song of great comfort and praise, composed while the inspired prophet reflected on the great day of salvation. What a day that will be! Freedom from sin and all its effects! Full and final deliverance, along with the consummation of God’s covenant in heaven with glorified soul and body!
It was a most important, needful song because of the troubles that the Old Testament church and believer in Isaiah’s time would yet have to face. For Zion shall be redeemed with judgment (cf. Is. 1:27). And that judgment will come with all kinds of far-reaching implications for the church, which she must bear for her good and salvation! Therefore, in preparation for those troubles that will come, God’s people must be constantly reminded of Jehovah God’s salvation and its precious benefits, including the promise of Isaiah 26:3.
That promise of God’s precious peace has been inscripturated for God’s people throughout all ages in this song of chapter 26. “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah, we have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks” (v. 1). Then comes the call to “open the gates”—not for everyone, but for “the righteous nation” to enter (v. 2)!
What a blessing this call is! For if the gates were shut, we would be outside of the city and have no protection against our enemies! But in and through the promised Christ, the righteous one, we have access into the city by His righteousness accomplished on the cross. We have a strong city that the enemy cannot enter, providing a place of safety, rest, and peace for our weary souls. For in that city, we have a strong Keeper who cares for each one of its inhabitants. Therefore, let our focus be on Him and His reassuring word to us as He promises to keep us in perfect peace!
What is this peace? One way to understand peace is by considering its exact opposite: war. When there is war, towns and cities are bombed, villages are shelled, and the sounds of explosions and guns firing can be heard all around. When war takes place, many have lost or are losing their lives through conflict. When war occurs, lives are under constant threat and danger from day to day.
But then, how sweet is deliverance from war! Ah, liberation! Sweet liberation! The fruit of which is peace! No more conflict! No more constant fighting, killing, bombing! No more people dying from all these things! No more running away and hiding! Peace! Precious peace!
Only let us understand that God here speaks not of an earthly peace but a spiritual peace. The opposite of which is a spiritual war, the conflict of sin: rebellion against God. In this war, the misery is that of our sin and depravity. The guilt of sin. The punishment of sin. And the practical out-workings and implications of sin, including distress, disease, and death. For the wages of sin is death!
But now, when God comes to deliver and liberate us from the bondage of sin and death, there is peace! Peace that is a state of safety and tranquility, and that even transcends this to the enjoyment of sweet fellowship with God in Jesus Christ! This is a peace that comes from the perfect righteousness of God, outside of us in Jesus Christ, and imputed to us through faith (cf. Rom. 5:1). This is a peace from the misery and unrest of sin. From the punishment of sin. From the guilt of sin. This is a precious peace that is experienced in the midst of our troubles. For this is a peace that stares into the face of all wars and troubles of earthly life and causes us to be unmoved—indeed, to rest perfectly in God. That’s the peace that comes from embracing the precious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
That is the peace that God’s Word sets forth to us here—a perfect peace! Literally, the text reads, “Peace, Peace.” A double peace! That is, a true peace! For it conveys the fullness and wholesomeness of peace. There are two aspects to such peace.
First, this is a peace of infinite degree, and therefore of infinite efficacy. In this connection, it is helpful to be reminded of the inspired Paul’s description of this peace that comes through prayer: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). It is of infinite degree because this is the peace of the God of peace, who is Himself infinite in His glory, infinite in His holiness, infinite in His love and mercy toward us in Jesus! This is why this peace “passeth all understanding.”
There is mystery but not contradiction as to the details of God’s wonderful operation of bestowing this peace—an operation that goes beyond our puny minds. But God does give us to understand that this peace “keeps” or guards our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Think of our hearts and minds as a fortress, and our worries and anxieties as enemies laying siege upon that fortress—battering us, assaulting us, and putting us under oppression and grief. Peace is the guard or sentinel that God places over our hearts and minds that fends off all our worries and anxieties!
Is it any wonder then, that in the second place, this is a peace that is all comprehensive? This peace that God promises covers all things! It was what caused the same apostle Paul to confess what he did in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is a peace that abides with us, victorious over sin and death! It stares at sin, knowing that we are sinners, and is not afraid because the holy faith that is in us directs us away from ourselves and causes us to look to Jesus and find all our righteousness in Him! It confronts death, and is not afraid because it knows that Jesus has obtained the victory for us over death and the grave by His cross: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:55-57). And this peace also faces all the troubles and trials of our earthly pilgrimage and is not and will never be afraid, for it causes us to be at rest with God! Truly its scope is all comprehensive!
Do you know this perfect peace? It is so important that you do. And you do and will know it, if you are a child of God! You will because of Him. Our faith, and therefore, our knowledge of faith, is weak, and at times so weak that it is a faint, flickering light. But God is faithful and cannot deny Himself (cf. II Tim. 2:13). So He will preserve that light of faith He has put in us. He will cause it to continue to glow, and thus to burn and to shine brightly once again. Even when the activity of our faith is weak, because the bond of faith by which we are engrafted into Jesus ever abides, there will come a time when faith becomes strong again.
One way in which our faithful God, who is mindful of our frailty (cf. Psalter #281:1, Ps. 103), strengthens us and gives us the peace we need is through His precious promises, even this promise, a promise of peace that is enjoyed by us in the way of faith.
Isaiah took to heart this promise of being kept in peace by trusting in God, and so must we: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (emphasis added). The psalmist gives similar expression to trusting in God in Psalm 112:7: “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord.” We are kept in perfect peace in the way of trusting in the Lord—with our heart and our mind—fixed on Him!
How we need to be reminded of that when our minds and hearts are at odds with God concerning what is truly good for us or for our loved ones in Christ! That is when our thoughts can lead us into trouble and restlessness! The cure for trouble and restlessness is for our minds to be fixed on God. It is to call to mind His precious Word. It is to trust in Him by His blessed grace! The cure is not found in trusting in ourselves, by having our minds fixed on ourselves and our thoughts and opinions, but by having our minds fixed on God! We enjoy peace in our hearts only when our minds are fixed on Him, stayed on Him!
The Hebrew original means “to lean on Him for support.” Think of old, dying Jacob mentioned in Hebrews 11, who demonstrated his faith in his dying moments in such a powerful way—when he worshiped God—not by lying down on his deathbed, but by leaning upon the top of his staff! The spiritual reality spoken of in verse 3b is that faith leans entirely on God for support. It does so with mind and heart fixed, stayed, indeed riveted on Him!
How humbling it is for us to do so! But even more, how wonderful it is for us to do so by the power of His grace! For the object of our support is God, and His everlasting strength holds us up when we feel cast down—and never fails! Weak is our faith. But how strong is the God who holds us up and supports us with His everlasting strength! Therefore, in the way of faith, we unfailingly experience being kept in the perfect peace of God, which flows out of a mind that is fixed and stayed on Him!
In like manner, that is also how we enjoy the blessed assurance that the God who makes this precious promise of keeping us in perfect peace will do so: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” He does so not for everyone, but for the righteous nation whom He sent His beloved Son to redeem. All those chosen in Christ, and them alone. Everyone of His dear children. And if He is willing to go to the extreme of that gift and sacrifice of His Son for us, will He not keep His promises to us, the objects of His Son’s redemption? He will! He will for He is our faithful covenant God! “Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Is. 26:4).