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Real Rest

What I feared has come upon me;
    what I dreaded has happened to me.
I have no peace, no quietness;
    I have no rest, but only turmoil.

Job 3:25-26

I read the book of Job last week, and I’ve been thinking about this concept of rest. Then on Sunday, our pastor mentioned rest in his sermon. Rest is a common topic in pop psychology but also a significant theme in scripture.

One Hebrew word for rest in the Old Testament is nuach, meaning “a state of quiet and rest from burdens, work or enemy.” The Psalmist, David, teaches us much about rest.

While the word “rest” does not occur in Psalm 23, David provides a beautiful word picture of rest given to us for His name’s sake. Our Good Shepherd leads us beside still waters, invites us to lie down – the natural posture for rest. And while lying beside those still waters, our Shepherd refreshes our soul. He provides for us a feast while our enemies look on.

In Psalm 37, David speaks to rest when he admonishes us to trust the Lord, dwell in the land, and enjoy safe pasture. We experience rest in safety, but also pasture. Sheep are grazing animals. They are at rest when the grasses are plentiful. We are also at rest when His righteousness fills our souls.

David continues this idea of rest in Psalm 116. He speaks to his soul, inviting himself to return to rest because of God’s goodness. David reminds us that God is gracious, righteous, and compassionate. God saves us in our affliction.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-6

I love how David bookends his despair with his declaration of rest in God. David teaches us that our difficult circumstances do not shake us because our rest, hope, and salvation are in God. God is our unshakeable ROCK!

In Isaiah 63, Isaiah writes about the history of God’s people, recalling their deliverance from the Egyptians. He notes that the Spirit of the Lord gave the Israelites rest. Isaiah, in his commentary, states that this is how God guides His people to make a glorious name for Himself.

Unfortunately, the Israelites did not always choose to follow God’s guidance, and they forfeited their rest.

This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is,
and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16

Just like the Israelites, God offers us rest for our souls! Jesus’ invitation to those of us who are weary and burdened still stands. His yoke is not heavy, not one of rules, but of an intimate relationship. Jesus, who is gentle and humble, invites us to learn from Him. He is for us. Jesus gave His life to save us and lives now to intercede for us.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Father, I want to learn from you. Teach me about your good way so that I can walk in it and deepen that rest you offer to me. May I also be a conduit of your gentleness and humility to others so that they, too, will experience rest for their souls.

Jesus, I am resting, resting
in the joy of what thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
of thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon thee,
as thy beauty fills my soul,
for by thy transforming power,
thou hast made me whole.

O how great thy lovingkindness,
vaster, broader than the sea!
O how marvelous thy goodness
lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in thee, Beloved,
know what wealth of grace is thine,
know thy certainty of promise
and have made it mine.

Simply trusting thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold thee as thou art,
and thy love, so pure, so changeless,
satisfies my heart;
satisfies its deepest longings,
meets, supplies its ev’ry need,
compasseth me round with blessings:
thine is love indeed.

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.

Jean Sophia Pigott, 1876

*I wrote a gratitude post about rest in November 2020. Check it out here.

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