With all that is going on in the world, it is hard to see any prospect for peace. If you lived in Israel or Gaza, Russia or Ukraine, would you see any possibility of peace in the near future? Probably not. But think back to the Old Testament during Isaiah’s time. He was God’s prophet during the reigns of four different kings. Those “years in Israel’s history were a time of great struggle both politically and spiritually. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was deteriorating politically, spiritually, and militarily and finally fell to the Assyrian Empire in 722 B.C. The Southern Kingdom of Judah looked as though it too would collapse and fall to Assyria, but it withstood the attack. In this political struggle and spiritual decline Isaish rose to deliver a message to the people in Judah. his message was that they should trust in … God.”1
It was during these times, that God led Isaiah to write a song about the future He had in store for those who trusted in God.
- What does it say?
Isaiah 26 is a song for the people of Judah. It is a song of rejoicing about God’s salvation and protection. The gates of the city would be opened for a nation that kept God’s truth. The people were exhorted to trust in the Lord because He can bring down those who are from the proud, lofty city (presumably an enemy nation that had oppressed Judah). The rest of the song shows the difference between those who refuse to acknowledge God in their lives and those who do. These rejecters of God will eventually be destroyed. While the believers at this time were enduring some difficulties, they were willing to wait for the time that God punishes the wicked and brings peace back to their land. The words of verse 3 are part of this song to the Lord.
When you look at this verse in several translations, you will notice that the translators have added several words in italics to help it to be better understood in English. If you were to remove the italicized words from the NKJV, it would become something like this:
You will keep in perfect peace mind stayed because he trusts in You.
And if we rearrange it to make better sense in English:
You will keep the stayed mind in perfect peace because he trusts in You.
If we were to rearrange the verse according to the cause and effect, it would begin with the trusting and end with God’s response.
Because he trusts in God, God gives him a stayed mind and perfect peace.
So all of that leads us back to what this verse is saying. When a person is trusting God, he or she will have a stayed mind and perfect peace.
- What does it mean?
We have to first understand what “mind” means in this verse.
The mind here “denotes anything that is formed by the mind — its thoughts, imaginations, devices.”2 For instance, notice how the word was translated in the following verses.
Gen. 8:21 – “And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.”
Do you see how the word is used here? The same word for mind is translated “imagination” here. This should remind us of how things were before the Flood. God had said that the intent of their hearts was constantly evil. After the Flood, God promised to be merciful despite the evil “imaginations” they had. So, the mind includes our imaginations or the things that we think we might do at some point.
Deut. 31:21 – “Then it shall be, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them to the land of which I swore to give them.”
Do you see how the word is used here? The same word for mind is translated “inclination.” Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, God noted that they were inclined to bad behavior. So the word mind also includes our disposition toward doing things. A person with evil inclinations will naturally follow that thinking and do evil. But the person who is inclined toward good things will do what is good.
We have to understand what “stayed” means in this verse.
My first thought was that this means a focused concentration. With that idea, the person who trusts in God would be focused on God. While that is true, “the Hebrew does not express the idea that the mind is stayed on God, though that is evidently implied. The Hebrew is simply, whose mind is stayed, supported by God.”2 This support makes me think of the guide wires that are attached to mobile phone towers. Those tall towers would easily fall down if they were not “stayed” by so many guide wires. So it is with a supported mind.
Summary: We all have thoughts, imaginations, and inclinations. Our thoughts lead to attitudes, words, feelings, and eventually actions. Someone who has a stayed mind is someone whose thinking, imaginations, and inclinations are supported by God. His mind doesn’t fall apart when facing troubles. When put together with the rest of the verse, the idea is that someone who chooses to trust God will have the support of God in his thinking and that will result in perfect peace.
- How does it apply?
Peace is something that many people want. At this moment, there are millions of people who are in the middle of a war. They have lost their homes, family members, and the hope that things will ever get back to normal. There are many people who are dealing with a sick relative who are wondering if that person will ever recover, if their hospital bills will ever be paid, and if the hurt will ever go away. There are others who are looking at their finances and wondering how they will be able to meet upcoming expenses. It seems that every week uncovers another unexpected expense and there is no hope that things will change.
We need to trust in God.
What this verse teaches us is that we need to trust God. The people who lived during Isaiah’s time faced some serious obstacles. Because the leadership and the majority of the people had rejected God’s warnings, they were facing God’s judgment. They would eventually be overcome by Babylon and taken into captivity. And they could do nothing to stop it. But they could choose to trust in God. No matter what happened, they could trust in God. And that is what some of them did. Do you know any of the captives who were taken to Babylon? I think you may remember Daniel, Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego. They trusted God and found that He was completely trustworthy.
Will you trust in the Lord for your current difficulties? While you may not be facing war, health issues, or financial upheaval, it may be something else like stress. I have to admit that this is my biggest difficulty right now. There are many things going on at the same time that need my attention. And these things affect my body and mind. How can I get from stress to peace? I need to trust God for help. So do all of us.
God will support us with peace.
While we all want God’s peace, it is only given to those who start with trusting Him. When we finally put our complete confidence and trust in Him, He promises to support us with His perfect peace. This is the same peace that Paul mentioned in the New Testament.
Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Peace is not the same as God removing all of your troubles. Peace isn’t necessarily making your life easier. However, it is God’s support during your struggles. As you trust Him, He supports you by holding your thoughts together and causing you to see that He will be with you through the day. Remember what He has promised: ““I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). Add to that the promise of future grace when Jesus returns (1 Pet. 1:13) and you have the recipe for thoughts that are supported by God’s presence and His promises.
1 Martin 1029.
2 Barnes Notes
Martin, John A., “Isaiah” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989.