“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3
In this time of turmoil, mental anguish, confusion, truth simplified is at its best. When beset by conflict, anguish, fear we have little energy or inclination for complex theological computation. This verse epitomizes simplicity, yet in no way compromises the powerful promise of God.
In the end we all seek just one thing… peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Jesus is a priest according to the Order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek means King of Righteousness, but he was, also, the King of Salem(shalom), that is peace.
In our world peace means harmony, the absence of hostility, the absence of violence or conflict, or the fear thereof. The Biblical view of peace is more.
The Hebrew word translated peace in the cited verse is “shalom”. You may recognize this as a common Jewish expression, salutation or greeting, but it is so much more. The Hebrew concept of “shalom” meant wholeness, completeness, soundness, health, safety, prosperity, and had staying power, the implication of permanence because it was rooted in God.
Compare and contrast the two terms: peace as over against shalom. The one is fragile, the other enduring; one exists primarily as an antithesis to the negative(fear, violence, conflict); the other is a stand alone, it exists only and always as a positive; one is primarily one dimensional, a state of mind; the other encompasses the whole man, the whole body, the whole human experience.
Interestingly enough, the phrase translated “perfect peace” in Isaiah 26:3 is literally “shalom shalom”, a double portion of peace. Peace upon peace. Perhaps a peace so great that it defies description.
I believe a well known Biblical personage may have paraphrased this concept in his letter to the Philippians: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:7)
Who would not want to experience this peace? How do we obtain this peace? Jesus is the Prince of Peace, His atonement alone is the source of such peace. In the New Testament we are admonished to “keep our eyes upon Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith”. I submit that the same concept is embodied in Isaiah 26:3.
The assurance stated at the beginning of the verse is that God will keep “him”, or “the one”, in perfect peace. Who is “him” or “the one”? The one is “whose mind is stayed on you”. The New Living Translation captures the concept beautifully, “all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Lastly, there is causation. What causes God to keep such a one in perfect peace? It’s not just that they have set their mind on God, it’s “because he trusts in You.” It all starts, and ends, there.
The Hebrew word here translated “trust” means to be bold, confident, secure, sure, be a careless one, to put confidence in. I love the thought of carelessness in this context. I am so confident that God has my back that I am without a care, I am “careless”. Not stupid, so cared for that I am care-less.
So in the midst of the covid-19 storm, a very real storm, where the winds of media coverage threaten to undo us, where waves of fear of the unknown threaten to shipwreck our faith, there is an antidote. Shalom, shalom. Peace, peace. Perfect peace. It is yours for the asking…