Verse 7. Return, unto thy rest, O my soul. He calls the rest still his own, and feels full liberty to return to it. What a mercy it is that even if our soul has left its rest for a while we can tell it -- "it is thy rest still." The Psalmist had evidently been somewhat disturbed in mind, his troubles had ruffled his spirit but now with a sense of answered prayer upon him he quiets his soul. He had rested before, for he knew the blessed repose of faith, and therefore he returns to the God who had been the refuge of his soul in former days. Even as a bird flies to its nest, so does his soul fly to his God. Whenever a child of God even for a moment loses his peace of mind, he should be concerned to find it again, not by seeking it in the world or in his own experience, but in the Lord alone. When the believer prays, and the Lord inclines his ear, the road to the old rest is before him, let him not be slow to follow it.
For the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. Thou hast served a good God, and built upon a sure foundation; go not about to find any other rest, but come back to him who in former days hath condescended to enrich thee by his love. What a text is this! and what an exposition of it is furnished by the biography of every believing man and woman! The Lord hath dealt bountifully with us, for he hath given us his Son, and in him he hath given us all things: he hath sent us his Spirit, and by him he conveys to us all spiritual blessings. God dealeth with us like a God; he lays his fulness open to us, and of that fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. We have sat at no niggard's table, we have been clothed by no penurious hand, we have been equipped by no grudging provider; let us come back to him who has treated us with such exceeding kindness. More arguments follow.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. The Psalmist had been at a great deal of unrest, and much off the hooks, as we say; now, having prayed (for prayer hath vim pacativam, a pacifying property), he calls his soul to rest; and rocks it asleep in a spiritual security. Oh, learn this holy art; acquaint thyself with God, acquiesce in him, and be at peace; so shall good be done unto thee. Job 22:21 . Sis Sabbathum Christi. Luther. John Trapp.
Verse 7. Gracious souls rest in God; they and none else. Whatever others may speak of a rest in God, only holy souls know what it means. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, to thy rest in calm and cheerful submission to God's will, delight in his service, satisfaction in his presence, and joy in communion begun with him here below, which is to be perfected above in its full fruition. Holy souls rest in God, and in his will; in his will of precept as their sovereign Lord, whose commands concerning all things are right, and in the keeping of which there is great reward; in his will of providence as their absolute owner, and who does all things well; in himself as their God, their portion, and their chief good, in whom they shall have all that they can need, or are capable of enjoying to complete their blessedness for ever. Daniel Wilcox.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest. Return to that rest which Christ gives to the weary and heavy laden, Matthew 11:28 . Return to thy Noah, his name signifies rest, as the dove when she found no rest returned to the ark. I know no word more proper to close our eyes with at night when we go to sleep, nor to close them with at death, that long sleep, than this, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul." Matthew Henry.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest. Consider the variety of aspects of that rest which a good man seeks, and the ground upon which he will endeavour to realize it. It consists in,
- Rest from the perplexities of ignorance, and the wanderings of error.
- Rest from the vain efforts of self righteousness, and the disquietude of a proud and legal spirit.
- Rest from the alarms of conscience, and the apprehensions of punishment hereafter.
- Rest from the fruitless struggles of our degenerate nature, and unaided conflicts with indwelling sin.
- Rest from the fear of temporal suffering and solicitude arising from the prospect of danger and trial.
- Rest from the distraction of uncertainty and indecision of mind, and from the fluctuations of undetermined choice. R. S. M'All.
Verse 7. Return, ykwf. This is the very word which the angel used to Hagar when she fled from her mistress, "Return," Genesis 16:9 . As Hagar through her mistress' rough dealing with her fled from her; so the soul of this prophet by reason of affliction fell from its former quiet confidence in God. As the angel therefore biddeth Hagar "return to her mistress," so the understanding of this prophet biddeth his soul return to its rest. William Gouge.
Verse 7. Rest. The word "rest" is put in the plural, as indicating complete and entire rest, at all times, and under all circumstances. A. Edersheim.
Verse 7-8. For the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. He hath dealt indeed most bountifully with thee, for where thou didst make suit but for one thing, he hath granted thee three. Thou didst ask but to have my soul delivered, and he hath delivered mine eyes and my feet besides; and with a deliverance in each of them the greatest that could be: for what greater deliverance to my soul than to be delivered from death? What greater deliverance to my eyes than to be delivered from tears? What to my feet than to be delivered from falling? That if now, O my soul, thou return not to thy rest, thou wilt show thyself to be most insatiable; seeing thou hast not only more than thou didst ask, but as much indeed as was possible to be asked.
But can my soul die? and if not, what bounty is it to deliver my soul from that to which it is not subject? The soul indeed, though immortal, hath yet her ways of dying. It is one kind of death to the soul to be parted from the body, but the truest kind is to be parted from God; and from both these kinds of death he hath delivered my soul. From the first, by delivering me from a dangerous sickness that threatened a dissolution of my soul and body; from the other, by delivering me from the guilt of sin, which threatened a separation from the favour of God; and are not these bounties so great as to give my soul just cause of returning to her rest? Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 7, 9. Return unto thy rest, O my soul.... I will walk. How can these two stand together? Motus et quies private opponuntur, saith the philosopher, motion and rest are opposite; now walking is a motion, as being an act of the locomotive faculty. How then could David return to his rest and yet walk? You must know that walking and rest here mentioned, being of a divine nature, do not oppose each other; spiritual rest maketh no man idle, and therefore it is no enemy to walking; spiritual walking maketh no man weary, and therefore it is no enemy to rest. Indeed, they are so far from being opposite that they are subservient to each other, and it is hard to say whether that rest be the cause of this walking, or this walking a cause of that rest. Indeed, both are true, since he that rests in God cannot but walk before him, and by walking before, we come to rest in God. Returning to rest is an act of confidence, since there is no rest to be had but in God, nor in God but by believing affiance in, and reliance on him. Walking before God is an act of obedience; when we disobey we wander and go astray, only by obedience we walk. Now these two are so far from being enemies, that they are companions and ever go together; confidence being a means to quicken obedience, and obedience to strengthen confidence. Nathaniel Hardy.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. Rest in God may be said to belong to the people of God on a fourfold account.
- By designation. The rest which the people of God have in him is the result of his own purpose and design, taken up from his mere good pleasure and love.
- By purchase. The rest which they wanted as creatures they had forfeited as sinners. This, therefore, Christ laid down his life to procure.
- By promise. This is God's kind engagement. He has said, "My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest," Exodus 33:14 .
- By their own choice gracious souls have a rest in God. D. Wilcox.
Verse 7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul. When, or upon what occasion a child of God should use the Psalmist's language.
- After converse with the world in the business of his calling every day.
- When going to the sanctuary on the Lord's day.
- In and under any trouble he may meet with.
- When departing from this world at death. D. Wilcox.
- The rest of the soul: "My rest," this is in God.
- The soul was created to find its rest in God.
- On that account it cannot find rest elsewhere.
- Its departure from that rest. This is implied in the word "Return."
- Its return.
- By repentance.
- By faith, in the way provided for its return.
- By prayer.
- Its encouragement to return.
- Not in itself, but in God.
- Not in the justice, but in the goodness of God: "for the Lord," etc. "The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." G.R.