Praise God for Peace and Hope
Hope has long been expressed in songs. We see a pattern in Scripture of songs being sung when victory is recognized. For example, think of the song of Moses after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea (Exodus 15). Of Israel after this event, Psalm 106:12 says, “Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.” Think also of the song of Deborah and Barak after defeating Sisera (Judges 5) and many of Psalms. This is all over Scripture. Singing songs of praise is appropriate when realizing the victory given by God.
Isaiah 26 is a song that is expressed because of the victory of God’s people when He defeats their enemies and restores them. This song of triumph and hope contains many great thoughts, but consider these:
1. Peace comes through trusting God:
“Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (vv. 2-4)
Thinking of God as the Rock on which we can rely is powerful. Jesus taught that the wise will build their house on the rock (Matt 7:24-27). God is that rock. He is our refuge, the one in whom we will find peace and hope. Finding this peace is what Paul writes about, also:
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
Our minds, then, need to “stayed” on God, leaning on God, resting on Him, upheld by Him. This tells us how important it is to think on Him and His will continually. The mind needs to be focused, fixed on Jesus, constantly engaged in His ways. Then, we may have peace beyond comprehension.
2. Hope is expressed in resurrection terms:
“Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.” (v. 19)
While the concept of the resurrection is carried forward in the New Testament, God’s people were not unfamiliar with the terms that express it. God would bring His people back to life. Later, Ezekiel had the great vision of the valley of the dry bones. “Can these bones live?” God asked. “O, Lord, God, you know,” responded Ezekiel. Then Ezekiel was told to prophesy to the bones:
“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek 37:5-6)
The bones came together, flesh came upon the bones, and they lived. This is what God can do for His people. He can defeat death and bring the dead to life. In the New Testament, we know this as resurrection, and it is promised by our Lord (John 5:28-29). This is why, based on the resurrection of Jesus, we have been born again to a living hope (1 Pet 1:3-5).
Earlier in Isaiah 25, there is also language Christians ought to recognize:
“He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.” (Isa 25:8)
In Christ, death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor 15:54-57). The resurrection of Christ shows that God has won the victory, and we, too, can join in this victory over death: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is not without significance that the next verse tells us to be steadfast (v. 58). Remember, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
Further, tears are wiped away, an idea echoed in Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” What a grand thought!
Will we “trust in the Lord forever” knowing that “the Lord God is an everlasting rock”? If so, we, too, have reason to sing. “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise” (Jas 5:13). This is, after all, the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:1-2). We have peace and hope, which are inextricably tied together:
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom 5:1-2)