Spiritual Rest
Psalm 116:7
Return to your rest, O my soul; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

In reconciliation to God through Christ Jesus the soul regains its lost equilibrium, finds again the centre of repose for which it had been sighing in vain. What sensual pleasure, wealth, ease, honour, power, the applause of men — what even intellectual pursuits, and the domestic and social charities of life, fail to bestow, or bestow for the moment only to stimulate the thirst they seem to quench, in the ineffable sense of union with God the soul finds at lasts — rest, satisfaction, perfect peace.

1. This "rest" not bodily or physical, but mental or spiritual rest. When doubt and disbelief are gone, when the object of life is found in Christ, when God becomes the sure portion and sweetest joy of the heart, and the spirit within us, hitherto, it may be, groping bewildered amidst earthly hopes and pleasures, like one in the dark for the friendly hand, feels itself at last embraced in the sure grasp of strong and changeless love — then is the true rest of man, the stillness of the weary spirit in the everlasting arms. This is the only repose which is independent of outward circumstances. Even amidst the outer toil and distraction of the world, it is "the peace of God which keepeth the heart and mind." Nor does death, which disunites and disturbs all else, for a moment interrupt its continuity: for the rest of the soul in Christ is identical with the rest of heaven — "the rest which remaineth for the people of God."

2. It is the rest, not of immobility, but of equipoise. The rise of religion in the heart may be indicated by the bitter pangs of an awakened conscience, and by the painful struggle of spirit with sense, of the reviving element of moral freedom with the old and inveterate tyranny of sin in the soul. And it may only be by a long-protracted process of holy discipline that the soul attains at last to the complete mastery over self, the perfect inward harmony of a spirit in which every thought and feeling and desire are "brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." But when that glorious end is gained, then the "weary strife of frail humanity" is at an end, and a repose — oh how deep, how tranquil, how sublime! — diffuses itself throughout the spirit — a repose in which there is at once calmness and power, the sweet serenity of an infant's slumbers, yet the strength of an angel of God.

3. The true "rest" of the soul is that, not of inactivity, but of congenial exertion. As love to Christ deepens in the soul that is truly given to Him, the work which it prompts us to do for Him loses the feeling of effort, and passes into pleasure. Less and less of set purpose do we need to constrain the mind to think of Him, or to approach Him in the formal attitude of devotion. The idea of Christ in the holy mind becomes gradually blended with all the actions of its daily life; thought goes out to Him as by a divine instinct; an ever-acting attraction draws the heart upwards to its great and first object, and life becomes an unconscious yet continuous prayer. The transition from motive to act, from holy intention and design to holy doing, becomes less and less marked, until at last the will acquires an almost mechanical certainty, an almost unconscious smoothness and rapidity of action. And so, with the unfettered ease of one "who playeth well upon an instrument," from the many-stringed harp of life the soul renders up to God the sweet melody of holy deeds. Then indeed has it "returned into its rest."

(J. Caird, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

WEB: Return to your rest, my soul, for Yahweh has dealt bountifully with you.

Soul Rest
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