“Say to him: Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly because of these two smoldering sticks, the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and the son of Remaliah.” Isaiah 7:4 (CSB)
It’s that phone call in the middle of the night as the parent of a rebellious teen.
Or it’s the loss of a close friendship over a misunderstanding.
Maybe it is the sudden sickness of an aging parent or a criticism from your co-worker delivered unexpectedly at work.
So many moments in time can threaten to steal our peace of mind and cause worry to seep into our souls.
On those days when I start to fret, I’d like to say that I quickly “put my Jesus on,” taking my worries to the Lord in prayer. But if I’m being honest, the first thing I typically think about doing is chatting about it with my husband or a friend. I’m always certain they will give me some great advice that will help to calm my fears.
But the words of counsel from those at the top of my contacts list aren’t the only reason I want to pick up the phone to call them.
It also has to do with my own words. You see, when I start to feel worry welling up in my heart, my lips want a piece of the action. I just can’t seem to stop talking about my troubles at hand! And sometimes my talking turns into complaining.
It can be healthy to talk about what weighs us down, especially with a godly friend, spouse or counselor, as it allows us to see all sides of a situation and process our emotions. However, complaints and gossip are counterproductive. (James 5:9)
In the seventh chapter of Isaiah, we happen upon the Old Testament prophet Isaiah conveying a message from God to King Ahaz regarding a troubling situation in Israel. Thankfully, Isaiah's message was one of reassurance. Even though the two invading kings, Rezin and Aram — “smoldering sticks” — were threatening, ultimately they would not prevail (Isaiah 7:4).
God spoke to Isaiah in today’s key verse:
“Say to him: Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly because of these two smoldering sticks, the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and the son of Remaliah” (Isaiah 7:4).
Isaiah’s script for the little pep talk began with this five-word directive: “Calm down and be quiet” (Isaiah 7:4a). The original Hebrew word shamar used in this verse means “to be careful, to watch, to take note and to wait” (or “calm down”). And the meaning of the Hebrew word shaqat, translated “be quiet,” means “to refrain from making noise, to be peaceful, pacified, to be at rest, or to be undisturbed.”
When facing trying times, our hearts and minds don’t naturally go to a place of peaceful rest. We aren’t elated to watch and wait. And our souls are far from undisturbed.
But this passage isn’t saying these feelings and actions are our initial and innate response. Far from it. They are thoughts and actions we must purposefully pursue. When we determine to center our minds on God rather than on the problem at hand, we can experience the calm He offers us. When we fix our eyes on God and watch Him work, the Lord will help us not to be shaken or unsettled.
Next, Isaiah was to deliver a second five-word sermon: “Don’t be afraid or cowardly …” (Isaiah 7:4b). While the Hebrew equivalent of “afraid” has the same meaning as our English word, the Hebrew word for “cowardly” (rakak) is more nuanced. This verb refers to growing soft, weak or fainthearted.
When the worries and cares of life begin to make us fear — weakening our resolve and causing us to be faint of heart — may we remember this ancient advice from God to the king: to calm down and be quiet. It worked for King Ahaz, and it can benefit us today.
Instead of making noise with our mouths by grumbling to a friend to try to solve our problems, let’s decide we will honor God in our conversations. And we will look to the Lord to find rest and discover His peace. Only when we do that will we finally find our hearts undisturbed.
Let’s bend our knees in prayer before grabbing the phone, taking our cares to King Jesus first.
Gracious Father, I long to take the cares of my heart to You, allowing my circumstances to draw me closer to You through prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
If you long to spend time calming your worried heart with truths from Scripture, you will find a great resource in Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk’s newest devotional, Trusting God in All the Things: 90 Devotions for Finding Peace in Your Every Day.
Today Karen is giving away a “Keep Calm and Pray On” gift basket of resources and goodies. Head to her Instagram to enter to win.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Exodus 14:14, “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (NLT)
How does knowing that the Lord will fight for you enable you to remain calm when life threatens to rattle you?
We love our readers’ input! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2023 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
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