Why is it hard to "find rest"? The answer is simple: we somewhat believe that if we take some "time out" we will be missing out on the productivity and the profit that comes with us doing work. Especially in societies which are built on capitalism, and a "by the hour" wages, it becomes increasingly hard for people to put their tools down and simply rest and take a break.
Psalm 92 is a great place to reflect on some truths that form the basis of "our resting place" as believers. It is the only Psalm that is tagged "A Song for the Sabbath" and was the song that the children of Israel would sing on the sabbath as they reflected on the goodness of God, and their dependence on him.
I have personally struggled with the idea of setting aside a day to "rest" - especially in my university days, and by God's grace I get it a little bit more now than I did then. While it is super important to have a day off (which is typically a Monday for me), it is particularly important for us to know that rest is more about a place, than it is about a day. It is not only about when we rest, but also about where we rest. Rest is about faith and rest is about trust.
In Psalm 92, the Psalmist seems to anchor this song for the sabbath on three truths, and I think these truths can help us as we think about rest. While there is so much I could glean on from this text, you can do the rest of the exegetical work when you find some time, but I will give us these three points to anchor our theology of rest on. Please read the text!
WE CAN REST BECAUSE OF GOD'S CHARACTER
Character is everything.
The reason why I can seat down with my wife and share with her how I feel, what I am scared of, and what heart issues I am wrestling with is because of her character. I can depend on her. I know she has my best interest at heart. I know she loves me. I know she cares about how I feel. I know she has my back. I know she is there even when she doesn't fully understand what I could be saying or going through. So I do not have to be "timid" when it comes to her. Although she is merely human and imperfect, I can truly say I trust her completely. She can "my biz" as the modern adage would say. I can rest knowing she has things figured out for our home, for example.
Now, what's true about my wife who is finite, is especially true for God who is infinite.
The Psalmist and the congregation sing of God's steadfast love in the morning, his faithfulness by night, his great works, his deep thoughts, his "highness", his uprightness and lastly how the Lord is their "rock".
Now, we are talking about rest, so why is this important? Well, in case you haven't figured it out: unless you actually believe that God, for example, is loving and faithful, you will spend your life wasting and slaving away to find love and significance in your life when you can simply find it in him and - chill. Men and women today are driven to climb the highest of corporate ladders at the expense of their families and they find no rest for their labours because they truly do not believe that God is actually good, faithful, upright or loving.
My sister who is longing to meet someone and get married, do you believe that God is loving, and faithful? If you do, you can surely rest in his character.
My brother whose finances are not going well, and things are not adding up - you can work and do your best, but at some point you have to rest man, and lean on what you know about God.
Whatever situation you might be today - ask yourself: what do I really believe about God? Can I trust Him and rest?
WE CAN REST BECAUSE GOD WILL FLOURISH THE RIGHTEOUS
We can not ignore how this Psalm shows pictures of the righteous as "nourished trees". The picture the Psalmist chooses to use suggests a couple of things about how they sought to praise the Lord on the sabbath. They praised the Lord and acknowledged how much they were dependent on him and were helpless apart from him the same way trees are.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.
Trees are dependent on whoever planted them. Trees do not water themselves. Trees do not strive to be fruitful. They depend on someone outside of them for them to grow and bear fruit. And while I will by no means promote laziness, I do feel that a lot of us are like trees with legs which try by all means to run and plant themselves in places we assume there is nourishment, and in so doing, we are restless and our souls are constantly troubled because you have placed the burdens of your soul in your weak self when you could have placed them on Someone who can handle them.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,
This is an amazing description! While the outward appearance, and the natural age of these trees might seem inadequate and sad, they actually do bear fruit and full of the life of God. Have you ever met believers who outwardly seem like life has taken a toll on them, yet when they open their mouths or when you peep into their lives all you see is gospel fruit and grace? I would argue that such believers have been planted in the house of the Lord, and they flourish like a palm tree and their resting place is exactly in Him. Their fruit is evident.
See, when prosperity preachers take texts like this, they find ways to manipulate this to talk about material wealth. Look, God does bless his people materially, that is never a question. However, the blessedness of the righteous and their flourishing has more to do with their weary soul, than with their empty pockets. And the reason is simple: anybody can have material wealth, but not everyone can get the kind of rest that one gets when they are planted in the "presence of the Lord".
LASTLY, WE CAN REST BECAUSE WE KNOW THE END FOR THE WICKED
This does not mean that we "celebrate" that someday the wicked will be destroyed, but I think one of the reasons why we find no rest is because we see the wicked prospering and compare ourselves and wonder why we do not have what they have.
Certainly in the Psalms this is a recurrent theme. In this chapter we see how this is actually a part of their song - that the wicked with perish! At first glance, this confuses me . Imagine a worship song singing about how God will judge the wicked! Its a little counterintuitive for our times.
See, in the destruction of the wicked, we see that the Psalmist shows that these people are wicked because they do not acknowledge the greatness of God in the first place (vv5-6).
How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
Simply put: those who do not acknowledge God cannot trust him, and by implication, rest in him. They just cannot. And because of this, ultimately they will be separated from the God who they did not want to "rest in" in the first place. Destruction for the wicked is simply getting what they have always wanted - a freedom where they do not depend on God - and separation from them is exactly that.
This should be a warning to us to know how God is serious about his own glory and holiness.
This should be a warning to us to see that God can either be our resting place, or the reason for our perishing.
While you are looking at men and women who do all they can to make the best possible lives for their families, and do not trust God, you can be cautioned not to follow suit because destruction is eminent for those who do not know or acknowledge His great works.
Anything that they will build will be destroyed. Any name that they build will be meaningless someday.
Like I said, you gotta get into the text and read yourself. But I hope this can whet your appetite and cause you ask questions about where you are finding rest in. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath because he is ultimately where we should find our rest. Is that so in your life? Hit me up if you want to talk about it.