For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall you be saved…
"Quietness" is just collectedness, repose, equanimity, freedom from excitement and boisterousness. "Confidence" is trust, reliance, upon God, producing, if not implying, a calm and steadfast courage.
I. "Quietness and confidence" are STRENGTH OF CHARACTER. They bespeak the existence of thought, reflection, judgment; they evidence self-control; they mark a nature that is not superficial; they show a superiority to influences which rouse the stormy passions of other men, and leave them the victims of blind impulse; and all this implies true strength of character.
II. "Quietness and confidence" are STRENGTH FOR WORK AND ACHIEVEMENT. The quiet, steady, hopeful man — other things being equal, and sometimes when they are very unequal — will prove, far away, the best workman. For one thing, such a man will lose no time in vain speculation, in daydreams about his work, in clearing away self-imposed hindrances, the result of his own hurry or forgetfulness or preoccupation. Calm and thoughtful, he will always settle to his employment at once, while another man will have to give himself time to acquire the proper mood for it. "Confidence" will also yield him resolution, and that will "make him proof against interruption," which often defers the results of men's endeavours and chafes their temper as well. Nearly all the men who have won renown in the sphere of successful toil, whether secular or sacred, have been men of quiet energy, rather than men of powerful impulses; of steadfast reliance upon a Power above them, rather than of mere human enthusiasm. And in fact, such are the discouragements and trials that wait upon all kinds of labour, whether for ourselves or others — such the sameness, the dryness, the weariness, that only quiet confidence will enable a man to persevere. It was this that kept Moses at the head of the chosen tribes till they reached the borders of Canaan. It was this that carried St. Paul through his almost superhuman toils and exertions. It was this that sustained such men as Columbus and Newton, Washington and Wellington, and a host of others, in carrying out enterprises, differing, indeed, in their objects, but all encompassed with difficulties that would have driven weaker men to despair at their outset. And, if we would do any real work for God and our fellow men, we must seek more to possess the quietness and confidence of me text, than those more shining qualities which gain popular applause, but often leave no real impress upon a man's age and sphere.
III. Quietness and confidence are STRENGTH FOR ENDURANCE. Restlessness, impatience, distrust, do but aggravate trials, and intensify suffering. Like the struggles of a prisoner in his fetters — like the beating itself against the wires of the poor caged bird, they only serve to augment pain, and to bring on the dejection and weariness that follow fruitlessly expended energy. But to have a mind stayed on God is to take the most certain method to lighten every burden, to diminish the bitterness of every sorrow, to modify and transmute every curse into a blessing, and to make even the path of tribulation pleasant and attractive.
IV. "Quietness and confidence" are specially the STRENGTH OF SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT. All religious progress depends, primarily and efficiently, upon the grace of God. But the order of God's working is such that this process may be very much helped or hindered by ourselves. The growth of plants and flowers depends materially upon the nature of the soil in which they are set, and upon their capacity for receiving the influences of air and sunshine, dew and shower. And it is much the same as to the growth of holy character; it is checked or advanced by our prevailing moral dispositions. Now, "quietness and confidence" imply a state of mind the most favourable to Divine operations. The subject may he viewed in another light. In the endeavour to live a holy life, we are all conscious of our exposure to hindrances, arising from our lapses and failures. We go on, it may be, somewhat well for a time; but a temptation overtakes us, unwatchfulness supervenes, and we fall, not into any great sin, but from the vantage ground that we thought ourselves to have reached. Now, what will be the effect of this upon a Christian person of excitable, impulsive, unsteady mind! Why, ceremony he will be discouraged and dismayed. But it will not be thus with the Christian who is marked by "quietness and confidence." He will say, "Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy; for though I fall, I shall rise again."
(C. M. Merry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.