Toward a Quiet Soul

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me?

Have you ever felt disquieted?

Three times the psalmist asked himself why he is cast down and disquieted (Psalm 42:5, 11 and 43:5). The ESV says “in turmoil”; the NASB uses “disturbed.” Other translations say “sad,” “restless,” “upset.” But “disquieted” aptly includes all kinds of disturbances.

The Hebrew word translated “disquieted” in those two psalms includes these definitions:

“To murmur, growl, roar, cry aloud, mourn, rage, sound, make noise, tumult, be clamorous, be disquieted, be loud, be moved, be troubled, be in an uproar, to roar, to be in a stir, be in a commotion, to be boisterous, be turbulent.”

Ever felt any of those?

Each of those times the psalmists asks himself why he is disquieted, he answers himself, “hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

That’s the course of many of the psalms. The writer has no peace of mind for various reasons: enemies are after him; sin weighs on his conscious; wicked people are prospering at the expense of the righteous. I love the honesty of the psalmists’ emotions as they lay out their dilemmas and questions before God. And gradually, as they remind themselves of what they know about their God and put their situation in the proper perspective, their souls return to peace, to rest.

Psalm 107 speaks of a physical storm, but there are parallels to a spiritual, emotional, or mental storm as well.:

Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Psalm 107:28-30, KJV

We’re always glad when peace and quietness reign after any storm.

A quiet soul is not a result of Zen-like tranquility or an emptying of the mind. It’s not a mystical state. It comes from deliberately, consciously reminding ourselves of God’s love, wisdom, promises, and power and resting in Him. Whatever we’re going through, God has a reason for it and will give us grace to deal with it.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2, ESV

It’s fine to pray for calm circumstances.

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2, ESV

God doesn’t always remove the problems, but He gives His peace. I once saw a saying on a plaque that said, “Sometimes God calms the storm: sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.”

But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. Proverbs 1:33, KJV

A quiet soul is not passive, but actively resting in God.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling…Isaiah 30:15, ESV

A quiet soul can go from God’s Word and prayer into everyday life, still trusting and resting.

But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-13, ESV

For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12, ESV

But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious, 1 Peter 3:4, ESV

Having a quiet spirit does not mean one is silent or mousy: it doesn’t quell exuberance. It’s a quietness of rest and peace. It’s not stirred up in a wrong way over the wrong things.

It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:26, KJV

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. . Isaiah 32:17, ESV

Sometimes God has to disquiet us before He can quiet us. Sometimes we need to be shaken out of our complacency or chastened. Jonah was disturbed at God’s calling for him and tried to run away. God dealt with him rather severely. In Jonah’s prayer in the fish’s belly, he laments:

For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me (verse 3, ESV).

The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains (verses 5-6, ESV).

But when his “life was fainting away,” he “remembered the Lord” (verse 7), prayed, thanked God, and promised to fulfill his vows. God delivered him, and Jonah went on to obey God. Unfortunately, Jonah continued to have attitude problems and never did seem to come to truly rest in the Lord, at least in this book. The end result of chastening rightly received is “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:5-13).

I originally wanted to publish this post last week, but felt strongly impressed to go with a different one instead. I think one of the reasons for waiting was that God knew I would come across two quotes in my reading this week that tied in with this topic.

H. A. Ironside said in his book Full Assurance:

As one walks with God, and learns to suffer and endure as seeing Him who is invisible, eternal things become more real than the things of time and sense, which are everything to the merely natural man. Thus there comes to the heart a trustful calm, a full assurance, based not alone on the revealed Word but upon a personal knowledge of communion with God, which gives implicit confidence as to this present life and all that lies ahead. (pp. 59-60, emphasis mine).

Then the ESV Study Bible says of Psalm 62:1-2:

The description of a trusting soul is there to set an ideal for God’s people: each one should aspire to this kind of quiet faith (p. 1011).

And the introduction to Psalm 63 in the ESV Study Bible says:

This psalm opens as if it were a lament, seeking God in a time of trouble; and yet the overall flow of the song is one of confident expectation. Hence it is best to see the psalm as enabling each of God’s people to develop confidence during their times of trouble (p. 1012).

Whatever the source of our trouble – God’s chastening or growing us, outward circumstances or inward turmoil – we can rest in His presence, wisdom, love, care, and provision.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness;  he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17, ESV

He Will Quiet You

In this life, there are times of tribulation;
Hearts are filled with deep despair.
Heartache and pain and troubles abound;
Is there comfort anyway?
In your times of trial,
Lift your eyes to the Father above
He alone is the Answer,
The Source of please and love.

He will quiet you,
He will quiet you.
He will take delight in you,
And quiet you with his love.
His plans for you are perfect
And all His ways are best.
He will give you rest
As He quiets you with his love

He longs to take you into his arms,
And gently shelter you.
Only He can calm the storms in your life,
And give you peace anew.
And He will rejoice,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
He will rejoice,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
The Creator of all will lift up His voice;
And over your life
He will sing and rejoice!
He will rejoice!
He will rejoice!

He will quiet you,
He will quiet you.
He will take delight in you
And quiet you with his love.

His plans for you are perfect
And all His ways are best.
He will give you rest
As He quiets you with his love.
Come to Him for rest
Let Him quiet you with his love.

~ Words and music by Cindy Berry

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Wise Woman, Faith on Fire)

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32 thoughts on “Toward a Quiet Soul

  1. Thank you for these beautiful thoughts. My #oneword for last year was “stillness” and this year’s is “sufficiency.” It is so comforting to read through these Scriptures that you brought together here, and see that when we truly rest in God’s sufficiency there is a stillness that comes to our hearts. And I had not heard this song before. It brings tears to my eyes today–just what I needed to remember.

    • I had to remind myself of these truths just today, even though I had worked on this post over several days last week. It seems like my default response is to fret, and I have to remind myself of God’s truth to get back to a place of rest. Maybe some day the default will be to rest in Him first and skip the fretting – hopefully!

  2. I hadn’t realised there were so many Bible verses that talked about quiet! And I love the point that sometimes God doesn’t quiet the circumstances but that knowing he is with us can quiet us in the midst of the circumstances.

    • It was a neat study! There were even a few more verses that I left out so as not to overload readers. I tend to want to rest in Him by having the circumstances change favorably, but often He wants us to rest in Him in the midst of whatever circumstances we’re going through.

  3. Thank you for this wonderful post, Barbara. I loved all the Scripture that you used…in my post today my “I am learning” was that He keeps me in perfect peace when my mind is stayed on Him…so you can see that this was definitely a blessing for me to come here and read your wonderful post. I’ve have copied the H.A. Ironside quote…I love it because I feel as if it were meant for me today. I reread it about three times. I also want to share this post with a friend. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Dianna. The Isaiah passage you mentioned came to mind the morning I posted this, and I thought about including it, but felt I probably had enough/too much as it was. But it ties right in to these truths. Ironside’s book is a reread, but such a blessing.

  4. I love this truth, Barbara: “A quiet soul is not passive, but actively resting in God.” We too often equate quietness with passivity but sometimes when I’m most busy is when I have to most actively seek that quietness within.

    • That’s so true – we can’t always get away to get our spirit in peace, which is what I prefer. But He can help us rest in Him even when everything is busy. I think of the life of Jesus in those instances – He was so pressed and busy, but He always went about without being frantic or acting put-upon or impatient.

  5. What a beautiful post, Barbara. So much good truth in your words here.

    This thing I had never thought about in the way you shared it: “Sometimes God has to disquiet us before He can quiet us. Sometimes we need to be shaken out of our complacency or chastened.”

    it’s true. Sometimes God does cause disquiet in our souls so we’ll seek Him and move out of complacency.

    Oftentimes, we must choose to turn to Him in the hard seasons if we want to have a quiet soul.

    Your words reminded me of the old song that had this line in the chorus: “Sometimes He calms the storm. Other times He calms the child.”

    This post was timely for me. Thank you!

  6. I liked this! Our pastor preached Sunday about Paul’s verse on “I have learned to be content …” which is a similar idea. I found it interesting that contentment is something we can learn. That’s encouraging I think!

  7. No, God does not always remove the storm or calm the circumstances…but what a wonder that we can have peace even in the storm. While the storm rages….

    I enjoyed your post – and all the scriptures! Happy Wednesday:)

  8. I love that God wanted the psalms to be included in His Word so that I feel very normal when I am disquieted. And then I also find peace in remembering along with the psalmist Who God is and who I am in Him.
    Thank you. Bless you.
    ~Lisa

  9. Thank you for teaching us about what it looks like for God to disquiet us. I agree with Jeanne above that I didn’t realize how God disquiets us out of complacency at times before he can quiet us. That is a powerful image for me. Blessed you shared this at #TellHisStory.

  10. Beautiful post and fresh insight. I’ve never been familiar with the term “disquieted” or used it in my vocabulary. But I love how you define it and then tell us how to have the opposite effect with God. “A quiet soul is not passive, but actively resting in God.”

  11. Pingback: End-of-month chatting | Stray Thoughts

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