“Their strength is to sit still” (Isaiah 30:7).
“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
Sometimes, you have to just shut up. Once in a while, there is just nothing to do but to but to just do nothing. Through the prophet Isaiah, the counsel of the Spirit was to not react: to be quiet, to “chill out”.
The background of our passage concerns the fact that Israel was looking to Egypt for help. Yes, Egypt—the very land in which they were once enslaved! Now they were running back and forth to Egypt, hoping that she would help to defend them against their enemies. Isaiah warns them that such efforts are all in vain, for to trust in a foreign power would diminish their dependence upon God. His counsel was for Israel to cease such fruitless activity. Israel would obtain her salvation only by returning to God for protection. Although they were warned, the sad climax of verse fifteen reads, “…but you would not.” On a personal level, Christians often dialogue with many secular sources instead of turning to God for answers.
“Sitting still” is hard work and requires discipline. As human beings, we tend to react to situations and resolve them as soon as possible. An old maxim from the 1800’s is “bite the bullet”. This phrase originated as doctors suggested that their patients bite down hard on a lead bullet in the absence of pain killers as the doctor performed minor surgeries. Ouch. To bite the bullet has become synonymous with “just grin and bear it”. Sometimes we must.
We are often tempted to speak when we should not. Our tendency to act—and over react—stems from the human desire to correct a difficult situation. But just because we think our words may solve the problem does not mean that they will. In fact, most of us live long enough to make speeches we regret later. It is very easy to admit that I have put my foot in my mouth. I would not have to repent had I not opened it in the first place.
“Our strength is to sit still” (Isaiah 30:7). But a humble dependence upon God and a quiet submission to His will are not fashionable concepts in our “me first” era. A silent confidence in God’s saving power is what Matthew Henry called “a holy quietness, suppressing all turbulent and tumultuous passions”.
“A fool utters all his mind: but the wise person holds it in until later” (Proverbs 29:11).
We have the ability through the power of the Holy Spirit to walk away and say nothing. What the world may call cowardice, Proverbs calls wisdom, prudence and discretion (3:21 & 8:12).
In stressful situations when you are tempted to speak when you know you should not, ask God for the grace to bite the bullet and sit still.