Prayer is to Desire God

Isaiah 26:1-9

Desiring God is longing to talk to and hear from Him in all circumstances.

Mind Stayed on God

Isaiah 26:1-6, NKJV

1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:

“We have a strong city;

God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks.

2 Open the gates,

That the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in.

3 You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

4 Trust in the Lord forever,

For in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength.

5 For He brings down those who dwell on high,

The lofty city;

He lays it low,

He lays it low to the ground,

He brings it down to the dust.

6 The foot shall tread it down—

The feet of the poor

And the steps of the needy.”     

            This portion of a song Isaiah was inspired to write and sing was in response to the future salvation God was going to bring upon the people of God after God’s judgment upon sin in the world (Isaiah 24). Isaiah then proceeds to personally praise God for revealing His judgment that would bring justice to the world and honor to God’s name upon all the earth (Isaiah 25). This brings us to the response the people of God will proclaim, “In that day…” God has delivered the children of God for all eternity.

            The song Isaiah is inspired to record is the song that will be heard in the land of Judah by all who belong to God. The three things about this song and prayer unto God consists of three things that identify how a person can remain focused on the Lord through any circumstance they may face: 1) God provides protection for His people eternally; 2) God provides assurance in His trustworthiness; and 3) God guarantees the eternal victory over evil by His power. These three things spoken of in the first six verses of this song are verbal expressions of truth the people will experience when God brings justice to the world.

            The people will praise God for the salvation the Lord will provide for them in the protection they see by the walls He has established around them. The walls and the secure position of high ground the city is located on give evidence of God’s ability keep them from every foe that would seek to enter in or cause harm. Their trust is in the Lord who sustains both their position and walls of the city rather than the thickness of the walls or their vantage point where they lived. The walls demonstrate those who seek to harm, deceive, or destroy are prevented from entering into the city.

            The bulwarks speak of the vantage point of being raised up above everything else. The view of the surrounding area is unobstructed and those wishing to attack or corrupt will be seen clearly before they are able to get close. These defenses stand as a testimony to the Lord’s ability to guard and fight off all enemies for those who reside in Him. Salvation of God has granted them access through the gates of the city. It is more than the physical walls that the Lord is speaking of here, but God’s impenetrable glory. There is no approaching the Lord unless He is the One who has given access to Himself or to those who belong to Him.

            Therefore, the appointed, “…salvation for the walls and bulwarks…” is far more than a simple physical boundary; it is a spiritual reality of God’s ability to protect the hearts and minds of His people from the destructive power of evil. The abundant protection of God the people then would have a reference for when they looked back through their history.

20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:

“Praise the Lord,

For His mercy endures forever.”

24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much. 26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the Lord; therefore, the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. (2 Chronicles 20:20-21, 24-29, NKJV)

            Instead of worry and fretting about how they would overcome their enemies, the people chose to praise God that He would overpower their enemies on their behalf on their way to deal with them. The salvation God has supplied is mobile and travels with a person wherever God leads them and wherever they find themselves. This is the model Jesus gave the Church when Jesus proclaimed to His disciples, “32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:32-33, NKJV)

            God provides assurance in His trustworthiness as well. The people together will sing about their experience of the perfect peace they received from being consumed by the presence and knowledge of God. This perfect peace carries the same concept of “Shälôm” which means safe, well, happy, friendly; this was the greeting God’s people gave to one another when they met. The idea of the rest and assurance of God’s presence was known in Israel’s history during times of obedience. One such time is recorded in Joshua 21:43-44, “43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand” (NKJV).

            This idea of perfect peace that was experienced briefly by the people of God in the past and will rejoice eternally in the future is now tasted by those who are in Christ presently. Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians reminds those who are in Christ to, “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV). This guarding of a person’s mind and heart to achieve that perfect peace is available when a person stays focused on the Lord rather than allowing worry and anxiety to drown God’s peace out of their life.

            The third thing the people will ultimately rejoice in along with God’s protection and His trustworthiness is God’s guarantee of the eternal victory over evil by His power. There is no rising again if the Lord eternally brings down something or someone. The judgment of God is final. Those who have exalted themselves or have attacked the rule of God will always find themselves trampled under foot by the least of those they desired to rule over when they achieved freedom from God’s authority.

            The complete destruction of God’s enemies is graphic. The contrast used to describe this is God “…who dwells on high…” and those the Lord lays “…low to the ground…down to the dust…” to be treaded upon by the poor and needy alike cannot be more separated. God’s enemies will never recover from His judgment upon them. The insult here is the fact that the lowliest and weakest of people will be able to trample those God brings low. This is referred to as adding insult to injury.

            God’s great power will on the day this song is sung have taken place or will soon come to pass. Those who reject God and attempt to throw off His authority over their lives are helpless in all of their rantings. David in Psalm 2 was inspired to write about them saying,

1 Why do the nations rage,

And the people plot a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves,

And the rulers take counsel together,

Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces

And cast away Their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;

The Lord shall hold them in derision.

5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,

And distress them in His deep displeasure (Psalm 2:1-5, NKJV)

The implication here is clear even if not stated specifically. Those who God exalts will be with Him in unity because they humbly accepted His rule over them and kept their minds set about being with Him and knowing Him better through all circumstances. Those who reject the authority of the Lord’s judgment will ignore the only means of salvation through the shed blood of Christ and suffer eternal loss.

Soul Desiring God’s Name

Isaiah 26:7-9, NKJV

7 The way of the just is uprightness;

O Most Upright,

You weigh the path of the just.

8 Yes, in the way of Your judgments,

O Lord, we have waited for You;

The desire of our soul is for Your name

And for the remembrance of You.

9 With my soul I have desired You in the night,

Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;

For when Your judgments are in the earth,

The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.           

            The person who has their mind stayed upon the Lord will come to desire the name of God to be known above all else in their life, even more than their personal name or reputation. The greatest achievement of those who bear the name of Christ ought to be the desire to reveal the forgiveness of sins through the shed blood of Christ. It is at the name of Christ that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11), and not the name of a denomination, congregation, or any other person.

            Many times in the Christian community, pastors, denominations, specific specialty ministries, and Christian aid organizations are far more concerned with self-promotion than lifting up the name of Christ. The desire of making a name for them self has overpowered the promotion of God’s name. Yet the prophet is revealing the behavior of people who are in full submission to God and desiring that His name be great (Isaiah 26:7-9).

            There are three ways a person expresses the desire for God’s name: 1) imitate the character of God, 2) live in submission to God’s judgments, and 3) seek to teach others about God’s righteousness. These three things can only be accomplished when a person’s mind is stayed upon the Lord. Focusing on God allows people to desire God’s name to be their greatest claim in life. The person living in this manner will find that their prayer life extends far beyond the times they are speaking words to God; prayer will begin to invade their careers, personal hobbies, recreation, and home life.

            Desiring God’s name is the pursuit of imitating God’s character. The people will recognize at the time they sing this song that God is the “…Most Upright”. Uprightness is the translation of the Hebrew word mêyshär which means rightness, equity, smoothness. The person who lives in the paths of God’s judgments finds life less complicated than those who are in the bondage of sin. The people who sing this song will be willingly waiting upon the Lord. They will fully know, accept, and rejoice in the wisdom of God without questioning His timing or actions. God’s people were encouraged in the past and are still challenged today through the inspired words of Solomon,

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

8 It will be health to your flesh,

And strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8, NKJV)

            God’s judgments and ways He carries out His Word are certainly strange in the mind of most people. The problem is with mankind’s thinking and not God’s decisions. God is pure; mankind has been contaminated by sin. Understanding God’s purity is important. God’s purity is the reason people can and should trust in the righteousness of God instead of their own sinful hearts.

            The character of God is above reproach in all circumstances. The Lord’s actions are done with the purpose of revelation of Himself in all creation. Everything in all creation is weighed against God’s character. Those things which agree with and support God are true, righteous, and holy; those things which disagree with and challenge God are false, wrong, and unholy. God expresses this reality through Isaiah later on in the inspired writing of Isaiah,

8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV)

            Desiring God’s name is also to willingly live in submission to God’s judgments. The singers of this song will be waiting on God’s judgments to show them how to respond to all things in His good pleasure. Remembering God’s name in the soul sounds abstract, but in reality it is extremely practical and should be done even now by God’s children.

            The soul can be understood as the place where a person’s emotions, appetites, and desires are generated which is the meaning of the Hebrew word nepeš translated into English as “soul”. It is the soul that enters either into God’s kingdom to be in union with the Creator or into hell to suffer for all eternity for rejecting the Creator. The Hebrew word translated into English as “spirit” is rûaH which imparts wisdom for understanding, and carrying out one’s responsibilities. Those who are spiritually dead in their sins will not understand the ways of God or live in obedience to Him. The one who is indwelt by the Spirit of God and carries out the desires of the Father will have their soul’s desires  change from what promotes selfish desires to doing what God desires. Apostle Paul describes this in his inspired letter to the Roman believers this way,

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25, NKJV)

            This is why those who are redeemed continually struggle with sin in spite of the fact they are justified before the Father by the blood of Christ and have the Spirit of God dwelling within them. The concept of the spirit and soul is difficult enough without the whole idea of the spirit of mankind’s fallen nature and God’s Spirit within the same person warring against one another. It is the reality we are living in regardless if it is understood completely or not.

            The people who are going to be singing this song will be remembering the Lord in all they do, including desiring Him into the night with their spirits in communion with the Spirit of God. This can be realized in a small measure today within the body of Christ as God’s people seek His righteousness over their own satisfaction and comfort. Jesus explained how this was possible when He instructed the disciples, “…seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).

            Finally, desiring God is to teach others about God’s righteousness through obedience to the Lord’s commands and a lifestyle that is conformed to the kingdom of heaven rather than the corruption of the world. The judgments of God will be brought about in the earth only as much as the children of God are willing to surrender themselves to the influence of the Spirit of God and submission to the living Word of God.

            The people of the earth will learn about the righteousness of God. That in no way means they will accept it for themselves, give God their heart, or appreciate the spot light of conviction obedience to God sheds upon sin. There are many things people learn and know, but most choose to ignore and disregard when it causes them discomfort and guilt. Those who sing this song will be living beacons reflecting the glory and purity of God in the world at this time.

            People even now are learning about God’s righteousness through the body of Christ. It is beyond their comprehension until they are receive salvation by the grace of God. Until that time, it will remain foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). Apostle Paul explained how this imparting of learning happens when he was inspired to write,

9 But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-12, NKJV)

            Prayer is to desire God in all aspects of life which in turn makes a person’s life one continual prayer to the Lord. Their minds are stayed upon the Lord and their souls desire to see their spirits conform to the will of God rather than their sinful nature. The spiritual battle rages on. Victory is achieved whenever a person submits their spirits to the authority of God’s Holy Spirit to do the will of God rather than the will of their sinful nature.

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