Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
In Isaiah 30:8-18 God is addressing Israel as a rebellious people. He calls them lying children who are unwilling to hear. They even say to their seers ‘don’t see anything we don’t like,’ and to their prophets. ‘don’t prophesy the truth about God to us; instead speak to us smooth things and prophesy illusions so we don’t have to confront what God wants us to do.’
So God tells them if you despise my word and instead turn to oppression your sins will build up like a high wall or dam, bulging out under pressure, about to collapse: and the breaking of the wall comes suddenly and catastrophically.
But he says there is an alternative to trusting in yourselves. Verse 15 promises that if they would return to him and rest in him, they would find salvation. If they would stop striving and quietly trust in Him they would find strength.
I remember attending a half-day-of-prayer at Trinity many years ago, at a time when I was feeling particularly tired and overworked, and God hit me over the head with this verse. Just working hard, God said, is not the way to accomplish his purposes. Ignoring sin in your life is an even more certain route to uselessness. But if you stop trying to do what only God can do, and if you rely on Him and His word rather than on yourself, that’s the path to rest, strength and freedom.
I’m not sure I’ve ever learned this lesson; I know I have to re-learn it often. In Isaiah the Israelite simply refuse learning, trusting in themselves. And yet God reinforces the promise in verse 18: “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”
Psalm 62 (Find Rest My Soul in God Alone)