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Peace, Perfect Peace

Although the tune "Pax Tecum" (Peace Be With You) won't go down in history as the finest melody ever written, its use of only two notes in the first phrase does convey a sense of stability and tranquility that reflects the words.

The words were written by the editor of The Hymnal Companion to the Book of Common Prayer, Bishop Edward Henry Bickersteth (1825-1906). Bickersteth was vacationing in Harrogate, England where he heard a sermon on Isaiah 26:3: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." The preacher discussed the fact that Hebrew text used the word peace twice to indicate absolute perfection. The words "perfect peace" might be better translated "peace, peace," or "peace upon peace." They are intended to express peace in the most emphatic way possible.

This idea was still on Bishop Bickersteth's mind when he went to visit a dying relative that afternoon. To soothe the man's emotional turmoil Bickersteth opened his Bible to read about peace from Isaiah 26:3. He then jotted down the hymn "Peace, Perfect Peace" just as they appear in our hymnal today and read them to the man—perhaps the last thing he heard before Jesus called him "to heaven's perfect peace.

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrow surging round?
In Jesus's presence nought but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus's keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers

It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
and Jesus call us to heaven's perfect peace.[/i]
[From Perfect Peace by Arthur Pink:]

....What is signified by a mind "stayed on" the Lord? At least three things. First, to make the Lord the Portion of my soul. All around us are those vainly seeking contentment in things: such as money, and what it can buy, social prestige, fame, pleasures, etc.--all of which are broken cisterns which hold no water. Only the One who made us can satisfy the heart; only as our affection is set upon "things above" do we drink of the Fountain of living waters. Just in proportion as "Delight thyself also in the LORD" (Psa. 37:4) will "perfect peace" be mine now.

Second, to receive from God's hand whatsoever enters my life. I need to cultivate the habit of looking beyond all secondary causes, all intermediary agents and human instruments, recognising that "of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are ALL things" (Rom. 11:36). "Cease ye from man" (Isa. 2:22); conclude no more it is Satan who is seeking to disturb your rest; but say, "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it!" (John 18:11). Just in proportion as we are enabled to say from the heart "It is the LORD: let Him do what seemeth Him good" (1 Sam. 3:18) will "perfect peace" be ours in this world of sin and turmoil.

Third, to leave the future entirely with God. And why not? Are not my "times" in His hand (Psa. 31:15)? Has He not graciously cared for me and faithfully supplied my every need hitherto? Then why be fearful of what lies ahead? Has He not promised never to leave nor forsake me! Just in proportion as I live a day at a time, and "Take therefore no anxious thought for the morrow" (Matt. 6:34) will "perfect peace" be mine even now. But each of these three things is dependent upon the exercise of FAITH; as the text says "because he trusteth in Thee." O to know more of this experientially.

<COLOR color="teal">Like a river glorious,

Is God's perfect peace,

Over all victorious

In its bright increase;

Perfect, yet it floweth

Fuller every day,

Perfect, yet it groweth

Deeper all the way.