Verse 5. I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait. Expecting him to come to me in love, I quietly wait for his appearing; I wait upon him in service, and for him in faith. For God I wait and for him only: if he will manifest himself I shall have nothing more to wait for; but until he shall appear for my help I must wait on, hoping even in the depths. This waiting of mine is no mere formal act, my very soul is in it, -- "my soul doth wait." I wait and I wait -- mark the repetition! "My soul waits", and then again, "My soul waits"; to make sure work of the waiting. It is well to deal with the Lord intensely. Such repetitions are the reverse of vain repetitions. If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord's people have always been a waiting people: they waited for the First Advent, and now they wait for the Second. They waited for a sense of pardon, and now they wait for perfect sanctification. They waited in the depths, and they are not now wearied with waiting in a happier condition. They have cried and they do wait; probably their past prayer sustains their present patience.
And in his word do I hope. This is the source, strength, and sweetness of waiting. Those who do not hope cannot wait; but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. God's word is a true word, but at times it tarries; if ours is true faith it will wait the Lord's time. A word from the Lord is as bread to the soul of the believer; and, refreshed thereby, it holds out through the night of sorrow expecting the dawn of deliverance and delight. Waiting, we study the word, believe the word, hope in the word, and live on the word; and all because it is "his word," -- the word of him who never speaks in vain. Jehovah's word is a firm ground for a waiting soul to rest upon.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. I wait for the LORD, etc. We pronounce this a most blessed posture of the believer. It runs counter to everything that is natural, and, therefore, it is all the more a supernatural grace of the gracious soul. In the first place it is the posture of faith. Here is the gracious soul hanging in faith upon God in Christ Jesus; upon the veracity of God to fulfil his promise, upon the power of God to help him in difficulty, upon the wisdom of God to counsel him in perplexity, upon the love of God to shield him in danger, upon the omniscience of God to guide him with his eye, and upon the omnipresence of God to cheer him with his presence, at all times and in all places, his sun and shield. Oh, have faith in God.
It is also a prayerful posture. The soul waiting for God, is the soul waiting upon God. The Lord often shuts us up to this waiting for his interposition on our behalf, that he may keep us waiting and watching at the foot of his cross, in earnest, believing, importunate prayer. Oh, it is the waiting for the Lord that keeps the soul waiting upon the Lord!
It is also the posture of a patient waiting for the Lord. There is not a more God honouring grace of the Christian character than patience -- a patient waiting on and for the Lord. It is that Christian grace, the fruit of the Spirit, which will enable you to bear with dignity, calmness, and submission the afflictive dealings of your Heavenly Father, the rebuke of the world, and the wounding of the saints.
It is the posture of rest. A soul waiting for the Lord is a soul resting in the Lord. Waiting and resting! Wearied with traversing in vain the wide circle of human expedients; coming to the end of all your own wisdom, strength, and resources; your uneasy, jaded spirit is brought into this resting posture of waiting on, and waiting for, the Lord; and thus folds its drooping wings upon the very bosom of God. Oh, how real and instant is the rest found in Jesus! Reposing in him, however profound the depth of the soul, however dark the clouds that drape it, or surging the waters that overwhelm it, all is sunshine and serenity within. --Condensed from "Soul Depths and Soul Heights", by Octavius Winslow, 1874.
Verse 5. I wait for the LORD. Waiting is a great part of life's discipline, and therefore God often exercises the grace of waiting. Waiting has four purposes. It practises the patience of faith. It gives time for preparation for the coming gift. It makes the blessing the sweeter when it arrives. And it shows the sovereignty of God, -- to give just when and just as he pleases. It may be difficult to define exactly what the Psalmist had in his mind when he said, "I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning." It may have been the Messiah, whose coming was a thing close at hand to the mind of the ancient Jews, just as the Second Advent is to us.
It may have been some special interposition of Divine Providence. But more probably, looking at the place which it occupies, and at the whole tenor of the Psalm, and its line of thought, "The Lord" he waited for so intently was that full sense of safety, peace, and love which God's felt presence gives, and which is, indeed, nothing else but the coming of the Lord most sensibly and palpably into an anxious and longing heart.
The picture of the waiting man is a striking one. It is as of one on the ridge of a journey, looking onward on his way, standing on tiptoe, and therefore needing something to lean on, and to support him. "I wait for the Lord", -- spiritually, with my deepest thoughts -- in the very centre of my being -- "I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait." And I rest, I stay myself on what thou, O Lord, hast said. "My soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope."
In all your waitings remember two things: Let it not be so much the event which you wait for, as the Lord of the event; the Lord in the event. And take care that you have a promise underneath you, -- "In his word do I hope", -- else "waiting" will be too much for you, and after all it may be in vain. --James Vaughan.
Verse 5. I wait ... I hope. Waiting and hoping ever attend the same thing. No man will wait at all for that which he hath no hope of, and he who hath hope will wait always. He gives not over waiting, till he gives over hoping. The object of hope is some future good, but the act of hoping is at present good, and that is present pay to bear our charges in waiting. The word implies both a patient waiting and a hopeful trusting. So Christ expounds it (Mt 12:21), rendering that of the prophet ( Isaiah 42:1-4 ), "The isles shall wait for his law", thus, "In his name shall the Gentiles trust." --Joseph Caryl.
Verse 5-6. In these two verses he doth four times make mention of his hope, and attendance upon God and his word, to let us see how sure a hold we should take on God, and with how many temptations our faith is assaulted, when we can see no reason thereof. Nothing will bear us up but hope. Spero meliora. What encourages husbandmen and mariners against the surges and waves of the sea, and evil weather, but hope of better times? What comforteth a sick man in time of sickness, but hope of health? or a poor man in his distress, but hope of riches? or a prisoner, but hope of liberty? or a banished man, but hope to come home? All these hopes may fail, as oftentimes wanting a warrant. Albeit a physician may encourage a sick man by his fair words, yet he cannot give him an assurance of his recovery, for his health depends on God: friends and courtiers may promise poor men relief, but all men are liars; only God is faithful who hath promised. Therefore let us fix our faith on God, and our hope in God; for he will stand by his promise. No man hath hoped in him in vain, neither was ever any disappointed of his hope. --Archibald Symson.
Verse 5,7. Faith doth ultimately centre in the Deity. God himself in his glorious nature, is the ultimate object where unto our faith is resolved. The promise, simply considered, is not the object of trust, but God in the promise; and from the consideration of that we ascend to the Deity, and cast our anchor there. "Hope in the word" is the first act, but succeeded by hoping in the Lord: "In his word do I hope": that is not all; but, "Let Israel hope in the Lord." That is the ultimate object of faith, wherein the essence of our happiness consists, and that is God. God himself is the true and full portion of the soul. --Stephen Charnock, 1628-1680.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 5-6. Three postures: Waiting, Hoping, Watching.
- The seeking sinner.
- The Christian mourner.
- The loving intercessor.
- The spiritual labourer.
- The dying believer. --W. J.
- We are to wait on God.
- By faith: "In his word do I hope."
- By prayer. Prayer can wait when it has a promise to rest upon.
- We are to wait for God: "I wait for the Lord." "My soul waiteth for the Lord more", etc.
- Because he has his own time for giving.
- Because what he gives is worth waiting for. --G. R.