Verse 6. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning. Men who guard a city, and women who wait by the sick, long for daylight. Worshippers tarrying for the morning sacrifice, the kindling of the incense and the lighting of the lamps, mingle fervent prayers with their holy vigils, and pine for the hour when the lamb shall smoke upon the altar. David, however, waited more than these, waited longer, waited more longingly, waited more expectantly. He was not afraid of the great Adonai before whom none can stand in their own righteousness, for he had put on the righteousness of faith, and therefore longed for gracious audience with the Holy One. God was no more dreaded by him than light is dreaded by those engaged in a lawful calling. He pined and yearned after his God. I say, more than they that watch for the morning. The figure was not strong enough, though one can hardly think of anything more vigorous: he felt that his own eagerness was unique and unrivalled. Oh to be thus hungry and thirsty after God! Our version spoils the abruptness of the language; the original runs thus -- "My soul for the Lord more than those watching for the morning -- watching for the morning." This is a fine poetical repeat. We long for the favour of the Lord more than weary sentinels long for the morning light which will release them from their tedious watch. Indeed this is true. He that has once rejoiced in communion with God is sore tried by the hidings of his face, and grows faint with strong desire for the Lord's appearing,
"When wilt thou come unto me, Lord?
Until thou dost appear,
I count each moment for a day,
Each minute for a year."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 6. My soul waiteth for the LORD. And now, my soul, what do I live for but only to wait upon God, and to wait for God? To wait upon him, to do him service, to wait for him, to be enabled to do him better service; to wait upon him, as being Lord of all; and to wait for him, as being the rewarder of all; to wait upon him whose service is better than any other command, and to wait for him whose expectation is better than any other possession. Let others, therefore, wait upon the world, wait for the world; I, O God, will wait upon thee, for thee, seeing I find more true contentment in this waiting than all the world can give me in enjoying; for how can I doubt of receiving reward by my waiting for thee when my waiting for thee is itself the reward of my waiting upon thee? And therefore my soul waiteth; for if my soul did not wait, what were my waiting worth no more than I were worth myself, if I had not a soul; but my soul puts a life into my waiting, and makes it become a living sacrifice. Alas, my frail body is very unfit to make a waiter: it rather needs to be waited upon itself: it must have so much resting, so often leave to be excused from waiting, that if God should have no other waiters than bodies, he would be left oftentimes to wait upon himself; but my soul is Divinoe particula auroe a portion of the Divine breath, endued with all qualities fit for a waiter; and hath it not received its abilities, O God, from thee?] And therefore my soul waiteth, and is so intent in the service that it waits "more than they that watch for the morning." --Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 6. Hammond thus renders the verse: -- "My soul hasteneth to the Lord from the guards in the morning, the guards in the morning."
Verse 6. More than they that watch for the morning. Look, as the weary sentinel that is wet and stiff with cold and the dews of the night, or as the porters that watched in the Temple, the Levites, were waiting for the daylight, so "more than they that watch for the morning" was he waiting for some glimpse of God's favour. Though he do not presently ease us of our smart or gratify our desires, yet we are to wait upon God. In time we shall have a good answer. God's delays are not denials. Day will come at length, though the weary sentinel or watchman counts it long first; so God will come at length; he will not be at our beck. We have deserved nothing, but must wait for him in the diligent use of means; as Benhadad's servants watched for the word "brother", or anything of kindness to drop from the king of Israel. --Thomas Manton.
Verse 6. More than they that watch for the morning. How many in the hallowed precincts of the Temple turned with anxious eye to the east, for the first red streak over Moab's mountains that gave intimation of approaching day; yet it was not for deliverance they waited, but for the accustomed hour when the morning sacrifice could be offered, and the soul be relieved of its gratitude in the hymn of thanksgiving, and of the burden of its sorrows and sins by prayer, and could draw that strength from renewed intercourse with heaven, that would enable it in this world to breathe the spirit and engage in the beneficent and holy deeds of a better. --Robert Nisbet.
Verse 6. I say, more than they that watch for the morning, for must there not be a proportion between the cause and effect? If my cause of watching be more than theirs, should not my watching be more than theirs? They that watch for the morning have good cause, no doubt, to watch for it, that it may bring them the light of day; but have not I more cause to watch, who wait for the light that lighteth every one that comes into the world? They that watch for the morning wait but for the rising of the sun to free them from darkness, that hinders their sight; but I wait for the rising of the Sun of righteousness to dispel the horrors of darkness that affright my soul. They watch for the morning that they may have light to walk by; but I wait for the Dayspring from on High to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. But though there may be question made of the intentness of our watching, yet of the extensiveness there can be none, for they that watch for the morning watch at most but a piece of the night; but I have watched whole days and whole nights, and may I not then justly say, I wait more than they that watch for the morning? --Sir Richard Baker.
Verse 6. Holy men like Simeon, and devout priests like Zacharias, there were, amidst this seething people, who, brooding, longing, waiting, chanted to themselves day by day the words of the Psalmist, "My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning." As lovers that watch for the appointed coming, and start at the quivering of a leaf, the flight of a bird, or the humming of a bee, and grow weary of the tense strain, so did the Jews watch for their Deliverer. It is one of the most piteous sights of history, especially when we reflect that he came, -- and they knew him not. -- Henry Ward Beechef, in his "Life of Jesus the Christ."
Verse 6. Watch. We do injustice to that good and happy word, "watch", when we take it as watching against; against a danger; against a coming evil. It will bear that interpretation; but it is a far higher, and better, and more filial thing to watch for a coming good than to watch against an approaching evil.
So, "watching for", we send up our arrows of prayer, and then look trustingly to see where they are coming down again. So, "watching for", we listen, in silence, for the familiar voice we love. So, "watching for", we expect the Bridegroom!
Take care, that as one always standing on the eve, -- not of danger, but of happiness, - - your "watch" be the "watch" of love, and confidence, and cheerful hope. --James Vaughan.
Verse 6. In the year 1830, on the night preceding the first of August, the day the slaves in our West Indian Colonies were to come into possession of the freedom promised them, many of them, we are told, never went to bed at all. Thousands, and tens of thousands of them, assembled in their places of worship, engaging in devotional duties, and singing praises to God, waiting for the first streak of the light of the morning of that day on which they were to be made free. Some of their number were sent to the hills, from which they might obtain the first view of the coming day, and, by a signal, intimate to their brethren down in the valley the dawn of the day that was to make them men, and no longer, as they had hitherto been, mere goods and chattels, -- men with souls that God had created to live forever. How eagerly must these men have watched for the morning! --T. W. Aveling, in "The Biblical Museum", 1872.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 6. More than they.
- For the darker sorrow his absence causes.
- For the richer splendour Iris coming must bring.
- For the greater might of our indwelling love. --W. B. H.
- A long, dark night: The Lord absent.
- An eager, hopeful watcher: Waiting the Lord's return.
- A bright, blessed morning: The time of the Lord's appearing. --W. H. J. P.