WAITING ON THE LORD
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”
Psalm 27: 14
SOME OTHER Bible passages which speak about waiting on the Lord include the following:
Psalm 25: 5: “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”
Hosea 12: 6: “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”
Psalm 130: 5, 6: “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: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.”
Our text contains two exhortations and a promise, and the promise is conditioned on the two exhortations. The first exhortation is “Wait on the LORD.” Note that it is repeated for emphasis. The words “I say” are not in the Hebrew. The thought is that one should remain inactive in a matter until the Lord makes known His will regarding the matter. On the other hand, one should not be inactive in matters in which His will is known.
As an illustration, we note that the Lord directed Israel at the Red Sea to wait, and then they would experience His salvation. They needed to wait until the tides and wind exposed the reef upon which they crossed over the Red Sea safely. Our experiences are the same. The Lord keeps us waiting until conditions are right for us to move forward. Another illustration is the case of the Apostle Paul. Following his conversion, he desired to immediately begin preaching Christ, however, the Lord directed him to remain in Arabia for three years in order to become prepared for his ministry. A few examples of those not waiting on the Lord include Satan in the Garden of Eden, the fallen angels before the flood and Judas.
Determining the Lord’s Will
Of course, the matter of waiting on the Lord, just like anything else, can be carried to an extreme. For example, it would be unreasonable for us to wait on the Lord, expecting Him to reveal to us when we should rise in the morning or retire at night. But in the case of new matters, we should first consult God’s Word to discern His will, and at the same time empty ourselves of self and world will, and fill ourselves with the desire to do His will. Second, let us seek to follow the Lord’s spirit of justice and love in the matter. And finally, may we watch the Lord’s providences, as to which way they direct us.
We might ask the question, Why is it necessary for us to wait on the Lord? We suggest three reasons: (1) it will save us from sins and errors; (2) we need it for our Christian development; and (3) we need to wait until certain barriers are removed, such as was the case when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Satan, the world and our flesh will desire that we rush ahead of the Lord, that the time for waiting is over. But when thus tempted let us recall Proverbs 3: 5, 6: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Isaiah 30: 15: “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” We may experience this “quietness” in knowing that the Lord will never leave, forsake, nor fail to give us His peace amidst any of life’s storms. The word “confidence” means full assurance of faith, that all things are working out for our good (Romans 8: 28). We may gain more confidence as we view our past experiences and those of others. Let us remember the Lord’s promise that His people will never be ashamed, nor confounded (Psalm 69: 6).
“Be of good courage”
The second exhortation of our text is “be of good courage.” The proper thought is to “be strong.” It is not referring to physical strength, but to strength of heart, mind and will – will power in mind and heart. This encompasses two Christian graces – self-control and patience (2 Peter 1: 6). Self-control is active when there are no obstacles to overcome, but when obstacles arise, patience reinforces self-control. Furthermore, will power is supported by hope, which prevents us from being discouraged (Proverbs 13: 12). Additionally, faith supports our hope and will power, for faith appropriates God’s promises to ourselves (Hebrews 11: 1). 1 John 5: 4 reads, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Love and obedience are also essential in order for us to “be strong.” Disobedience weakens our strength for good, but it strengthens our evil.
Deuteronomy 31: 6 reads, “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” If we are one of the Lord’s people, we should have no cause to fear our enemies.
“And he shall strengthen thine heart”
The promise of our text, “and he shall strengthen thine heart,” is conditional upon obeying the two exhortations of waiting on the Lord and using the strength that we have. By the “heart” is meant the affections, the will, the graces or the intellect, or a combination of two or more of those things. In this passage it refers to all of the above. By obeying the two exhortations God will increase our self-control and patience, our knowledge, our affections and our graces. In an even broader sense He will increase all the steps of the Christian life – world and self-denial, study, spread and practice of God’s Word, watchfulness and prayer and patient endurance of the trials, sufferings and persecutions we are called upon to endure. We all need more strength. The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh in which He sought the Lord three times for its removal, but instead of removing it the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9). Even Jesus needed more strength, especially in Gethsemane.
God gives us added strength through His Word, His spirit and His providences: (1) His Word gives us the knowledge, energy and inspiration we need; (2) His spirit, or disposition, especially that of justice and love, give us the principles we need; and (3) His providences create the situations that give us opportunities to exercise our minds, hearts, graces and wills.
We are prone to depression and discouragement due to the curse, poor physical health, persecution, mental weakness and our faults. God does not cause these things, but He permits them for our good (Psalm 69: 1-5) (2 Corinthians 4: 8, 9). Whenever we face a crisis, if we are rightly exercised, it will go toward developing us for our future work in God’s Kingdom. It will especially enable us to sympathize with the world. But if we are not rightly exercised, our faith will be destroyed, our energy sapped and we will be filled with fear.
Things we can do
Let us look to the Lord and His Word, let us claim His promises, let us fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6: 12), let us study the Bible teachings and examples of overcoming Christians, let us engage in prayer and supplication, let us assemble with the brethren whenever possible, let us be active in service, let us read Christian poems and sing Christian hymns and exercise persistent determination to be strong in the Lord.
Isaiah 40: 31 reads, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
God takes pleasure in strengthening our hearts. He loves us more, and is better and wiser than any earthly father. Good earthly parents rejoice in the success of their children, but that is small in comparison to God’s happiness at every one of our successes, especially the ultimate success of eventually gaining eternal life. God does not seek to find fault with us and is pained when we stumble. How marvelous that our great God condescends to provide for our every need!
Isaiah 64: 4: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.”
Ephesians 3: 20: “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
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