Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The One For Whom We Wait

And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.

Psalm 39:7 NKJV  

We wait for busses and we wait for children. We wait for the rain to stop and wait for five o'clock to get here. But the point is we wait for something. The dictionary even defines the word wait as, to remain inactive or in a state of repose until something expected happens.
I guess that is why most of the scriptures on waiting are linked to specific expectations. Whether we wait to have our strength renewed [11] or wait for the wicked to be cut off [12], there is a certain thing we look forward to; a specific hope that has our attention.

One of the unique aspects of our verse today is that the object that David is waiting for is rather abstract. In this verse he said he waited for "You." This person is, of course, God. But notice that God doesn't do anything. David doesn't even say, "I wait for You to come."

In the next couple of verses he makes requests of God-deliverance and protection from being thought foolish-but he expresses no assurance that these things will actually happen. The hope of the wait seems to be simply in God's existence rather than any specific benefit. The psalmist sees possible benefits, but the hope of his waiting doesn't rest there.

David started out this psalm with a vain effort to keep his mouth shut. He tried very hard not to say something, but when the internal "fire" burned hot enough, he blurted out the words anyway. 
With this fresh reminder of his inability to do even the smallest thing looking him in the face, David contemplates the weakness and brevity of all life. He knew himself to be so weak that he had no one to depend upon except God. Yet, in David's long experience he knew that his hope for specific benefits from God was sometimes delayed and other times not realized at all. What then?

For David, the answer was to lift his eyes higher. His hope becomes not centered on the specific things God might give, but the existence of God. It was not a hope in what God could do, but in the character and nature of God.

God really does give good things to His children. It is right and biblical and good to hope for what He can do for us in this life. But, it is even nobler when our eyes can move beyond that to rest in His character. This is the kind of hope God's people have depended upon for generations as they expectantly waited on the Lord.

In 1950 Ira Stanphill set words he had written to music: "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow and I know who holds my hand."Although he died in 1993, Ira's words are still loved and performed today by believers around the world. The basic concept of looking beyond what God can give to find solid ground in His character and nature has spread through all cultures, generations and dispensations. It is the foundation stone for anyone who waits.

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