My father was an avid fisherman who would take me fishing with him from time to time, when I was a lad. I used to enjoy watching the bobber go under the water and would shout in delight when this occurred, and I impatiently pulled the fish to shore. This was, to me, the only enjoyable part of fishing. Usually, that moment of excitement was preceded by tedious “hours” (at least it seemed so to me) of waiting for this to happen. My father, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy fishing whether we caught anything or not. As I have gotten older and experienced the pressing cares of this world, I can understand a little more clearly what the attraction of casting a hook into a shady stream on a lazy summer day, really is.
The Psalmist writes, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psa 46:10-11) Man’s natural religious bent is primarily only satisfied with result-oriented activity. Those who are carnal have no interest in being still before the LORD. In fact, they view such “inactivity” as being a waste of time. They are more concerned with “doing” than “waiting”.
We see a good illustration of this in the account of Mary and Martha in the book of Luke. “Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
Martha was primarily concerned with “serving” her GUEST. But Mary desired to “wait” upon her GUEST and enjoy HIS presence and hear HIS word. The LORD did not rebuke Martha for her “activity” but HE made it clear that Mary’s desire was that which was eternal. “For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Cor.4:18) Carnal men cannot appreciate that which is spiritual anymore than they can produce that which is spiritual.
We see the same thing demonstrated when the LORD dined at Simon the Leper’s house. (see Luke 7:36-50) Simon, who was a Pharisee, had prepared a sumptuous banquet for the LORD, yet there came in a woman (uninvited), who was “a sinner” who waited upon the LORD and bathed HIS feet with her tears and anointed HIS head with precious ointment. Some even criticized the woman, saying she had wasted such “precious ointment” when its value could have been used to “feed the poor”. “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Isa 66:2) The “poor” have meat to eat that others never taste.
Waiting for the LORD is synonymous with “worshipping” HIM. John fell at HIS feet as a dead man when the LORD appeared to him on Patmos and Daniel was silenced by the same ONE. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of GOD nor can it comprehend the nature of true worship. Nothing which men produce is “spiritual” nor can they instigate nor enhance true worship. Neither, will that which is truly spiritual appeal to the flesh. We can see this illustrated in Simon the Sorcerer, who missed the glory of the LORD’s presence in his desire to personally profit from the work of the SPIRIT. (see Acts 8:9-23) So too, do multitudes hunger for the euphoria of sing alongs and theatric productions, masquerading as “worship”, in the present day.
The LORD alone can give a man a desire to worship HIM and true worship alone can satisfy the hungry soul who is compelled to wait upon the LORD. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) “The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lam 3:24-26)
The true child of GOD often finds himself seeking the LORD but finding HIM not. “I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.” (Son 5:5-6) This stirs up an even greater desire in him to “wait for the LORD”. “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Rom 8:25) “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psa 27:14)
The true child of GOD is compelled to “wait for the LORD”, even in the darkest hour of midnight because his “hope is in the LORD”. He has no desire or expectation of receiving help from any but that ONE in whom his soul delights. “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” (Psa. 39:7)
The Psalmist said, “in HIS word do I hope”. This is exactly what Peter confessed unto the LORD when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John 6:68) The sons of GOD are brought to believe the WORD of GOD. They find great comfort in the promises of GOD which are yea and amen. The gift of faith which is bestowed upon them by the SPIRIT of GOD causes them to confess that “salvation is of the LORD”. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom 10:10-11)
The strength of the children of GOD is manifested as they wait for the LORD. “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.” (Isa 40:31) “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psa 27:14)
The children of GOD are encouraged in the midst of a wicked world as they wait for the LORD. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” (Psa 37:7) “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” (Psa 37:9 )
The salvation of the children of GOD is demonstrated as they wait for the LORD. “Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.” (Mic 7:7) “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” (Psa 25:4-5)
It holds the weak believer up, In the distressing hour.
The darkest cloud hope pierces through, And waits upon the Lord,
Expects to prove that all is true Throughout the sacred word.
True hope looks out for blessing great;And, though they're long delayed,
Yet hope's determined still to wait, Until they are conveyed.
Hope long will wait, and wait again, And ne'er can give it up,
Till the blest Lamb, who once was slain, Appears the God of hope.
#244 Gadsby's Hymns by Robert Burnham