Psalm 27 is a psalm of David. The psalm focuses on David’s faith in God and his assurance that God will be with him despite all the uncertainties that surround him. The psalm ends by saying, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord” (v. 14). The message is echoed throughout the Psalms (33:20; 37:7; 40:1; 130:5). With such a sampling, it would be wise for us to consider what it means to “wait on the Lord.”
What does it mean to “wait on the Lord”? First, it implies a trust in the One who will act in our stead. We believe that God is mightier and wiser than ourselves. We trust that when we are in a situation that we cannot handle, God will deliver us by His own wisdom and might. In Psalm 121, a Song of Ascents, the pilgrim sings, “I will lift up my eyes to the hill—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (vs. 1-2). From beyond the vision of the microscope to beyond the vision of the telescope, God is the creator of all things. His infinite power is seen in the first six days of the creation week. So great is His power that our finite minds cannot comprehend it. Yet we can trust in Him because of that power. Just as Daniel trusted God to deliver him from the lion’s den and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego trusted that the Lord would deliver them from the fiery furnace, God, by some means, will deliver us as well.
Second, “waiting on the Lord” involves patience. Often, we claim that we are patient; however, our mannerisms portray impatience. How often does our mind begin to turn over and over when we have waited only a few days and in some instances a few hours? How often we do begin to complain and grumble when answers do not come according to our timeline?
James illustrates it well when he says, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain” (James 5:7). Have you ever seen a farmer walking the rows of his field grumbling and wringing his hands, anxiously demanding his crop to come up immediately? So why, when we place our petition before the Lord, do we demand the results right then and there? John wrote, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
Sarah grew tired of waiting on the Lord. God had promised Abraham that He would give him a son. Year after time, time slowly slipped away in the mind of Sarah. She inevitably devised a plan for Abraham to have her maidservant. As Bible students, we remember the heartbreak that came through that decision.
Sadly, impatience often becomes our downfall as well. How many young people pray for a good godly mate? They see the clock ticking. They long for the house with the white picket fence and the kids running around. Yet, over time and desperation, they “settle” for either someone outside of Christ or a Christian who is only half-hearted in their convictions. Out of desperation, they make their decision to their own hurt. “Waiting on the Lord” means that we wait patiently for His answer. That is a hard one, isn’t it?
Third, “waiting on the Lord” means allowing God to work out the problem not only in His own time but in His own way. We often know exactly what we need and expect God to answer our request in the way we want. However, God is all-knowing and we are not. It may be that the very answer we desire may be our own downfall. Because of God’s great love for us, He can choose to respond in any number of ways to fulfill our needs.
Ceasing to demand that God answer in our own way allows us to truly walk by faith. It means that we give up control and allow God to act on our behalf, working on His own time and in His own way. This takes a great deal of faith. When Habakkuk said, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’, and You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?” (Hab. 1:2-3), the prophet was looking for answers to his nation’s problems. He was astonished when God said that He would bring upon Israel the bitter and hasty nation of the Chaldeans to take care of the problem. The prophet concluded his book by saying, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills” (3:17-19).
These are true words of faith by a man of faith. We see from time to time the bumper sticker God Is My Co-Pilot. Thus, we bring God along for a ride through our lives. Yet it is another thing completely to put Him in the pilot’s seat and let Him take us where He so chooses. As we put our teens in the driver’s seat, we are naturally apprehensive. We have placed our vehicle and our lives in the palm of their hands. We are reluctant because we know that they currently do not have the skills to go out on the road by themselves. It should be different with God. He is an infinitely better driver than we are. “Walking by faith” means that we wrestle our apprehension down to the ground and seek to develop the true peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).
“Waiting on the Lord” is about mastering ourselves. It is about developing our patience and trust in Him. This comes through our diligent study of His Word. Paul stated, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Understanding the depths of “waiting on the Lord” means that we dedicate ourselves to the study of the character of God and how He has worked with His people and even other nations to bring out His ultimate good. Until we do, we will never truly appreciate the peace that comes through “waiting on the Lord.”