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Lent 2015 Devotional—Day 26

2015LentCoverWebExpectant Waiting

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
    and put their trust in him.
Psalm 40:1-3

“Wait” is one of those ugly four letter words, and one of my least favorite things to do. I don’t like waiting – whether in line at the post office, the grocery store, or waiting for test results from the doctor. But in today’s text David shows himself to know quite a lot about waiting. He had to wait 15 excruciating years from the time he was anointed to be king until he actually became king. David spent a lot of time in wilderness caves and desert dens, waiting.

There is no other person in the Bible more grounded in waiting than David (Psalm 27:14; 37:7; 62:1,5; 69:3, etc.). Israel’s history reveals that the long years of waiting refined David’s faith and taught him to live by God’s timetable rather than his own. David comes to understand that as important as what he waits for, is what God does in him while he waits. “Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.” (John Ortberg, published sermon in “Preaching Today”)

David does not begin today’s psalm with his problems but begins by waiting patiently for God. And David is doing more than just waiting it out, and marking time. He’s waiting for God! And therein lies a big difference! There are about a dozen Hebrew words in the Psalms translated by one English word, “wait”. Waiting is a big word in the psalmists’ vocabulary of faith. The Hebrew word qava, translated in our text as “wait patiently”, has the idea of eagerly looking, expecting, hoping, as well as waiting. The ideas of patience, hanging-in-there, hoping, and expecting are all implicit in the word David uses. David doesn’t know when God will act, but he is determined to expectantly wait for Him.

In just a few lines David spells out a telling sequence of spiritual truth: David cries to God – David waits patiently for God – God hears – God acts. Then God gives David a “new song” to sing, a new story to tell of God’s grace and saving help.

We are fortunate that David says nothing more about his problems other than God delivered him from “the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire”. This means that we can fill in the blanks. We can tell our own versions of slimy pits, and the mud and mire from which God delivers us.

Notice the significant change of pronouns in these lines as David changes from “my” to “our”, including you and me in that change. “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” In changing pronouns David is including you and me. We all have miry pits, we all wait and wait for God, and we all have new songs of deliverance.

Henri Nouwen once said that our greatest gift to the world is our story. What have been your miry pits? What has waiting been like for you? What is your new song? David directs that this psalm be turned over to “the director of music”, intending for future generations to join his new song of praise. And because of that: “Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” For this we expectantly wait!

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