WAITING — Pete Bauer
This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on July 14, 2013. For the audio just click on this link – Ps 27.
This morning we want to look at a Psalm that is about waiting on the Lord during times of difficulty and trouble. One way or another most of us spend a lot of our lives waiting. We live in situations that are not or cannot be quickly or easily resolved. We wonder why God allows us to go through difficult situations. David, for instance, was anointed king of Israel, and then spent years waiting while Saul chased him around the wilderness trying to kill him. We face situations of our own….
- ~ When we are concerned for someone we love, but can’t help them – in danger, in physical illness, in spiritual darkness or sorrow
- ~ When we face oppression or hatred from enemies, or the brokenness of a family.
- ~ When we face illness or pain that is long term.
- ~ when we suffer sorrow or loss, abandonment, fear or disappointment.
- ~ As we wait for the coming of Christ to deliver us from a fallen world.
… In all of these instances we may be called to “wait on the Lord”. But how are we supposed to do that? What does it mean to wait on the Lord? Is “waiting on the Lord” just a description of helplessness, or is it active? This morning, we want to see David’s worship song as a model of what it means to actively wait on the Lord. The song has four sections.
1) Rehearse What You Know is True – Vs.1-3.
Rehearse What is True About God: “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid” These sound like Big Words – a lot of confidence (and when we get to vs.7-12, we will see David is not so confident). So is David just posturing? No. He is beginning his song by saying what he knows to be true – rehearsing to himself what he believes and asking himself why he is afraid.
This way of talking to ourselves should be very familiar. People talk to themselves when they are afraid – try to make light of their fears, even as their stomachs are churning with anxiety. The point here is that what David is saying is quite true. He both believes it and struggles to believe it. And this is where many of us are as we face fears and sufferings, loss and disappointment.
2) Ask for One Thing – Vs.4-6.
Recognize The Ground of True Satisfaction and Rest: “One thing I ask, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, to seek him in his temple. ”
What is David saying here? Has he gone super-spiritual? Is this just spiritual poetry? No, David is recognizing something about his waiting and his desires. That even if he gets exactly what he wants, there is no guarantee of satisfaction – our desires have a way of multiplying. That our desires multiply because at the foundation of all our desires is a desire to be well and to be at rest and to worship. We need to worship! We were made to worship! All people worship… something.
David is not being super spiritual here – he is realizing that there is only one way to find joy and satisfaction in this life – and that is to be in God’s presence:
- ~ To be in the presence of God – through prayer and worship and stillness.
- ~ To gaze at the beauty of the Lord’s character – through study and meditation and hearing.
- ~ To seek God in his Temple – actively pursuing and looking for the experience of God’s presence.
So That, In the Day of Trouble, You May Be Secure: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling… and set me high upon a rock”
The point of finding satisfaction and peace in God’s presence, for David, is so that in the day of trouble he will be able to wait and trust that God is in control – that God is good – so that he will be able to be at peace. This is, in fact, what David is doing in this Psalm – he is praising God, in time of trouble – not because he doesn’t care about being king – not because everything is fine – but because he believes that the satisfaction of the soul is only to be found in worship and in the presence of God.
This is not a way of saying, “trouble isn’t trouble” – or – “I just feel happy despite my troubles” – that is nonsense. This is not some psychological trick. David is recognizing what will bring him peace. There is a struggle going on in this Psalm because, like us, David has tied up the satisfaction of his soul into all kinds of desires and hopes and wants. We do that.
Waiting on the Lord and struggling to turn to God in faith and hope and worship is the process by which God begins, graciously, to untie us from the cords of our desires that control how we feel.
3) Confront Your Fears with Faith – Vs.7-12.
Be Honest About Your Fears: “Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger… Do not reject me or forsake me… Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes…” These are very honest statements about David’s fear. He is afraid! And underlying these statements is David’s recognition that he has not been the person he ought to have been – that he is a sinner. David believes that God has reason to reject him, to turn away from him in anger and abandon him.
This is the truth in suffering, sorrow, fear, affliction, pain, illness, loss, disappointment. We can always look at our lives and see that our sin has justly earned suffering. We know that we are not innocent before God. Our minds quickly turn to look for the reasons of our present sufferings in the sins of our past. David feels this way too – and expresses it in the worship Psalm of Israel. And part of our need in waiting is to express honestly to God the fearful things we believe.
Confront Your Fears By Drawing Near: “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!‘ Your face, Lord, I will seek.” To seek simply means to look for something. And while God does not have a physical face, per se, the face of God usually refers to having communion or conversation with God. Moses, for instance, spoke to God as a man speaks to his friend, face to face. So David is saying this: Though I am afraid that you might abandon me or reject me – still, I will come to you in prayer and in worship and through your word, to have conversation with you – to hear from you and to tell you my troubles and hopes and fears.
This is different from what is more natural to us – to worry and fret and to draw away from God with our unexpressed fears, into ourselves.
Confront Your Fears With What Your Know of God’s Grace, and Trust Him: Probably David’s greatest fear and insecurity is that God will abandon him because he is unworthy – he expresses this fear elsewhere as well (Ps.51). Because we know he struggled with this, his next statement is all the more difficult to make – a very difficult act of faith… “Do not reject me or forsake me, O God, my savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”
This is a statement of the grace of God. Yes God knows David’s sin – but even though his sin might be too much for his closest family relationships – God loves him more. God is more gracious towards us than any person we know.
Confront Your Fears By Remembering God’s Past Faithfulness: “… do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.” We can look back and see times when God was kind to us despite our foolishness and waywardness. We can look back and see God’s faithfulness to us over the course of our lives. We can look back and see that while we were yet in rebellion, Christ died for us on the cross.
Confront Your Fears By Submitting Yourself to God’s Correction: “Teach me your way, O Lord. Lead me in a straight path…” Because David can trust that God won’t condemn him or abandon him, he can say – “Show me where my heart isn’t right. Take my fears and my sins and show me how to become less fearful. Show me how to turn from the sin in my life that shakes my confidence and makes me fearful of your judgment.” We are usually afraid of correction, but when we are willing to face our fears and ask for correction, we open ourselves up to be changed.
4) Take Heart and Wait.
Choose to Wait and Believe: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” David has no proof that he will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He is choosing to believe – to be confident in what he believes. Waiting is not our choice. We don’t get to choose whether we will wait through a time of sorrow or suffering or fear. But whether we panic or become bitter or distrustful – or whether we wait as David has waited is our choice.
His last words are words he speaks to himself, telling himself to wait and take heart. This is where the Psalm comes to its final statement. It is not an easily or lightly made statement, but an act of struggle and faith. Wait.