Daily Bible thoughts 1030: Thursday 10th December 2015: Psalm 119:81-88: Waiting for God.

‘’How long…?’’ (84).

During one pastoral visit to a home in Lancaster, I noticed a plaque over the fireplace saying, ‘’Lord grant me patience, but hurry!’’ Waiting doesn’t come naturally, but we have to learn to both wait on and for God.

We have noted before the darkly sinister background ‘noise’ of persecution in this psalm. The words in this passage are full of longing, and waiting for God to fulfil His Word and take decisive action against the psalmist’s enemies. We feel we can identify with him as we look to God to come to help us in situations of urgent need. Our backs are ‘against the wall’ and we know that if the Lord doesn’t intervene there is nothing we can do. How hard it can be to have to wait though. The greater the pain, the harder the waiting. ‘’ How long do I have to put up with all this? How long till you haul my tormentors into court?’’ The Message.

‘’…and this is the primary lesson to learn,that at the end of our tether there is a place called ‘Prayer’. Very often prayer is the first casualty of suffering, whereas it is in reality the surest remedy.’’ J.A. Motyer: ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.569.

We may know God’s promises, but we have a responsibility to do something with them in prayer: to ‘long’ for their fulfilment (81a), to ‘look’ for them (82), to put our ‘hope’ in them (81b). The promises of God should shape our prayers and strengthen our faith. They are, as Spurgeon said, like cheques to take to the counter of the Bank of heaven, where they will be honoured.

As this psalm goes on, it reminds me of Jesus, who was hated without a cause (86). They ‘’almost wiped’’ Him ‘’from the earth’’ (87a), but He never let go of God’s Word (87b).The Lord ‘preserved’ His life (88; see Isaiah 53:10, 11). If we ever fear that, in prayer, we will be kept waiting indefinitely for a train that never arrives, let’s remember the cross of Jesus, and His resurrection. He speaks to us a word of eternal hope, that evil will not have the final say, and we will be delivered.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for your sure Word. In these stormy times it remains as rock beneath my feet.