by Mark Huey
Human nature by design was created in the image and likeness of the Creator (Genesis 1:26-27), and consequently—since the Maker is an initiator of actions from declaring that there be light, to the infinitesimal details of the motions of the universe, down to the anatomical minutiae of every particle ever conceived—the propensity for the people He made to naturally yearn to make things happen, is intrinsically normal. In fact, upon the formation of humanity, God positioned man and woman as stewards over the Earth with its creatures and vegetation, ultimately proclaiming the extraordinary goodness of what He initially intended them to do, as noted in what is known as the Adamic or Edenic covenant/mandate:
“God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:28-31, NASU).
Nevertheless, despite being given preeminent authority over the created order, after Adam and Eve chose to disobey the instruction from the Almighty to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the consequence was ensuing curses, including a spiritual death (separation from communion with God), and expulsion from the idyllic setting in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:14-24). This resulted in a more complex relationship between humanity and their Creator, as fallen, independent people began the classic struggle between their blinded, carnal inclinations, and the choice always extended by the Maker to return to dependent communion with Him. Down through the annals of time, the Lord has preserved a record (the Holy Scriptures) of various people and their actions, as the ultimate goal of the Holy One was and remains to restore people to a position where He can commune with them and them with Him. However, the challenge of overcoming the sin nature inherited in Adam has always impeded humanity’s blessed communion—which is perhaps most readily exemplified by impetuous peoples’ unwillingness to wait patiently upon the Lord for His will to be done. Too many people prefer instead, to make poor, flesh-driven choices, that result in reaping what is sown on both spiritual and physical levels.
Providentially for instruction and edification, the Holy Scriptures are replete with many contrasting examples of both those who have waited on the promised words and commands of God, and those who have not. As I was searching the Tanakh recently, two Hebrew words generally, or at least often, translated into English as “wait” or “waiting,” caught my attention: yachal and chul/chil. Obviously, each verb has to be evaluated in the passage or passages where it appears, and they may also take on interesting nuances depending on the Hebrew verb stem which is employed. (For a brief summary, we recommend Miles V. Van Pelt, Biblical Hebrew: A Compact Guide [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012].) Yet, yachal seems to widely just mean “wait” (BDB, 403-404; CHALOT, 133), whereas chul/chil can take on the connotation of waiting, being in stress, some kind of trepidation, or even childbirth (BDB, 297; CHALOT, 102). There are some important spiritual lessons to be learned by noting some key places where these terms appear.
There are two places in Deuteronomy, where terror or anguish is used to describe not only the enemies of Israel, but also Israel itself, as it might fail to recognize the origin of its birth:
“This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens, who, when they hear the report of you, will tremble and be in anguish [v’chalu, Qal vav consecutive perfect] because of you” (Deuteronomy 2:25, NASU).
“But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—you are grown fat, thick, and sleek—then he forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation. They made Him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread. You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth [mehol’lekha, Polel participle]. The LORD saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters. Then He said, ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness” (Deuteronomy 32:15-20, NASU).
The concept of properly waiting upon the Lord, trusting in Him alone for His timing on the affairs of the world, should be an instructional theme for the generations who follow the God of Israel to consider—especially as the lives of the patriarchs, monarchs, and prophets of Israel are recorded for posterity’s sake.
Noah was a man who found favor with God (Genesis 6:8), and received instruction to build an ark which he patiently did for some one hundred years, as he waited upon the Lord to bring a devastating flood upon the Earth:
“Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch’” (Genesis 6:11-14, NASU).
Noah’s patient construction project, and his faithfulness to obey, were eventually rewarded, after the deluge of forty days and nights subsided. However, after waiting another one hundred and fifty days for the water to recede with the Ark finally coming to rest on the mountains of Ararat, we see how Noah had some difficulty with waiting, notably as he had sent out a raven, and later a dove, to see whether or not the waters had regressed:
“But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible. Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. So he waited [v’yachel, Piel vav consecutive imperfect] yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. Then he waited [v’yiyachel:, Nifal vav consecutive imperfect] yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again. Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up” (Genesis 8:1-13, NASU).
Based on the two forms of the verb yachal appearing, in the Piel stem (intensive action, active voice) in v. 10, followed by the Nifal stem (simple action, passive voice) in v. 12, it would seem that the manner in which Noah waited changed from the time immediately after the Flood and the horrific circumstances he had just witnessed—to some time later as things calmed down. Even though Noah had found favor with God, he was still human, and he was doubtlessly a bit emotional about the circumstances he was experiencing, as an expectant, perhaps even uneasy waiting—transitioned to a more steady wait with God in control. The raven he sent out returned without an indication that plant life survived the Flood. After waiting another seven days, Noah sent out a dove, which then returned with a freshly picked olive leaf in its beak. Perhaps with some faith in the promises of God, after waiting another seven days, Noah sent out a second dove, which did not return to the Ark. At this point, he realized that the waters were receding, and it was soon time for the animals aboard to disembark.
Job was a tested and tried ancient follower of the One True God, noted in Scripture for his enduring patience.
Job’s primary sin which was being dealt with, during his season of affliction, was an inherent pride and self-righteousness buried deep in his heart. Despite the fact that comparatively speaking, Job’s good works toward others exceeded most people today—the Lord allowed Satan to sift him physically, while bringing a number of counselors with varying words, and ultimately Himself admonishing Job for his besetting sin. First are the piercing words of Eliphaz the Temanite, which questioned Job’s high opinion of his relationship with God. These are followed by the youngest, yet seemingly wisest Elihu, who pointed out the pride of Job and his need to fearfully wait upon the Lord:
“Then Eliphaz the Temanite responded, ‘Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge and fill himself with the east wind? Should he argue with useless talk, or with words which are not profitable? Indeed, you do away with reverence and hinder meditation before God. For your guilt teaches your mouth, and you choose the language of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, and not I; and your own lips testify against you. Were you the first man to be born, or were you brought forth [cholalta, Polal perfect] before the hills? Do you hear the secret counsel of God, and limit wisdom to yourself? What do you know that we do not know? What do you understand that we do not? Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us, older than your father. Are the consolations of God too small for you, even the word spoken gently with you? Why does your heart carry you away? And why do your eyes flash, that you should turn your spirit against God and allow such words to go out of your mouth? What is man, that he should be pure, or he who is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in His sight; how much less one who is detestable and corrupt, man, who drinks iniquity like water! I will tell you, listen to me; and what I have seen I will also declare; what wise men have told, and have not concealed from their fathers, to whom alone the land was given, and no alien passed among them. The wicked man writhes [mitcholeil, Hitpolel participle] in pain all his days, and numbered are the years stored up for the ruthless. Sounds of terror are in his ears; while at peace the destroyer comes upon him. He does not believe that he will return from darkness, and he is destined for the sword. He wanders about for food, saying, ‘Where is it?’ He knows that a day of darkness is at hand. Distress and anguish terrify him, they overpower him like a king ready for the attack, because he has stretched out his hand against God and conducts himself arrogantly against the Almighty” (Job 15:1-25, NASU).
“Then Elihu continued and said, ‘Do you think this is according to justice? Do you say, “My righteousness is more than God’s “? For you say, “What advantage will it be to You? What profit will I have, more than if I had sinned?” I will answer you, And your friends with you. Look at the heavens and see; and behold the clouds—they are higher than you. If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him? And if your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give to Him, or what does He receive from your hand? Your wickedness is for a man like yourself, and your righteousness is for a son of man. Because of the multitude of oppressions they cry out; they cry for help because of the arm of the mighty. But no one says, “Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?” There they cry out, but He does not answer because of the pride of evil men. Surely God will not listen to an empty cry, nor will the Almighty regard it. How much less when you say you do not behold Him, the case is before Him, and you must wait [u’techoleil, Polel imperfect] for Him! And now, because He has not visited in His anger, nor has He acknowledged transgression well, so Job opens his mouth emptily; He multiplies words without knowledge” (Job 35:1-16, NASU).
Finally in the Lord’s discourse directly to Job in chapters 38-39, He metaphorically used all types of analogies, which further reminded Job of his limitations and need to fear the Almighty:
“Who has put wisdom in the innermost being or given understanding to the mind? Who can count the clouds by wisdom, or tip the water jars of the heavens, when the dust hardens into a mass and the clods stick together? Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens and lie in wait in their lair? Who prepares for the raven its nourishment when its young cry to God and wander about without food? Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving [choleil, Polel infinitive] of the deer? Can you count the months they fulfill, or do you know the time they give birth? They kneel down, they bring forth their young, they get rid of their labor pains. Their offspring become strong, they grow up in the open field; They leave and do not return to them” (Job 38:36-39:4, NASU).
There are various places within the Book of Job, where Job himself, while waiting, appears to have been self-righteously struggling with his flesh (Job 6). He still admitted, though, that he would hope in God—but continued to argue with the Lord (Job 13), and even enjoy others looking upon him as almost a god (Job 29):
“Oh that my request might come to pass, and that God would grant my longing! Would that God were willing to crush me, that He would loose His hand and cut me off! But it is still my consolation, and I rejoice in unsparing pain, that I have not denied the words of the Holy One. What is my strength, that I should wait [ayacheil, Piel imperfect] ? And what is my end, that I should endure? Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze? Is it that my help is not within me, and that deliverance is driven from me? For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; so that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:8-14, NASU).
“Please hear my argument and listen to the contentions of my lips. Will you speak what is unjust for God, and speak what is deceitful for Him? Will you show partiality for Him? Will you contend for God? Will it be well when He examines you? Or will you deceive Him as one deceives a man? He will surely reprove you If you secretly show partiality. Will not His majesty terrify you, and the dread of Him fall on you? Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes, Your defenses are defenses of clay. Be silent before me so that I may speak; then let come on me what may. Why should I take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in my hands? Though He slay me, I will hope [ayacheil, Piel imperfect; I will wait, New American Bible] in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, for a godless man may not come before His presence. Listen carefully to my speech, and let my declaration fill your ears. Behold now, I have prepared my case; I know that I will be vindicated. Who will contend with me? For then I would be silent and die” (Job 13:6-19, NASU).
“And Job again took up his discourse and said, ‘Oh that I were as in months gone by, as in the days when God watched over me; when His lamp shone over my head, and by His light I walked through darkness; as I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God was over my tent; when the Almighty was yet with me, and my children were around me; when my steps were bathed in butter, and the rock poured out for me streams of oil! When I went out to the gate of the city, when I took my seat in the square, the young men saw me and hid themselves, and the old men arose and stood. The princes stopped talking and put their hands on their mouths; the voice of the nobles was hushed, and their tongue stuck to their palate. For when the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it gave witness of me, because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper. The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me, and I made the widow’s heart sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I investigated the case which I did not know. I broke the jaws of the wicked and snatched the prey from his teeth. Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. ‘My root is spread out to the waters, and dew lies all night on my branch. My glory is ever new with me, and my bow is renewed in my hand.’ To me they listened and waited [v’yicheilu, Piel perfect], and kept silent for my counsel. After my words they did not speak again, and my speech dropped on them. They waited [v’yichalu, Piel perfect] for me as for the rain, and opened their mouth as for the spring rain. I smiled on them when they did not believe, and the light of my face they did not cast down. I chose a way for them and sat as chief, and dwelt as a king among the troops, as one who comforted the mourners” (Job 29:1-25, NASU).
After the text narrates how Job was righteous in his own eyes, and anger was consuming Job and his counselors—the youngest witness Elihu was finally at the point where, in what appears to be the Spirit of God welling up inside him with a righteous fear, uttered forth a critique full of wisdom:
“Then these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. But the anger of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram burned; against Job his anger burned because he justified himself before God. And his anger burned against his three friends because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job. Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were years older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of the three men his anger burned. So Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite spoke out and said, ‘I am young in years and you are old; therefore I was shy and afraid to tell you what I think. I thought age should speak, and increased years should teach wisdom. But it is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding. The abundant in years may not be wise, nor may elders understand justice. So I say, “Listen to me, I too will tell what I think.” Behold, I waited [holchalti, Hifil perfect] for your words, I listened to your reasonings, while you pondered what to say. I even paid close attention to you; indeed, there was no one who refuted Job, not one of you who answered his words. Do not say, “We have found wisdom; God will rout him, not man.” For he has not arranged his words against me, nor will I reply to him with your arguments. They are dismayed, they no longer answer; words have failed them. Shall I wait [v’holchalti, Hifil vav consecutive perfect], because they do not speak, because they stop and no longer answer? I too will answer my share, I also will tell my opinion. For I am full of words; the spirit within me constrains me. Behold, my belly is like unvented wine, like new wineskins it is about to burst. Let me speak that I may get relief; let me open my lips and answer. Let me now be partial to no one, nor flatter any man. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away” (Job 32:1-22, NASU).
From looking at the various ways that patience and waiting are described in the Book of Job, one should understand that there are forms of “waiting,” motivated by self-reliant pride—versus a trusting fear of the Lord, “waiting” upon Him in accordance with His will.
Abraham and Sarah
Recognizing much of the difficulty of waiting on the Lord is certainly seen in the decisions of Abraham and Sarah, as they lacked the patience to wait upon Him to fulfill His promise that an heir would come forth from Abraham’s own body (Genesis 15:2-4). However, the fact that the initial promise was to Abram alone, perhaps allowed the circumstances of Genesis 16, with Sarai having recommended that Abram impregnate Hagar. Of course, by not waiting for Sarah to years later conceive and give birth to Isaac, who was to be the promised seed of the couple—there have been many challenges and problems that have ensued since the birth of Ishmael, the son of Hagar, something never looked upon favorably elsewhere in the Bible (cf. Galatians 4:24-25). Perhaps only by seeing that the fleshly conception of Ishmael, was then followed by the more God-guided conception of Isaac, can Bible readers better appreciate the righteousness of Abraham and Sarah. They were still human beings who made mistakes. Only by enduring some degree of trial and agony, caused by Hagar and Ishmael among their company, could Abraham and Sarah be molded into the people God wanted them to be.
Consider this uplifting, but somewhat revealing word, to those pursuing righteousness found in Isaiah 51:
“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain [techolelkhem, Polel imperfect]; when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him” (Isaiah 51:1-2, NASU).
An instance where there was definitely some long suffering, in waiting upon the Lord for His will to be done, can be found in the life of Joseph. During his youth Joseph had received a number of dreams (Genesis 37), which foretold what was going to eventually happen in his future life regarding his family. The dreams’ influence upon Joseph is best described in Psalm 105, where there is a confirmation that the “word” Joseph received in his dreams, was a motivating force for righteous living throughout his entire life:
“‘Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm.’ And He called for a famine upon the land; He broke the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, he himself was laid in irons; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples, and set him free. He made him lord of his house and ruler over all his possessions, to imprison his princes at will, that he might teach his elders wisdom. Israel also came into Egypt; thus Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham” (Psalm 105:15-23, NASU).
Here, the various tests of Joseph—from being sold into slavery by his brothers, to imprisonment on false accusations, to being overlooked until he was able to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh (Genesis 41)—were each trials that were diametrically opposed to the dreams that he had received. Yet because of Joseph’s great faith and hope in the word of the Holy One, he was able to endure the sufferings in order to be positioned as a physical savior for his father and brothers, and hence a fledgling nation of Israel. Clearly, he waited upon the Lord!
Moses, the great deliverer of Ancient Israel, from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, was also tested, for the Lord’s will to be manifested. From his burst of anger when upset by the ill-treatment of his brethren by the Egyptians, that warranted a personal escape into the wilderness of Midian (Exodus 2:11-15)—it is notable that this lack of patience and the propensity for anger to erupt, eventually reemerged decades later, when Moses was commanded to speak to the rock to bring forth water. However, due to his growing fatigue and frustrations with the stiff-necked and recalcitrant Israelites he was leading through the desert sojourn, he instead struck the rock twice, eliciting a punishment from the Lord that forbade his crossing over into the Promised Land:
“[A]nd the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.’ So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, ‘Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them’” (Numbers 20:7-12, NASU).
Once again, the lesson to be learned is the need to be patient and wait upon the Lord—no matter what role one has to play in God’s plan. Such is a plan that is being ultimately orchestrated by the Holy One of Israel, according to His perfect will for the Creation.
Perhaps no one understood the need to wait patiently upon the Lord better than King David, who in contrast to King Saul—and in spite of their separate anointings as the king of Israel—displayed a spirit that was able to focus steadfastly on God, even with some major transgressions complicating his life. This patience, with the Lord’s timing, is perhaps best seen in the few times that David could have taken the life of Saul, but refused to do so because he knew that Saul was an anointed king (1 Samuel 24:6-10; 26:9-23), and he was waiting on the Lord to bring about his own rule of Israel. On the other hand, Saul, a definite man of the flesh, is noted for his lack of patience when he was asked by Samuel to wait for him at Gilgal for an offering of sacrifices before the Lord. Early in his reign, while Saul waited for seven days, he was unable to hold off from offering the burnt offering before Samuel arrived, hence receiving a rebuke and eventual loss of his kingship:
“Now he waited [Ketiv (what is written): v’yiychel:, Nifal vav consecutive imperfect] seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, ‘Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.’ And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, ‘What have you done?’ And Saul said, ‘Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, “Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.” So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.’ Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you’” (1 Samuel 13:8-14, NASU).
It is here in this scene that not only is Saul’s kingdom forecast to end, but the well known statement that the Lord had sought out for Himself a “man after His own heart” and appointed him ruler over His people, is also found here, because Saul did not follow the command of the Lord.
Is this perhaps an indication to God’s people even today, that He is most pleased when they have the patience to wait upon Him, for His timing on the matters of life? Is waiting patiently upon the Lord indicative of people who have hearts which are sincerely submitting their wills to His will, with a heart after the Lord’s heart?
Taking some time to read through the many Psalms of David is a delight to behold, especially in light of all of his exhortations to wait upon the Lord, in so many of the circumstances of life in which he found himself, and just as a general rule for those who trust in the Lord for all things. Just a sampling of David’s heart is revealed in these few quotes from the Psalms, noticing the interchangeability of wait and hope:
“How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; you keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. As for me, I said in my alarm, ‘I am cut off from before Your eyes’; nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You. O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope [ha’meyachalim, Piel participle] in the LORD” (Psalm 31:19-24, NASU).
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness, to deliver their soul from death and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have hoped [yichalnu, Piel perfect] in You” (Psalm 33:18-22, NASU).
“Yes, I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no arguments. For I hope [hochalti, Hifil perfect] in You, O LORD; You will answer, O Lord my God. For I said, ‘May they not rejoice over me, who, when my foot slips, would magnify themselves against me.’ For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin. But my enemies are vigorous and strong, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. And those who repay evil for good, they oppose me, because I follow what is good. Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, do not be far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psalm 38:14-22, NASU).
“A Song of Ascents, of David. O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope [yacheil, Piel imperative] in the LORD from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 131:1-3, NASU).
In David’s Psalms, some of the places, where the verb chul is used, appears when David is in harm’s way, in the midst of his own sin, or when he is probably anticipating either human judgment or God’s judgment upon him. This is a general reminder that even if one has a heart after God’s own heart, there still remain mortal limitations which need to be controlled. There is also an absolute need, as stated by David (Psalm 51), to confess sin and seek forgiveness with a contrite heart that trusts and delights in Him (Psalm 37), anticipating His answers (Psalm 55), and the ultimate gift that those who wait upon the Lord will have an inheritance (Psalm 37):
“A Psalm of David. Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently [v’hitcholeil, Hitpoel infinitive] for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming” (Psalm 37:1-13, NASU).
“For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth [cholalti, Polal perfect] in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:1-12, NASU).
“For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Maskil of David. Give ear to my prayer, O God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me. My heart is in anguish [yachil, Qal imperfect] within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would wander far away, I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah’” (Psalm 55:1-7).
One of the best examples of waiting upon the Lord is perhaps found in the life of the Prophet Daniel, who at a young age, was captured and taken to Babylon, where he resided and was revealed important messages for the future by God. Along with Noah and Job, the Prophet Ezekiel noted that these figures all had a certain degree of righteousness, which was exemplary (Ezekiel 14:14, 20), and as noted earlier, were certainly known for their patience. In the case of Daniel, it is known from his prophecy that he studied the other prophecies which were available for him to study (such as is noted in Daniel 9:20 regarding the prophecy of Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10, and the seventy years of captivity for those of the exiled Southern Kingdom.) However, what is most intriguing about Daniel, as he was receiving visions and interpreting dreams of the Babylonian rulers, was Daniel’s knowledge of the need to wait upon the Lord’s timing in everything. This understanding ultimately led him to pray a confessional prayer for his people (in the spirit of Leviticus 26)—which those of us today surely also need to remember, read, and perhaps even recite often, as the nations continue to tumble toward the End of the Age:
“So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, ‘Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances. Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who have brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and have made a name for Yourself, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have been wicked. O Lord, in accordance with all Your righteous acts, let now Your anger and Your wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become a reproach to all those around us. So now, our God, listen to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplications, and for Your sake, O Lord, let Your face shine on Your desolate sanctuary. O my God, incline Your ear and hear! Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city which is called by Your name; for we are not presenting our supplications before You on account of any merits of our own, but on account of Your great compassion. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Your own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Daniel 9:3-19, NASU).
Wait Patiently Upon the Lord
With Daniel’s prayer in mind, and the company of witnesses from Noah, to Job, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel, and the multitude of saints who have lived down through the ages—it is imperative to note that they were all waiting patiently upon the coming of Yeshua the Messiah, and the promises of the Lord to establish His rule and reign. As the author of Hebrews says,
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASU).
Modern-day Messiah followers know that Yeshua came and offered Himself as a permanent atonement for the sin of fallen humanity, and that by faith in His accomplished work, we can each receive eternal life. Furthermore, by His words (Matthew 24; Acts 1), His followers know that at a certain appointed time established by the Father, Yeshua will return to rule and reign over Planet Earth for a thousand years, to then be followed by the Eternal State, when the Devil and the unrighteous will finally be punished.
So meanwhile, in the undeterminable wait, may the true saints of the Holy One of Israel learn to wait patiently by faith in His sovereign will and timing for all things. May they wait upon Him, rather than impatiently prefer their own will, and persevere in the work of advancing His Kingdom on Earth until the Messianic restoration of all things…