July 10, 2022 | Wait on the Lord| Psalm 25
Sunday morning is often a time when everything is okay. Right? ‘How are you’ greetings are answered in positive ways, smiles abound, and when the service starts everyone is supposed to be happy and upbeat, right?
No matter how bad it is, when we come in the doors of the church building we have learned to put on a face.
But the reality is that life is hard.
And although we have often shied away from negative feelings in the church, it is comforting to know that we find no such nonsense in scripture. We find men and women of God struggling with troubles, anxiety, doubt, and enemies. Maybe none more so than David, the man the Bible describes as a man after God’s own heart. In the Psalms we find David expressing a full range of emotions from ecstatic joy to utter hopelessness.
He describes himself often as, feeling alone, surrounded by enemies, depressed, overwhelmed by problems, facing troubles both known and feared, and fearing that he will ultimately be disappointed.
How many of you have felt like this?
Where do we turn? Some turn to things to distract, some turn to things that are numb, and some try and fight their way out, or fake it till they make it, but where should a child of God turn? Where should you turn in seasons of life like this?
David, later in his life penned a psalm during such a time in his own life.
This psalm is bookended by the phrase wait on the Lord.
None who wait on you will be put to shame (verse 3) and for I wait for you (verse 21)
And in that phrase we understand that the key to difficult times for the believer is to, as David says, wait on the Lord.
In this short Psalm David deals with a specific time in his life, but he leaves it general enough that I think we can easily apply the fundamental truths found within to our own lives. Psalms like this answer important questions for us, like how should I engage with God when things aren’t going well for me, when he doesn’t seem to be answering in the way or time frame I want. How do I handle when people are coming against me when I feel like I haven’t done anything wrong?
So if you are facing a difficult situation, from enemies without, or enemies within, if you are down, overwhelmed, and worried that everything is not going to work out, I pray that David’s words will speak to you today as we look at what it means to wait on the Lord.
Psalms 25 (ESV)
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. 6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! 8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11 For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. 12 Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. 13 His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. 14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant. 15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. 18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. 19 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. 20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. 21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you. 22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.
Let’s collectively ask three questions from our text this morning.
The first is…
What does it mean to wait on the Lord?
This is not the only time this terminology of waiting is used.
God, in talking to his people through Isaiah says "Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” (ESV) 49:20
The Psalmists use this term again and again
Psalms 27:14 (ESV) 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!
Psalms 37:34 (ESV) 34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
Psalm 40 (ESV) 1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
Psalms 52:8-9 (ESV) 8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. 9 I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
Psalms 130:5-6 (ESV) 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
When we hear the word wait, we often think of passive waiting. Waiting at the doctor’s appointment, waiting on something to start, waiting on the kids to get ready, etc…But the word David uses here is not just a passive waiting for something to happen. The idea is more than passively waiting, but rather anticipating and ordering our activities around a future event. It is an active waiting. We are going about our day, working according to what we know, with our eyes towards the Lord, anticipating what he is going to do.
In short, life does not stop when we wait on the Lord.
Listen to the way David describes his waiting on the Lord.
1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in you I trust;
Lift up my soul- in the OT to lift up to something is to give attention to something, particularly either in pursuit of it or to put your trust in it (we might say, I put my life in your hands Lord)
In you I trust- confidence
Waiting on the Lord is both placing your focus and your confidence in God, even and especially in the most difficult times.
Does it mean that we won’t face seasons of doubt, or concern? Absolutely not, listen to what David says next.
Let me not be put to shame, let not my enemies exult over me. The idea of shame here carries the idea of being disappointed. David is concerned that his enemies are going to triumph over him and rejoice in his defeat.
If you hear nothing else today, here this, there is room for doubt in waiting on the Lord, but we never stop trusting in the Lord. Notice that even as David is concerned with his situation, he firmly keeps his eyes on and trust in God and his sovereignty.
David is holding firm to the promise of God that those who wait for the Lord will not be put to shame, not be disappointed. He can’t see a way out, he doesn’t know how God is going to move and work in this situation, but he trusts that He will. No matter how bad it gets, in verse 15 David describes his situation as literally already having his feet in the net of his enemies, he trusts that God will pluck him out of it. So he never takes his eyes off the Lord.
The author of Hebrews uses similar language when he says Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus.
Eyes fixed to Jesus, running the race before us, with all of its trials and temptations, enemies and problems, knowing that in Him we will not be disappointed.
To wait on the Lord is to trust that he will do what he says he will do, even, and especially when we can’t see how we are going to get out of this situation, how he is going to deliver us, how he is going to fix it.
What does it mean for you to wait on the Lord? It is to firmly place your faith in the person and work of Jesus, and keep it there no matter what happens.
The second question is…
What do I do while I wait on the Lord?
David gives us insight into what we should do in this psalm. Here are three things we do while we wait on the Lord.
Seek His Direction, Confess our Sins, and Reflect on what we know about Him
Let’s take each one of those and see what David says concerning it.
Seek His Direction
David’s immediate petition after declaring his trust in God is to ask for instruction. 4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. 5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
There is a beautiful progression here when you look at the words David chooses to use here. Make me, teach me, lead me. In this threefold poetic restatement of asking God for knowledge I think there is insight for us in how we should seek God’s direction.
Make me know your ways- cause me to know how you desire me to live, go, act (initiate)
Teach me your paths- instruct me in your well worn paths (goad- urge)
I love the imagery of well worn paths (God has led many saints before us. We are not the first to need or benefit from his direction and we will not be the last. God is a God that leads his people in the way he wants them to go)
Lead me in your truth and teach me- (bend me- the idea comes from stepping on a bow in order to string it)
When we are waiting on God we need to remind ourselves that it isn’t just about what he is going to do, it is about what he desires for us to do, so we seek his wisdom in how we should live and what we should do.
Confess your sins
While we are waiting on God, we should examine our own hearts and make sure we are not harboring any secret sins. I know, in my own life, too often, I am so wrapped up in my external situations that I don’t stop and look internally. David concludes this first set of seven verses by asking God to forgive his sins. 7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
Both his former sins (sins of my youth) and his current sins, my transgressions, literally, my rebellion.
I think sometimes God allows us to encounter difficulties because we are in rebellion or our own sin has brought difficulties and we are praying God will save us from them without acknowledging our sin before him.
What keeps us from confessing our sins is either a refusal to see them for what they are or we are worried God won’t forgive us of them but notice what David says.
According to your steadfast love, for the sake of your goodness. Your mercy and steadfast love are of old. David comes before God in confession because he knows God to be merciful and loving, which leads us to the third thing we do. We seek God’s direction, we confess our sins, and we…
Reflect on the character of God
Notice what David does now. He moves from his situation and his confession into rehearsing what he knows to be true about God.
Psalms 25:8-10 (ESV) 8 Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. 9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. 10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
This statement shows his confidence in both his request for instruction and his confession of sin. God is good and upright, so he will instruct repentant sinners in the way. David again uses this set of three words to describe God’s teaching work, instruct, lead, and teach. God will teach those that seek his way.
He is good and upright. These are the two things when we are struggling to wait on the Lord that get called into question aren't they? Our struggles and situations can cause us to ask, is God good and is God just?
We know these things to be true, but our situations can cloud our minds, so whether or not we feel these in our hearts, we must hold them firm in our minds.
We must take our emotions, our fear, our anxiety, and even our expectations and lay them before God in humility and say, even though I don’t understand, even though I may not feel it, I know you are good and I know you are righteous.
I know that your paths are good and trustworthy.
What’s David saying here? I know that your way is the right way.
We wait on God because we know that we want to go where he leads, we wait on God because we know his way is the right way, because he is good, righteous, loving, and faithful.
Are you in a season of waiting? Then be in a season of seeking God’s direction, confessing your sins, and reflect on what you know to be true of God.
The third question is…
Why should I wait on the Lord?
Here’s the question, right? Why should I wait on the Lord? Shouldn’t I just do what I think is best? Can’t I make a pro/cons list? Can’t I just do it my way?
Proverbs 14:12 (ESV) 12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
But those who fear the Lord, those who wait on him? David tells us what their end is.
Psalms 25:12-13 (ESV) 12 Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. 13 His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.
God’s way leads to life. As David says in verse 3, none who waits on the Lord will be ashamed, or disappointed.
No matter how bad it seems. Listen to David’s description of his situation.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. 17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. 18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. 19 Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.
Even in the midst of what sounds like an awful situation, David believed it was worth trusting in and waiting on the Lord. That ultimately, God’s way would lead to life and goodness.
That is still true today. God is still good, he is still righteous, he is still merciful, loving, and he still delivers those who wait for him. He will lead you and teach you and he will deliver you.
Are you experiencing a season of troubles? Are you dealing with things that overwhelm you? Are you anxious that things won’t work out? Let David’s declaration of trust encourage you. Let his example move you. Let his faithfulness inspire you.
Have you placed your confidence in God, not just for your temporary situations, but your eternal one?
When we read this Psalm in light of the New Testament, we know that David’s prayer was ultimately answered in God sending his son Jesus.
God did what he said he was going to do. He made the way, the truth, and the life evident for all those who would believe. He rescued sinners from the grip of sin and death and provided the one thing that every person needs to experience, redemption in Christ Jesus.
So, how are you doing this morning?
No matter how bad your situation, no matter how hopeless it feels, how deeply you feel caught in sin, troubles, or tribulations, the call is the same, look to Jesus.