Waiting Patiently for the Lord

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter.

David begins Psalm 40 by saying, “I waited patiently for the Lord.” He seems to be reflecting back over some really difficult time in his life. Although we don’t know the exact nature of the situation he was faced, there is no indication that he was anxious or fretting about God’s delay in helping him. I’m still learning that lesson! Someone once said that it’s best not to pray for the Lord to help you learn patience, for you can be sure that He will do that by sending a difficult situation, or person, which He will use to help teach you.

If you continue reading in Psalm 40, it says that the Lord “inclined to me and heard my cry.” I find great comfort in that. The Lord hears us when we cry out to him in our pain, and He turns toward us because He loves and cares about us. He sees us in our time of need and He’s there to help. 

Verse two says that he also did something about David’s situation. “He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock.” There’s nothing worse than walking through “mucky mud” that hinders your progress and may even pull off one of your shoes. The situation may even be more like that of sinking down into “quicksand.” That was always a frightening sight to me when I used to watch those old jungle movies as a boy. But here we see the Lord reaching down, lifting us up, putting our feet on a rock and making our feet secure! Our situation may seem hopeless, but the Lord will surely help us in our times of desperate need when we call out to him.

We also see a picture here of the Lord being the Rock of our salvation, as it says in Psalm 95:1. He surely is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” (Psalm 46:1). He puts our feet on solid ground and makes our steps secure. That Rock is Jesus, our hope and deliverer. We are truly safe in Him. And the truth and promises of God’s Word are a rock and the sure foundation for our faith. David concludes by saying, “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise (and thanksgiving) to our God.” And as a result “many” will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

Psalm 40 began with David recalling God’s deliverance in the past, but it closes with David trusting the Lord in his present situation. He says, “I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought of me. You are my help and my deliverer. Do not delay.” May we also learn to admit our need to the Lord, and cry out to Him for his help, mercy and grace. You can know that he hears you, sees your situation, and in his perfect timing will lift you out of the pit you may be in. He will set your feet on a Rock and will again put a song in your heart. It begins with your waiting patiently for the Lord. His timing is always perfect. His grace and power to help are more than sufficient for your need.

David’s closing words in the psalm are simply, “You are my help and my deliverer. Do not delay, O my God!”

Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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