O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee: Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
~ Psalm 22:2, Psalm 86:3, Psalm 88:1, Psalm 25:5
Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
~ Proverbs 8:34, Proverbs 23:17, Isaiah 30:18
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
~ Luke 18:7
The Second Discourse: Showing How to Spend Every Day With God, by Matthew Henry. This is an excerpt from his work, “Directions for Daily Communion with God”.
On thee do I wait all the day.
~ Psalm 25:5
Which of us is there that can truly say thus! That lives this life of communion with God, which is so much our business, and so much our blessedness? How far short do we come of the spirit of holy David, though we have much better assistances for our acquaintance with God, than the saints then had by the clearer discoveries of the mediation of Christ. Yet that weak Christians who are sincere may not therefore despair, be it remembered, that David himself was not always in such a frame as that he could say so; he had his infirmities, and yet was a man after God’s own heart: We have ours, which if they be sincerely lamented and striven against, and the habitual bent of our souls be towards God, and heaven, we shall be accepted through Christ, for we are not under the law, but under grace.
However David’s profession in the text, shews us what should be our practice, on God we must wait all the day. That notes two things, a patient expectation, and a constant attendance.
1. It speaks a patient expectation of his coming to us in a way of mercy; and then, all the day must be taken figuratively, for all the time that the wanted and desired mercy is delayed. David, in the former part of the verse, prayed for divine conduct and instruction, Lead me in thy truth and teach me; he was at a loss, and very desirous to know what God would have him to do, and was ready to do it; but God kept him in suspense, he was not yet clear what was the mind and will of God, what course he should steer, and how he should dispose of himself; will he therefore proceed without divine direction? No, on thee will I wait all the day, as Abraham attended on his sacrifice from morning till the sun went down, before God gave him an answer to his inquiries concerning his seed, Genesis 15:5; Genesis 15:12 and as Habakkuk stood upon his watch tower, to see what answer God would give him, when he consulted his oracle; and though it do not come presently, yet at the end it shall speak, and not lie.
David in the words next before the text, had called God the God of his salvation, the God on whom he depended for salvation, temporal and eternal salvation, from whom he expected deliverance out of his present distresses, those troubles of his heart that were enlarged, ver. 17, and out of the hands of those enemies that were ready to triumph over him, ver 2, and that hated him with cruel hatred, ver. 19. Hoping that God will be his Saviour, he resolves to wait on him all the day, like a genuine son of Jacob, whose dying profession was, Genesis 49:18. I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord. Sometimes God prevents his people with the blessings of his goodness, before they call he answers them, is in the midst of his church, to help her, and that right early, Psalm 46:5. But at other times he seems to stand afar off, he delays the deliverance, and keeps them long in expectation of it, nay, and in suspense about it: the light is neither clear nor dark, it is day, and that is all, it is a cloudy and dark day, and it is not till evening time, that it is light, that the comfort comes which they have been kept all the day waiting for; nay, perhaps it comes not till far in the night, it is at midnight that the cry is made, Behold the bridegroom comes; the deliverance of the church out of her troubles, the success of her struggles, and rest from them, a rescue from under the rod of the wicked, and the accomplishment of all that which God hath promised concerning it, is what we must continue humbly waiting upon God for without distrust or impatience; we must wait all the day.
a. Though it be a long day; though we be kept waiting a great while, quite beyond our own reckoning. Though when we have waited long, we are still put to wait longer, and are bid with the prophet’s servant to go yet seven times,1 Kings 18:43, before we perceive the least sign of mercy coming. We looked that this and the other had been he that should have delivered Israel, but are disappointed; the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved, Jeremiah 8:20. The time is prolonged, nay, the opportunities are let slip, the summer time and harvest time, when we thought to have reaped the fruit of all our prayers and pains, and patience is past and ended, and we are as far as ever from salvation; the time that the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, was long, much longer than it was thought it would have been, when it was first lodged there; it was twenty years; so that the whole house of Israel lamented after the Lord, and began to fear it would abide forever in that obscurity, 1 Samuel 7:2.
But though it be a long day, it is but a day, but one day, and it is known to the Lord, Zechariah 14:7. It seems long while we are kept waiting, but the happy issue will enable us to reflect upon it as short, and but for a moment. It is no longer than God hath appointed, and we are sure his time is the best time; and his favours are worth waiting for. The time is long, but is nothing to the days of eternity, when those that had long patience shall be recompensed for it with an everlasting salvation.
b. Though it be a dark day, yet let us wait upon God all the day. Though while we are kept waiting for what God will do, we are kept in the dark concerning what he is doing, and what is best for us to do, yet let us be content to wait in the dark. Though we see not our signs, though there is none to tell us how long, yet let us resolve to wait, how long soever it be; for though what God doth, we know not now, yet we shall know hereafter, when the mystery of God shall be finished.
Never was man more at a plunge concerning God’s dealings with him than poor Job was; I go forward, but he is not there; backward, but I cannot perceive him, on the left hand, on the right hand, but I cannot see him, Job 23:8-9 yet he sits down, ver. 10, resolving to wait on God all the day with a satisfaction in this, that though I know not the way that he takes, he knows the way that I take, and when he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold, approved, and improved. He sits by as a refiner, and will take care that the gold be in the furnace, no longer than is needful for the refining of it. When God’s way is in the sea, so that he cannot be traced, yet we are sure his way is in the sanctuary, so that he may be trusted, see Psalm 77:13, Psalm 77:19. And when the clouds and darkness are round about him, yet even then justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
c. Though it be a stormy day, yet we must wait upon God all the day. Though we are not only be calmed, and do not get forward, but though the wind be contrary, and drives us back, nay, though it be boisterous, and the church be tossed with tempests, and ready to sink, yet we must hope the best; yet we must wait and weather the storm by patience. It is some comfort, that Christ is in the ship, the church’s cause is Christ’s own cause, he has espoused it; and he will own it; he is embarked in the same bottom with his people, and therefore, why are ye fearful; doubt not but the ship will come safe to land; though Christ seem for the present to be asleep, the prayers of his disciples will awake him, and he will rebuke the winds and the waves; though the bush burn, if God be in it, it shall not be consumed. Yet this is not all, Christ is not only in the ship, but at the helm; whatever threatens the church, is ordered by the Lord Jesus, and shall be made to work for its good. It is excellently expressed by Mr. George Herbert –away despair, my gracious God doth hear, When winds and waves assault my keel, He doth preserve it, he doth steer, even when the boat seems most to reel. Storms are the triumph of his art, well may he close his eyes, but not his heart.
It is a seasonable word at this day; what God will do with us we cannot tell; but this we are sure, he is a God of judgment, infinitely wise and just, and therefore blessed are all they that wait for him, Isaiah 30:18. He will do his own work in his own way and time; and though we be hurried back into the wilderness, when we thought we had been upon the borders of Canaan, we suffer justly for our unbelief and murmurings, but God acts wisely, and will be found faithful to his promise; his time to judge for his people, and to repent himself concerning his servants, is, when he sees that their strength is gone. This was seen of old in the mount of the Lord, and shall be again. And therefore let us continue in a waiting frame. Hold out faith and patience, for it is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
2. It speaks a constant attendance upon him in a way of duty. And so we understand the day literally; it was David’s practice to wait upon God “all the day.” It signifies both every day, and all the day long; it is the same with that command, Proverbs 23:17. Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.
Doct. It is not enough for us to begin every day with God, but on him we must wait every day, and all the day long.
For the opening of this I must shew, (I.) What it is to wait upon God; And, (II.) That we must do this every day, and all the day long.
I. For the first, Let us inquire, what it is to wait on God. You have heard how much it is our duty in the morning to speak to him, in solemn prayer. But have we then done with him for all day? No, we must still be waiting on him; as one to whom we stand very nearly related, and very strongly obliged. To wait on God is to live a life of desire towards him, delight in him, dependence on him, and devotedness to him.
A. It is to live a life of desire towards God; to wait on him, as the beggar waits on his benefactor, with earnest desire to receive supplies from him; as the sick and sore in Bethesda’s pool, waited for the stirring of the water, and attended in the porches with desire to be helped in and healed. When the prophet had said, Lord, in the way of thy judgments we have waited for thee, he explained himself thus in the next words, the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee; and with my soul have I desired thee, Isaiah 26:8-9 Our desire must be not only towards the good things that God gives, but towards God himself, his favour and love, the manifestation of his name to us, and the influences of his grace upon us. Then we wait on God, when our souls pant after him, and his favour, when we thirst for God, for the living God: O that I may behold the beauty of the Lord! O that I may taste his goodness! O that I may bear his image, and be entirely conformed to his will! For there is none in heaven or earth, that I can desire in comparison of him. O that I may know him more, and love him better, and be brought nearer to him, and made fitter for him. Thus upon the wings of holy desire should our souls be still soaring upwards towards God, still pressing forwards, forwards towards heaven.
We must not only pray solemnly in the morning, but that desire which is the life and soul of prayer, like the fire upon the altar, must be kept continually burning, ready for the sacrifices that are to be offered upon it. The bent and bias of the soul in all its motions must be towards God, the serving of him in all we do, and the enjoying of him in all we have. And this is principally intended in the commands given to us to pray always, to pray without ceasing, to continue in prayer. Even when we are not making actual addresses to God, yet we must have habitual inclinations towards him; as a man in health, though he is not always eating, yet has always a disposition in him towards the nourishments and delights of the body. Thus must we be always waiting on God, as our chief good, and moving towards him.
B. It is to live a life of delight in God, as the lover waits on his beloved. Desire is love in motion, as a bird upon the wing; delight is love at rest, as a bird upon the nest; now though our desire must still be so towards God, as that we must be wishing for more of God, yet our delight must be so in God, as that we must never wish for more than God. Believing him to be a God all-sufficient, in him we must be entirely satisfied; let him be mine, and I have enough. Do we love to love God? It is a pleasure to us to think that there is a God, that he is such a one as he has revealed himself to be, that he is our God by creation to dispose of us as he pleaseth, our God in covenant to dispose of all for the best to us; this is waiting on our God, always looking up to him with pleasure.
Something or other the soul has that it values itself by, something or other that it reposes itself in, and what is it? God or the world? What is it that we pride ourselves in? Which we make the matter of our boasting? It is the character of worldly people, that they boast themselves in the multitude of their riches, Psalm 49:6, and of their own might, and the power of their own hands, which they think has gotten them this wealth; it is the character of godly people, that in God they boast all the day long, Psalm 44:8. That is waiting on God; having our eye always upon him with a secret complacency, as men have upon that which is their glory, and which they glory in.
What is it that we please ourselves with, which we embrace with the greatest satisfaction, in the bosom of which we lay our heads, and in having which we hug ourselves, as having all we would have: the worldly man when his barns are full of corn, saith, soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry; the godly man can never say so till he finds his heart full of God, and Christ, and grace; and then, return unto thy rest, O my soul, here repose thyself; the gracious soul dwells in God, is at home in him, and there dwells at ease, is in him perpetually pleased; and whatever he meets with in the world to make him uneasy, he finds enough in God to balance it.
C. It is to live a life of dependence on God, as the child waits on his father, whom he has a confidence in, and on whom he casts all his care. To wait on God is to expect all good to come to us from him, as the worker of all good for us, and in us, the giver of all good to us, and the protector of us from all evil. Thus David explains himself, Psalm 62:5. My soul wait thou only upon God, and continue still to do so, for my expectation is from him, I look not to any other for the good I need; for I know that every creature is that to me, and no more than he makes it to be, and from him every man’s judgment proceeds. Shall we lift up our eyes to the hills? Doth our help come from thence? Doth the dew that waters the valleys come no further, than from the tops of the hills? Shall we go higher, and lift up our eyes to the heavens, to the clouds? Can they of themselves give rain? No, if God hear not the heavens, they hear not the earth; we must therefore look above the hills, above the heavens, for all our help cometh from the Lord; it was the acknowledgment of a king, and no good one neither, if the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee out of the barn-floor, or out of the wine-press?
And our expectations from God as far as they are guided by, and grounded upon the word which he hath spoken, ought to be humbly confident and with a full assurance of faith. We must know and be sure, that no word of God shall fall to the ground, that the expectation of the poor shall not perish. Worldly people say to their gold, thou art my hope; and to the fine gold, thou art my confidence, and the rich man’s wealth is his strong city; but God is the only refuge and portion of the godly man here in the land of the living; it is to him only that he saith, and he saith it with a holy boldness, thou art my hope, and my confidence. The eyes of all things wait on him, for he is good to all; but the eyes of his saints especially, for he is in a peculiar manner good to Israel, good to them. They know his name and therefore will trust, and triumph in him, as those that know they shall not be made ashamed of their hope.
D. It is to live a life of devotedness to God, as the servant waits on his master, ready to observe his will, and to do his work, and in every thing to consult his honour and interest. To wait on God, is entirely and unreservedly to refer ourselves to his wise and holy directions, and disposals, and cheerfully to acquiesce in them, and comply with them. The servant that waits on his master, chooseth not his own way, but follows his master step by step: thus must we wait on God, as those that have no will of our own, but what is wholly reserved into his; and must therefore study to accommodate ourselves to his. It is the character of the redeemed of the Lord, that they follow the Lamb wheresoever he goes, with an implicit faith and obedience. As the eyes of a servant are to the hand of his master, and the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress, so must our eyes wait on the Lord, to do what he appoints us, to take what he allots us; Father, thy will be done; Master, thy will be done.
The servant waits on his master, not only to do him service, but to do him honour; and thus must we wait on God that we may be to him for a name, and for a praise. His glory must be our ultimate end, to which we, and all we are, have, and can do, must be dedicated; we must wear his livery, attend in his courts, and follow his motions as his servant, for this end, that he may in all things be glorified. To wait on God, is to make his will our rule.
1. To make the will of his precept, the rule of our practice, and to do every duty with an eye to that. We must wait on him to receive his commands, with a resolution to comply with them, how much soever they may contradict our corrupt inclinations, or secular interests. We must wait on him, as the holy angels do, that always behold the face of their Father, as those that are at his beck, and are ready to go upon the least intimation of his will, though but by a wink of his eye, wherever he sends them. Thus must we do the will of God, as the angels do it that are in heaven, those ministers of his that do his pleasure, and are always about his throne in order to it; never out of the way.
David here prays, that God would shew him his way, and lead him, and teach him, and keep him, and forward him in the way of his duty; and so the text comes in as a plea to enforce that petition, for on thee do I wait all the day; ready to receive the law from thy mouth, and in every thing to observe thine orders. And then it intimates this, that those and those only can expect to be taught of God, who are ready and willing to do as they are taught. If any man will do his will, be stedfastly resolved in the strength of his grace to comply with it, he shall know what his will is. David prays, Lord, give me understanding, and then promiseth himself, I shall keep thy law, yea I shall observe it; as the servant that waits on his master. They that go up to the house of the Lord, with an expectation that he will teach them his ways, it must be with a humble resolution, that they will walk in his paths, Isaiah 2:3. Lord, let the pillar of cloud and fire go before me, for I am determined with full purpose of heart to follow it, and thus to wait on my God all the day.
2. To make the will of his providence, the rule of our patience, and to bear every affliction with an eye to that. We are sure, it is God that performeth all things for us, and he performeth the thing that is appointed for us; we are sure, that all is well that God doth, and shall be made to work for good to all that love him: and in order to that, we ought to acquiesce in, and accommodate ourselves, to the whole will of God. To wait on the Lord, is to say, it is the Lord, let him do with me as seemeth good to him, because nothing seemeth good to him, but what is really good; and so we shall see, when God’s work appears in a full light; it is to say, Not as I will, but as thou wilt, for should it be according to my mind? It is to bring our mind to our condition in every thing, so as to keep that calm and easy, whatever happens to make us uneasy.
And we must therefore bear the affliction, whatever it is, because it is the will of God; it is what he has allotted us, who doth all according to the counsel of his own will. This is Christian patience; I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, not because it was to no purpose to complain, but because thou didst it, and therefore I had no reason to complain. And this will reconcile us to every affliction, one as well as another, because whatever it is, it is the will of God; and in compliance with that we must not only be silent, because of the sovereignty of his will, Woe unto him that strives with his Maker; but we must be satisfied, because of the wisdom and goodness of it. Whatever the disposals of God’s providence may be concerning those that wait on him, we may be sure that as he doth them no wrong, so he means them no hurt: Nay, they may say as the Psalmist did, even then when he was plagued all the day long, and chastened every morning, however it be, yet God is good; and therefore, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him, yet will I wait on him.
I might open this duty of waiting on God by other scripture expressions which speak the same thing, and are, as this, comprehensive of a great part of that homage, which we are bound to pay to him, and that communion which it is our interest to keep up with him. Truly thus our fellowship is with the Father, and with the Son Jesus Christ.
It is to set God always before us, Psalm 16:8 To look upon him as one always near us, always at our right hand, and that has his eye upon us, wherever we are and whatever we are doing; nay, as one in whom we live, and move, and have our being, with whom we have to do, and to whom we are accountable. This is pressed upon us, as the great principle of gospel obedience; walk before me, and be thou upright; herein consists that uprightness which is our evangelical perfection, in walking at all time as before God, and studying to approve ourselves to him.
It is to have our eyes ever towards the Lord, as it follows here, Psalm 25:15 Though we cannot see him by reason of our present distance and darkness, yet we must look towards him, towards the place where his honour dwells; as those that desire the knowledge of him and his will, and direct all to his honour as the mark we aim at, labouring in this, that whether present or absent we may be accepted of him. To wait on him, is to follow him with our eye in all those things wherein he is pleased to manifest himself, and to admit the discoveries of his being and perfections.
It is to acknowledge God in all our ways, Proverbs 3:6, in all the actions of life, and in all the affairs of life, we must walk in his hand, and set ourselves in the way of his steps. In all our undertakings, we must wait upon him for direction and success, and by faith and prayer commit our way to him to undertake for us; and him we must take with us wherever we go; If thy presence go not up with us, carry us not up hence. In all our comforts we must see his hand giving them out to us, and in all our crosses we must see the same hand laying them upon us, that we may learn to receive both good and evil, and to bless the name of the Lord both when he gives and when he takes.
It is to follow the Lord fully, as Caleb did, Numbers 14:24. It is to fulfil after the Lord, so the word is; to have respect to all his commandments, and to study to stand complete in his whole will. Wherever God leads us and goes before us, we must be followers of him as dear children, must follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes, and take him for our guide whithersoever we go.
This is to wait on God, and those that do so may cheerfully wait for him, for he will without fail appear in due time to their joy, and that word of Solomon shall be made good to them; he that waits on his master shall be honoured (Proverbs 27:18), for Christ has said where I am, there shall also my servant be, (John 12:26).