Psalm 70: Why Wait?

Read Psalm 70.

Most of us hate to wait. We despise traffic, Internet buffering, and YouTube ads. We’d prefer to have same-day delivery, on-demand movies, and FastPass at Disney parks. As James Taylor put it, “Time may be money, but your money won’t buy time,” so let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!

Even with our natural aversion to waiting—and perhaps because of it—it nearly always seems that when we go to God with our troubles, there’s a mandatory waiting period. God doesn’t usually answer our prayers immediately, dropping whatever we need from the sky above. David opens Psalm 70 with a plea: “Hasten, O God, to save me” (v. 1), and later adds, “Come quickly to me, O God…. LORD, do not delay” (v. 5). In other words, “Hurry up, God!”

It’s somewhat ironic that Psalm 70 is a near word-for-word refrain of Psalm 40:13–19. Reading through the book of Psalms, it creates the impression that David asked God to intervene in Psalm 40 and is still waiting here in Psalm 70. However, that’s just the way it seems.

Bible scholars believe that the book of Psalms, as we have it today, is composed of several ancient psalm collections. When they were all put together, scribes saw they had two versions of the same poetry, one connected to the praises of Psalm 40 and another that stands on its own as a solitary lament. It’s a little like inheriting someone else’s record collection and discovering you now have two copies of Paul Simon’s Graceland, one that’s part of a box set career retrospective and another that’s a standard solo release.

Seasons of waiting can be among the most difficult. Full disclosure: I’m in a season of waiting myself right now—aren’t we all?—and what I’ve come to learn is that the waiting is part of being discipled by God. His timetable is not ours. His calendar looks a lot different than the one we would design for our own lives. Waiting in faith, then, is a means of worship. It’s yielding to His will, not ours. It’s saying, “I may not understand, but I trust that You know best, so I’ll wait.”

We struggle when we take God’s apparent silence as absence or indifference. In reality, it’s an invitation to wait with Him, to continue pouring out our heart to Him, and to grow in our faith. As it turns out, His schedule is always the right one. Just take a look at what Abram and Sarai did when they were tired of waiting (Genesis 16:1–16; 21:8–21), or what Moses did when he took matters into his own hands (Exodus 2:11–15). So, I don’t think Tom Petty was quite right. The waiting isn’t the hardest part. It can be difficult—no question about it—but the hardest part is when we stop waiting with God and strike out on our own. That’s when the trouble really begins.

So, if you need me, I’ll be here. Waiting.


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