Summary: Waiting on the Lord entails patient faith and is rewarded by His strength.
"They That Wait"
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Chapter 40 is the beginning of a new section in the book of Isaiah. It is the first chapter which looks beyond the captivity of Israel and on to the brightness of the future God has in store.
(Isaiah is a ‘miniature Bible.’ 66 chapters. 2 divisions - 39 old, 27 new. The first section deals with sin and judgement. The second portion presents forgiveness and restoration...)
This is one of the better known texts in the book of Isaiah. It is well-known because it is well-loved. It is loved because it strikes a familiar cord with so many weary pilgrims who travel this appointed way. At times all of us have been weary. Our experiences can be exhausting. Over the duration of time we can become discouraged. Just remember, this is one of the tricks of the enemy: if discouragement goes unchecked it can lead to defeat. So, for centuries, battle-tired soldiers and travel-weary pilgrims have been drawn to this passage written 700 years before Jesus came to earth and have received comfort. That’s why these verses are so well-known and loved.
(Informal survey. If you have this psg marked in your Bible raise your hand.)
Like so many great Bible texts, this one addresses a problem by offering a promise.
What does it mean to "wait"? The waiting spoken of here requires faith, trust, patience, hope. I have heard some assert that the word for wait here is like a waiter or waitress who waits on tables. But that’s not true. It is not serving at His table that renews our strength, but holding onto the assurance that He will come through for us. The word "wait"in this instance has to do with faith, not service. It bears the concepts of trust, hope and longing. It is to wait with expectant hope.
This hope is brought to those who wait in patience. This hope is represented by patient waiting. This is not a passive, do-nothing wait. "What are you doing?" "I dunno, waiting." The song defined it well, "More power to ya,
When you’re standing on His Word,
When you’re trusting with your whole heart
in the message you have heard..." (More Power to Ya, Petra)
These people wait for the Lord to fulfill His promise. To wait on the Lord is to fully believe in His promises of deliverance. Those who wait on the Lord trust in His power to perform all He has said. They long for, and look forward to, the hope the completion of His covenant. To wait on the Lord is to believe His Word; stand on His promises; desire His will; to hope in His faithfulness. It is to expect good things from the Lord’s hand.
To wait on the Lord means to trust Him. It is to actively engage your faith. It is to meet God mid-way expecting Him to renew your strength.
What does it mean to "renew"? At the risk of stating the obvious here, let me back up a moment and assert that for there to be a renewal there must first be a need for renewal. The suggestion that these waiters will be renewed implies need, taxation, drain. It suggests those who will most delight in this promise are those who have exhausted themselves in some enterprise.
Don’t we put gas in our tanks only after we have used some? You replenish the milk in your refrigerator when you realize your supply is getting low? That’s how it is with spiritual strength. Those who have exhausted their strength will have it renewed. Those who have not exerted any effort have no need refreshment. How often do you walk into work and have the boss say, "Pull up a chair, you need to rest a while."? No, we get a break after we have worked for a few hours.
Isaiah says the strength, stamina and agility normally associated with youth proves insufficient. Even young men, athletes and soldiers, grow weary and become fatigued. There is a limit to all human endurance. Exhaustion causes them to stumble. In weariness they fall. The strongest can go so far and no further.
The result we are left with is that, "Even though this may happen (youths may weary and fall), it is different for those who wait on the LORD." (K&D, p. 156) The Lord is not promising an extension of our own natural strength. This strength is supernaturally supplied. "What may happen to strong young men does not happen to those who wait upon the Lord." (EJY, p. 68) Rather, they ... will renew their strength. Our batteries are recharged. Our tanks are refueled. Depleted energy is restored. Our power returns as with the regrowth of Samson’s hair.