Summary: How much time do we waste by not taking time out to wait upon the LORD?
Wait Only Upon the LORD: An Exposition of the 62nd Psalm
If there is any word that describes modern life is that it is not “wait.” We go through life rushing from place to place and from crisis to crisis. No sooner have we dealt with one problem that another springs up. Instead of acting upon difficulties, we react to them. As a result, we are constantly stressed out. It takes quiet time to process thought. This is the reason that God instituted the Sabbath. But we are even in a rush to go to church, get through the service, and return to our problems. We are only half-engaged in the refreshment of worship, and we have one ear on the sermon and the other on what we are going to do after church. This is no way to live.
King David, who wrote the 62nd Psalm was also a busy man. He faced many crises in his life. He had the same tendency to react to problems as we do. This is the default. But David still heard the voice of the LORD. He shares his experience with the LORD with us, and we would do well to listen. Let us now turn to the 62nd Psalm and learn what God would have us hear. We would do well to leave our problems aside for a moment and fix our attention on the Word of God.
When looking at the psalm, we notice that verses one and five are very similar. Parallel structure is common in Hebrew poetry, such as we find in the psalms. In verse 11, David says that He had heard God speak once followed that he had heard it a second time. Repeating something emphasizes something. This is common in English as well. It is like a mother who tells her child: “Did I not tell you to take out the garbage?” This puts emphasis upon waiting upon God.
When we look at parallel structures, we not only see the similarities, we also must notice the differences as well. One of these differences is the insertion of the word “only” in the repetition. “My soul, wait thou only upon God.” The first verse tells us that David waited upon God, But this could lead to the conclusion that David might have also waited upon someone else. So if David tells us that he waited only upon God, what does that mean? Does that mean he did not listen to anyone else? We must remember that God uses means to answer prayers. It is not always a voice from heaven. Sometimes God speaks through His Word. Sometimes He speaks through the pastor, a Sunday School teacher, a good friend, or a counselor. Sometimes the answer comes with the singing of a hymn. This is not a call to shut our ears out to the means God might use, Instead, it is a call to come to God first and wait upon Him.
A second difference is that verse one says that “salvation comes from Him,” and verse 5 says “his expectation is from Him.” The words “salvation” and “expectation” are paired. Together, they say something like: “I expect Him to deliver me from this situation.” Waiting in prayer must be coupled with the faith that God hears our petition and will answer it, We might not know right away how and when God will deliver us from the situation. But we must believe that He will do so. In the meanwhile, we must wait.
Verses 2 and 6 are also parallel. Here the metaphor is that of a rock. We think of rocks as solid and immovable. It is not a stone, but a large and stable rock formation. Here in both verses, the word “only” is inserted. God is the only one who provides a sure foundation. He is David’s (and our) sure defense. The difference is that in verse 2 the word “greatly” is addend to moved. This gives the idea that perhaps the problems moved David a little bit. But by verse 6, David is saying: “I will not be moved at all.” Here we see the fruit of waiting on God. When we take the time to process the situations in life we face in the light of the Lord, our boldness grows.
We don’t know the exact problem David was dealing with when he wrote this psalm. It seems to have been some act of betrayal. We know from the life of David that he had a trusted counselor Ahithophel who betrayed him when Absalom usurped David’s throne (2 Samuel 15). Psalm 41:9 might also speak of this betrayal, although it also is a prophecy of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Whatever the issue might have been, David addresses these plotters directly. Unlike the solid foundation that God provides, David tells them that they are a tottering fence or a bowed wall. Walls and fences are supposed to provide protection. But a poorly constructed wall or fence is no defense at all. David calls them liars whose only purpose is to try to cast down God from His throne. These people flatter with the tongue but curse on the inside. Having considered this, David repeats his confidence in God as His sure and only defense.