Wait on God
Focus Passage: Psalm 25:3
‘Yea, none that wait for thee shall be put to shame.’
David begins this particularly beautiful psalm with a cry unto God:
Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul. O my God, in thee have I trusted, Let me not be put to shame; Let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, none that wait for thee shall be put to shame: They shall be put to shame that deal treacherously without cause.
‘Patience is a virtue’ is virtually an antique proverb and, while it is not a direct quote from Scripture, it is surely derived from the Word of God. Numerous are the examples among the human authors of the Bible. Accompanying the predictions of severe persecution, Christ grants this promise to His hearers, ‘In your patience ye shall win your souls.’ Luke 21:19. Paul likewise commends this virtue when he speaks of the reward of eternal life ‘to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption.’ Romans 2:7. He even refers toward the close of that epistle of our God being a God of patience when he prays, ‘Now the God of patience and of comfort grant you to be of the same mind one with another,’ showing us both the importance of patience in our corporate relationships as well as the fact that patience is not in us naturally—many of us know that very well experientially—but is rather a gift from God; yea, it is a grace coming from the Father. In the remainder of his epistles, Paul continues to extol the beauty and necessity of patience. The writer of Hebrews, while asserting the very need of patience, exhorts his readers to ‘run with patience the race that is set before us.’ Both James and Peter speak highly in equal terms of this grace of patience, and in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, there are several references to the beautiful employment of patience by the saints, in particular, in the letters to the seven churches; no less than four times are the saints in Asia Minor commended for their patience.
For the believer in God through Jesus Christ, patience is inseparably tied to faith. Even in our focus passage it is so expressed in the context of David’s assertion that none are disappointed, or put to shame, that wait for God. None that are trusting in Him will be ashamed; his faith cries out, ‘Lord, I lift my soul unto thee,’ and I anticipate that my trust will be satisfied by thy great faithfulness. This implicit trust is at the bottom—it is the source—of his being enabled to wait for God to show him His ways. Patience flows out of sincere faith. Therefore protracted patience—it need not be said—is the result of increased, ongoing faith in the veracity; the trustworthiness and faithfulness of God to His Word. He has said it, and He will perform it, therefore my soul waits for Him, and I will not be put to shame in having waited.
This is, nonetheless, one of those things about which it is profoundly true that it is a lot easier said than done. We can speak of patience and the necessity and goodness of it, yet we find ourselves often failing in the performance of it when our own circumstances call for that virtue of patience. In our flesh we, along with every son of Adam or, as they say, by nature are inherently impatient. One has well said that ‘Patience is not a virtue. It is an achievement.’ I believe that to be perfectly true provided we understand that, for the believer, it is an integral part of our sanctification, which is Christ in us, the hope of glory; He has been made unto us sanctification, as well as wisdom from God, righteousness and redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30. Christ has prayed for us that we be sanctified in the truth; God’s Word is truth, and we shall be sanctified; we are being sanctified as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Redemption is a work in progress; sanctification is a huge part of that work, and patience being wrought in us is a very important aspect of sanctifying grace. James [1:4] expresses it very well when the brother of our Lord says, ‘Let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.’
In the world in which we must all exist, however, is it ever to be found where patience exhausted was patience stretched too far? Is there ever going to be a case where we could possibly be too patient? Does it not happen sometimes in the matter of raising children, for example, where parents may be exercising patience when they ought to be exercising discipline? Is it not possible for one to be exercising patience in their exercising discipline? The two are not necessarily at opposite poles; they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The suggestion is made by one writer in these, perhaps startling, words, ‘Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it is cowardice.’ Indeed, can patience be taken too far?
We are to be imitators of God. When Moses pleaded with God to show him His glory, Jehovah declared His Name unto His servant in the following manner and in words now famous among the saints:
And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.—Exodus 34:6-7
Patience is one of God’s perfections; one of His glorious attributes. It is most often referred to by the writers of Scripture as ‘longsuffering.’ God can and does grant us patience, but as we do not meet the infinitude of any of God’s perfections, so while we imitate His patience, we do not possess it perfectly. It is a holy patience, and as we are called to be holy, so are we called to be patient with others.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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