by Dr. Becky Luman
In my prison Bible study, I am finishing a ten-week series on Psalms called “Heart Songs.” Every mood of the God-seeker can be found in the 150 song-poems in this, the Bible’s largest book.
- Depressed? There are psalms about that.
- Exuberant about God’s deliverance? There are psalms about that.
- Desperate? Thankful? Anxious? Relieved? Vengeful? Victorious? There are psalms that express all these conditions and emotions.
One of the underlying assumptions of this ancient collection of worship songs is that believers are invited to approach God honestly in any mood and find that He listens and helps.
One of my prison “Heart Song” lessons was “waiting for God to intervene.” My prison ladies are all “doing time” and waiting is such a big part of their lives in this hard situation—waiting for hearings, parole, family visitation, or money from relatives. Here’s a portion of Psalm 62 and some lessons on waiting for the Lord:
Psalm 62 (A psalm of David)
I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.
Common people are as worthless as a puff of wind, and the powerful are not what they appear to be. If you weigh them on the scales, together they are lighter than a breath of air.
Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.
God has spoken plainly, and I have heard it many times: Power, O God, belongs to you; unfailing love, O Lord, is yours.Surely you repay all people according to what they have done.
I used the biblical accounts of two important women Hannah (I Samuel 1 and 2) and Elizabeth (Luke 1 and 2) who waited for God to act. Women in Bible times had one primary function according to their culture: to marry and bear children. Hannah and Elizabeth had failed in their primary reason to exist and both were heart-broken. Both were considered “barren,” which means empty and bereft; and Elizabeth was past child-bearing age. We know the end of their stories. Hannah was enabled to conceive specifically in answer to her own prayer. Elizabeth heard (through her doubting husband) an angel’s assurance of a coming child. But they both experienced a season of waiting.
This song poem makes it clear that waiting for God is a common experience in the believer’s life. David was experiencing severe anxiety and needed God to intervene. He was waiting for the Lord.
- The poem affirms that God ALONE can resolve our dilemma. Many times, other people can’t really help (they are “lighter than a puff of air,” v. 9). Wealth won’t insulate us from our problems (v. 10). Self-effort is often futile (especially if we use dishonest means, v. 10).
- We are invited to honestly approach God and ask for his help. “Pour out your heart to him.” (v. 8)
- God’s help is dependable and solid. David uses metaphors of “rock,” “fortress” and “refuge” to speak of the safety and shelter of God’s presence. God will certainly rescue him and provide the “salvation,” “victory,” and “honor” needed.
- God is worthy of our trust. “Trust in him at all times,” advises the Shepherd King, who certainly had tested God’s ability and reliability in hard circumstances. God is described as exhibiting “power” and “unfailing love.”
- Therefore, a wise response to desperate circumstances is to “wait quietly for the Lord.” (vv. 1 and 5) David knows that in the shelter of The Mighty Fortress, he “will not be shaken.” He counsels “hope” in all circumstances.
Reflecting on the biblical accounts of Hannah, mother of Samuel and Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptizer, we can see that God’s timing was perfect in their lives. Samuel was born at just the right time to anoint and advise the first two kings of Israel. He was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets who counseled and warned the royal leaders. John the Baptizer was born at just the right time to prepare the hearts of the Jewish people for Messiah Jesus and to inaugurate His unique ministry by baptism.
God has his appointed seasons in our lives to withhold and to give, to stretch us by waiting and to delight us with his deliverance. “Wait quietly for the Lord.”
Photo Credit: Kyle Broad