And Now, Lord, What Wait I For?
Dr. Joe Temple


For the question that we consider today, “What Wait I For?”, turn, please, to Psalm 39, and notice verse 7:

Psalm 39:

7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

We will center our thinking on the question, “And now, Lord, what wait I for?” That might seem like a strange question which demands an answer because we are taught in the Word of God in many places that we must learn to wait. A verse of Scripture with which all of you are familiar for many different reasons is Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 31:

Isaiah 40:

31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

We don't need to wonder why we wait when we wait in that fashion. Waiting has a purpose.

Have Patience that you Might Receive the Promise

Another portion perhaps less familiar, but pertinent to the day in which we live is Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 35:

Hebrews 10:

35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

Pertinent for the day, isn't it? You recognize the promise, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry,” as being taken from the book of Habakkuk. The Spirit of God in this instance is applying it to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice verse 35 again:

Hebrews 10:

35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

Many of us get tired. We get tired waiting and we cast away. We give it all away, forgetting that there is a great recompence of reward. Don't cast it away for you have need of patience that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.

How many of us have said to ourselves any number of times, “I have done all I know how to do. I have been faithful. I haven't violated God's will that I am aware of. I followed God's instructions and now nothing is happening.”?

Have patience, Beloved. patience that after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise. Then, as I suggested in verse 37, particularly pertinent to the hour:

Hebrews 10:

37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

There was this dear man and his friends out in California who had predicted the coming of the Lord. Folk poked fun at him. They were irritated with him because he had set the day for the coming of the Lord. He said that the Lord was going to be here on a particular day and, of course, the Lord wasn't. Folk said that he did a great deal of damage, and I suspect that he did, and I am sorry that he did it. Yet, I can understand his spirit. He is tired of waiting for the coming of the Lord. He believes it. The dear man was right in most of his facts about the coming of the Lord. What he was wrong on was setting the day. He was weary in the waiting and he wanted something to happen.

God wants us to wait and God wants us to wait until His appointed time. We must always keep that in mind. So if that is true, why did the Psalmist say, “What wait I for?”?

A Different Kind of Waiting

I think we will be able to understand it if we recognize that the kind of waiting that the Psalmist was referring to was different from the kind of waiting I have been talking about up to this moment. As a matter of fact, the word wait in Psalm 39, verse 7, is a translation of the Hebrew word qavah , which means “to look with futility, to look with hopelessness, to expect something that really doesn't happen, to look for a long time and instead of getting what you looked for, to get something else.”

Turn with me in your Bible to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 13. Jeremiah was in a situation like this with his people when he realized that everything they had hoped for was not happening and what they were longing for was not transpiring. In verse 16, he says:

Jeremiah 13:

16 Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.

We are interested in the last statement: “…while ye look for light, he turn it into darkness.” Notice the word look . It is a translation of this Hebrew word qavah. Jeremiah is saying, “God is dealing with us. We are out of fellowship with Him and it is time for us to turn back to God. Let's do it before things get worse. While we look for light, God turns it into the shadow of death, and we look for light and God turns it into gross darkness.”

Let's pause in our thinking for a moment and let me ask if you have had e ixperiences similar to that? Have you looked for light and instead of the light, there came the shadow of death? Have you looked for light, and instead of the light has come the darkness? Perhaps many times because of your faith in God, because of your being well grounded in the Word of God, because God has been so good to answer all of your prayers, you have made the statement, “I know God is going to do this. I know everything is going to be all right. I know, I know,” and the days go by and it isn't that way. Instead of the light, there is the darkness. You find yourself saying, “What is the use? What am I waiting for?”

Turn, please, to the book of Job for another illustration, because in chapter 30 of the book that bears his name, Job gives an illustration concerning this very thing. Look at verse 26:

Job 30:

26 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.

The word look and the word wait are translations of the word that we are thinking about in Psalm 39, verse 7. “When I looked for good, then came evil.” Have you had that happen to you? You were expecting something good and wonderful to happen, but instead of something good and wonderful happening, something bad happened; and Satan, who is always about, slips up ready to make a suggestion to you, and you find yourself saying, “What wait I for?”

That question, “What wait I for?”, could be expressed in a number of ways. What is common to most of us would be, “What's the use? What do you expect? God really doesn't do what He says He is going to do. Why keep on hoping? Why not just give up? Why not just say, ‘There is no point in it after all.'? What wait I for?”

If you will go back with me to Psalm 39, you will recognize two reasons the Psalmist was asking himself that question. Why was the Psalmist saying, “What is the point in continuing to look with futility? What is the point in continuing to look when light turns to darkness?”

The Brevity of Life

Glance at verse 4-5. He was asking the question because he discovered that life was too brief. He said in verse 4:

Psalm 39:

4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.
5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

“Lord, life is too brief. I can't really get done what I want to see done, and life up to this point has been a disappointment.” He re-emphasizes that fact in verse 6, giving a reason for himself asking the question about life in itself being empty and disappointing. Notice what he says:

Psalm 39:

6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

“Lord, in view of all of this, what wait I for? Why do I keep on looking with futility? Why do I keep on looking, hoping when nothing ever really happens? Why?”

Perhaps it would be wise for us to try to discover what we are doing or what we are not doing that causes us to be in the position where we say, in the spirit I have been suggesting, “What wait I for?”

I would like to make some suggestions that might help us to understand and I would like to begin by saying that too often many of us, being self-sufficient people, when we have a problem, when we have a suggestion, when we have a question, are prone to look within ourselves. How many times have some of us said, “I am really a very private person. I don't like to tell other people about my needs and I just don't like to have my business discussed by everybody.”?

Quite understandable, but because that is true, we have a tendency to look within ourselves. How often have we said, at some time or another, “There will be a way. Somehow, someway, I will work it out. I will find the answer to the question.” I , I , I .

Man's Steps Directed of the Lord

Turn, please, to Jeremiah, chapter 10, and notice what Jeremiah was saying to his people when they were full of themselves, forgetting God. Notice verses 23-24:

Jeremiah 10:

23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
24 O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Living in an atmosphere of idolatry and forgetfulness of God, every man having the solution and the answer, feeling sure that he knew what to do, Jeremiah said: “Lord, You have taught me something. It is not right for a man to think that he has the answer always, for the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Man's steps are ordained of the Lord. How can a man then understand his own way enough to direct it, and Solomon, who certainly had much to say about many ordinary affairs of life, echoes the same thought in Proverbs, chapter 20, verse 24. He said:

Proverbs 20:

24 Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?

Practically the same thing. Man's steps are directed, are assigned by the Lord. How can a man understand his own way, and what is all of this that I am saying to you? Just this: If you think you have the solution to your problem, why are you so foolish when God so plainly declared in His Word that you are not capable of solving your problem? You are not capable of finding the answer to the question. You are not capable of finding the way out.

That is why you wait futilely and that is why so often the light that you look for is darkness and the light that you expect becomes the shadow of death. You look for the solution within yourself. Some of us, however, have found that we don't have the solution in ourselves. We find ourselves turning to others. In a sense, that is a good thing, for the Word of God says, “In the multitude of counselors, there is safety.” But so often we find ourselves turning to others with the idea that they have the answer. Particularly is this true when we have confidence in some believer and we feel that he has grown in the things of the Lord perhaps more than we have. We say to ourselves, “He will have the answer. Let's go ask him what to do.”

I repeat, it is good to recognize the need of God-given wisdom that can come through the counsel of others, but the reason we still ask the question, “What am I waiting for?”, is the reason we look for light and find darkness instead. We fail to remember what Isaiah declared in chapter 2 of the prophecy. Isaiah was speaking of the golden age that is to come—the Millennium, for which all of our hearts long—and he said when that time has actually come, men will come to the realization that they should have come to in this present hour. He expresses it in verse 22:

Isaiah 2:

22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of ?

Let those words sink in as we read them again:

Isaiah 2:

22 Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of ?

“Who is man that you would put your faith and your trust? If you continue so to do, you will continue to look with futility for solutions to your problems and you will continue to find yourself saying, “What is the use? What am I waiting for? I might as well give up. Nothing is really going to happen anyway.”

In Psalm 146, there are even more definite instructions:

Psalm 146:

3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

There the whole gamut of society is run from princes who are at the very top, down to the son of man, the ordinary individual. Why put your trust in men? There is no help in men; and as long as you and I, in seeking for the solution to our problems, look to men to help us, we are going to find ourselves still asking the eternal question: “What am I waiting for? What is the use? Why really expect anything to happen?”

We Get Our Eyes On Circumstances

The third suggestion that I want to make to you that suggests the reason we sit back and say, “What wait I for?”, in the sense of the message that we have been bringing you, is we get our eyes on circumstances. Perhaps you have heard it said, “I don't believe there is anything that can come along that I can't handle. It may be rough. It may take me a while, but I can handle it. I will find an answer to the circumstance.” We keep our eyes on the circumstances, and many of us have discovered that we have no answer for the circumstance.

When we look at the circumstances themselves, we are prone to feel even more helpless and hopeless than we ever have. Do you call to mind the story that is recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 6? A great multitude of people had gathered together and they needed to be fed. The Lord Jesus Christ could have fed them without any problem at all. He is God, but He wanted to enlist those who were with Him in the project that they might learn and, according to what is recorded, we might learn that we are no match for the circumstances. Notice John, chapter 6, verse 5:

John 6:

5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?
6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.

Let me stop just long enough to emphasize the truth of that statement. So many, many times He puts us in the place where we say, “What wait I for?” So many times He puts us in the place where there is an unanswerable question and an unsolvable problem, but all the time He knows what He is going to do. He is doing it that we might be enlisted in Him. He is doing it to test us. Notice verse 7:

John 6:

7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.

The story has been presented in a variety of ways as the Word of God has been taught, and we are not going to go into all of those, but let me suggest to you, in the light of the message that we are bringing at the moment, that Philip, when he was faced with the question, thought of the biggest amount of money that he could lay his hands on. He said, “Even if I get that, it won't feed them. It will only be enough for everybody to have just a very little.”

Have you thought over your circumstances that way? You had no way to meet them and you sat down and you evaluated everything that you had and you said to yourself, “Well, I believe I could get this much,” or, “I believe I could do this much.” Don't limit your thinking just to money for the moment. “I believe I am capable of doing up to this point,” and you have a little sigh of relief and then you are overwhelmed with the fact that even that will just make a bare dent in the need.

Satan slips up alongside of you and says, “What are you waiting for? What is the use? Why do you expect something to happen when you know that nothing is going to happen?” You have thought of the best thing you can do, and it will barely make a dent in the need. Continue reading with verse 8:

John 6:

8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,
9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes…

Oh, how I wish he had stopped there, but he didn't, you see. He was evaluating circumstances to find the answer to the question, “What wait I for?”, and he added, “What are they among so many? What are they among so many?” Do you see my point? How often have we faced the circumstance that overwhelms us and we come up with some solution and then we think, “What's the use? What wait I for?”

Take No Thought for Tomorrow

One other thought along this line that I would leave with you is brought to our attention from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6. You recognize this as a portion of the Sermon on the Mount—what the Lord Jesus Christ had to say concerning needs. The Lord Jesus said, in verse 34:

Matthew 6:

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

He had been discussing very practical things. He had been discussing very practical things that deal with food and shelter and a place to lay your head, etc., and He said, “There is no point in being concerned about all these things because you can't do anything about it.” He really got to the core of the way that we all think in verse 34, and it has been paraphrased, “So, do not worry about tomorrow. It will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the trouble each day brings.”

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? How often when we have been faced with the circumstance and with the problem, we say, “Well, I may be able to handle this right here, but you know something else is going to happen. I may be able to handle what is happening today, but I don't know what is going to happen tomorrow.”

What is the advice of the Savior? “Do not worry about tomorrow. It will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the trouble which each day brings.”

Our Hope is in God

I have suggested to you the reasons men wait futilely so often, the reasons that so many of us, and I suspect that at some time all of us have looked for light and have seen darkness instead, have looked for light and have seen futility and death instead. I think all of us have said to ourselves, “What is the use? Why keep on waiting?”

This is the question that I have tried to lay before you and I said that all such questions that we are thinking about in the present series of discussions demand an answer. There has to be an answer. We cannot go through life wondering about things like this. We must have the answer. Turn back to Psalm 39 and notice the simplest answer in the latter part of verse 7. What wait I for? Why do I keep on looking futilely? Why do I keep on looking when I am continually disappointed? The simple answer is in the last part of verse 7:

Psalm 39:

7 …my hope is in thee.

That is why I keep looking. That is why I keep looking, even though I am disappointed. My hope is in God. In Psalm 62, verse 5, it is expressed a bit more clearly. Let's look at that so that you might recognize exactly what we are talking about:

Psalm 62:

5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

Here is an elaboration. Psalm 39, verse 7, “What wait I for…?” Psalm 62, verse 5: “My hope is in God.” Then Psalm 62, verse 5: “Wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.”

Let me suggest to you that when we examine each one of these things that we have been talking about, recognizing that our hope alone is from God, we will find the answer. For example, when we look to ourselves, remembering that our expectation is from God, we will come to the conclusion that Paul came to in II Corinthians, chapter 3, verse 5. Paul was speaking of his own ministry, but the truth can be applied to us in whatever situation we find ourselves. He has been speaking of his ministry and what a terrific job it was, and then he says:

II Corinthians 3:

5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves…

We don't need to be told that after we have been through what we have been talking about up to this point. There is nothing in us. “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps, but our hope is in God. Our expectancy is from Him.” When our expectancy is from Him, then we realize the last portion of the verse to be true: “…but our sufficiency is of God.”

Oh yes, the Devil slips up alongside of us and says, “There is nothing in you. You can't do anything about this. There is no way you can solve it. You are not sufficient.”

Instead of sitting by and letting the darkness come when we look for the light, we say, “True. I am not sufficient for these things, but my sufficiency is of God. God will make me sufficient.”

Do you see what I am saying to you? All too often when our problems arise, we try to handle them in our own strength, thinking we are sufficient for them and we are not. Our sufficiency is of God; but as we have suggested to you, some folk, when they find no solution to their problems in themselves, turn to others and in most instances they are disappointed because others cannot solve the problem for them. However, as they look to others, their expectancy is from the Lord, they will be able to have the experience that the Apostle Paul had and he recorded it in II Timothy, chapter 4.

On trial before Nero, he said:

II Timothy 4:

16 At my first answer [that is, at my first trial] no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known…

Do you get the message? What was it that Paul said? “When I looked to men to stand with me in this particular trial, they did not stand with me. They forsook me, but my expectation is from God, and the Lord stood with me. He was there even though all others were gone.”

Notice this beautiful thought: “…the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…” I do not know what trials all of you are going through. I know some of you are going through some trying times. I can assure, if the Lord tarries, more of you will be going through some trying times; and when you look for folk to stand with you, you will find that for a while they do, but then eventually, they forsake you and flee. But, hold on to this: “What wait I for? My expectation is from God. When I look to my friends through God and then should they forsake me, the Lord will stand with me.”

A precious promise in Psalm 27, verse 10:

Psalm 27:

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

Somehow or other, we are geared in our thinking to believe that friends may forsake us and if they do forsake us, well, they do, but surely a mother and a father would not forsake us. Surely a mother would not give up her child or surely a father would not disown his child, but it happens. Then what does the Word say? Notice:

Psalm 27:

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

“What wait I for? My hope is in God.” Then, circumstances. How disappointing it is when we look upon the circumstances and have no solution for the circumstances, but ah, when we remember that our expectation is from God, then the experience that Zerubbabel had becomes our own experience. As it is recorded in Zechariah, chapter 4, verses 6-7, we see Zerubbabel with insurmountable objects keeping him from finishing the temple that God had ordered him to build. He was told:

Zechariah 4:

6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

Are you faced with the mountain today? Whatever it is, you can't go through it, and you can't go around it, you can't climb it. It is there. What are you looking for? Have you been sitting for a long time looking and the mountain seems to grow bigger instead of getting smaller? What are you going to do—give up? No. What is the answer? What wait I for when I wait so futilely? What is the answer? My hope is in God. My expectation is from Him. The mountain will become a plain because it is not by might nor by power, but “…by my spirit sayeth the LORD.”


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