5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
How much of our lives are spent waiting? Waiting for the traffic light, waiting for spring, waiting for a text or email response, waiting for answers to our questions, waiting on medical results, waiting for an answer to prayer. In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates it this way: “I pray to God — my life a prayer — and wait for what he’ll say and do. My life’s on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.”
To wait in the sense mentioned here is to live expectantly, with an awareness of how God has acted in the past and with keen anticipation of what God is about to do. Waiting is thus the opposite of despair and hopelessness. Verse 6 restates this waiting with a poignant metaphor. Waiting for the Lord is like the work of the anxious watchman on the city wall who, fearing the attack of an enemy, finds relief in the arrival of dawn. The certainty of the coming light makes clear that the waiting is not delusional or unrealistic. Such is the nature of the psalmist’s waiting for the Lord.
But when I was going through a difficult time in my life, feeling as though God was absent, I had no certainty or awareness of God’s action in my life. I prayed this Psalm each morning and waited, and waited, and waited. It was a dark time. But now, this scripture is so familiar to me, it feels like an old friend. At some point, I discovered a new translation: “I trust in you, God, my soul trusts in your word. My soul waits for you God, more than sentinels wait for the dawn.” Hope and trust in God gradually returned. I learned that life is full of waiting but God does not disappoint. God’s love and presence in our lives is deeper and more far-reaching than we can imagine and I’ve learned to wait with longing, anticipation, expectation, and yes, hope.
“I wait for you, my soul waits, for in your Love I would live; my soul awaits the Beloved as one awaits the birth of a child, or as one awaits the fulfillment of their destiny.” (Psalms for Praying)