Waiting for Yahweh
(7) Hear, Yahweh, when I call with my voice. Show me favor and answer me. (8) You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Yahweh, I seek.” (9) Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger. You have been my help. Do not leave me nor forsake me, God of my salvation. (10) When my father and mother forsake me, Yahweh will gather me in. (11) Teach me your way, Yahweh, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. (12) Do not hand me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, breathing out violence. (13) (I would have despaired) unless I believed that I would see the goodness of Yahweh in the land of the living. (14) Wait for Yahweh. Be strong. Let your heart take courage. Wait for Yahweh.
The contrast between the first and second segments of this psalm is striking. In the first six verses, David exudes the kind of confidence in Yahweh that seems to banish all fears. Yet, in this second segment, he voices the anxieties that still haunt him with a series of requests: “Hear and answer” (vs. 7), “do not hide your face” (vss. 8 & 9), “teach me…lead me” (vss. 10 & 11), and “do not hand me over” (vs. 12). After six joyous verses of worshiping with David on the mountaintop in God’s sanctuary, we now return with him to the valley to face the problems of everyday living.
How good it is that David shows us how to handle our anxieties by means of earnest prayer that honors God! First, David appeals to Yahweh to hear and answer (vs. 7). Next, he reminds Yahweh that by seeking his face he is doing exactly what Yahweh had encouraged him to do (vs. 8). He then pleads with Yahweh not to turn away from him nor to leave him (vs. 9) and expresses confidence that Yahweh will never forsake him (vs. 10). Finally, David identifies the source of his anxieties, using three synonyms, “enemies...adversaries...false witnesses” (vss. 11 & 12).
In closing the psalm, David manifests the same kind of confidence he had earlier expressed in the opening verses by reminding himself that Yahweh will indeed answer his prayer (vss. 13 & 14). What he needs to do is to “wait,” that is, to hold on patiently to Yahweh’s promises until God comes through at just the right moment.
What moves us from fearful despair to courageous hope:
- seeking Yahweh in earnest prayer (7-12)
- resolving to wait on Yahweh (13 & 14)
Seeking Yahweh in prayer and determining to wait until he answers will transform our fearful anxieties into courageous hope.
“Hi, how are you?” is a greeting we hear all the time. Normally we answer with a perfunctory, “I’m fine,” and let it go at that. Going into detail about how we are actually feeling at the moment is not what those asking the question really expect from us. What is truly going on in our lives at any given moment is not something we easily share with others, even with close friends and family members. Sometimes we hardly know why we feel the way we do. At one moment our days can seem bright and sunny and we feel optimistic. At other times the sky turns dark and stormy and we feel a deep sense of gloom. Often our lives seem like a cloudy winter’s day, dull and listless and chilling. Through the various mood swings of our lives, how should we express ourselves to God?
David provides us with two contrasting examples in Psalm 27. When the sun was shining and all seemed right with his world, David’s heart overflowed with praise and delight (vss. 1-6). When the sky clouded over and he was faced with harsh opposition and conflicted with doubts, he cried out to Yahweh with a desperate sense of need (vss. 7-14). In both circumstances, David turned to Yahweh in prayer. His constant communion with God provided stability for his life, no matter what the situation might have been or how he was feeling.
James provides a helpful summary of Psalm 27 in reverse order: “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise” (Jas. 5:12). In whatever circumstances we find ourselves, feeling happy or sad, we should look to Yahweh as David did. When we do this, we will sense God’s steadfast love and unflagging grace undergirding our lives no matter what we face or how we feel.