A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, August 26, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *8/7/2012
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. [Ps 27:14]
1. The Christian’s life is no child’s play. All who have gone on the pilgrimage to the celestial city have found a rough road, sloughs of despond and hills of difficulty, giants to fight and tempters to shun. Hence there are two perils to which Christians are exposed; the one is that under heavy pressure they should abandon the path which they ought to pursue, — the other is lest they should grow fearful of failure, and so become fainthearted in their holy course. Both these dangers had evidently occurred to David, and in the text he is led by the Holy Spirit to speak about them. “Do not,” he seems to say, “do not think that you are mistaken in keeping to the way of faith; do not turn aside to crooked policy, do not begin to trust in an arm of flesh, but wait upon the Lord”; and, as if this were a duty in which we are doubly apt to fail, he repeats the exhortation, and makes it more emphatic the second time, “Wait, I say, on the Lord.” Hold on with your faith in God, persevere in walking according to his will; let nothing seduce you from your integrity, — let it never be said of you, “You ran well, what hindered you that you did not obey the truth?” And lest we should be faint in our minds, which was the second danger, the psalmist says, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.” There is really nothing to be depressed about, there is no real danger, you are safe while God lives, and while Christ pleads, and while the Spirit of God dwells in you; therefore do not be dismayed, nor even dream of fear. Do not be timorous and unbelieving, but play the man; “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.” The object of our discourse this morning will be the encouragement of those who feel in any degree whatever dispirited and depressed on account of the hard places of the way, or the opposition of the world. May the Divine Spirit, whose particular office it is to be the Comforter of his people, now give the oil of joy to all who mourn, and courage to all who tremble.
2. We shall look at our text under four headings. First, God is to be waited on; secondly, courage is to be maintained; thirdly, waiting upon God will sustain courage; and, fourthly, experience has proved this, — for David sets his own seal to the text when he says, “Wait, I say, on the Lord.” As much as to say — I have tried and proved the power of communion with God, and therefore personally give my advice that you continually wait upon the Lord, and you will be greatly strengthened.
3. I. First, then, dear friends, GOD IS TO BE WAITED ON.
4. That word “wait” is so extremely comprehensive that I quite despair of bringing out every shade of its meaning. The word “walk” describes almost the entire Christian life, and so does this word “wait”; for properly understood, waiting is active as well as passive, energetic as well as patient and to wait upon the Lord necessitates as much holy courage as warring and fighting with his enemies. We are to wait on, wait upon, and wait for the Lord; for it is written, “those who wait on the Lord shall inherit the earth,” “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,” and “blessed are all those who wait for him.”
5. What do we mean, then, by “wait on the Lord?” I say, first, let us wait on the Lord as a beggar waits for alms at the rich man’s door. We are very poor and needy, labouring under such necessities that the whole world cannot supply what we require. Only in God is there a supply for the deep poverty of our souls. Many of us have gone to his door, and knocked and waited, and in so doing we have obtained very gracious answers. If others of us have not seen the door of mercy open to us, let us still wait at the doorposts of the Lord’s door, still knock, and still hope for his salvation. Are you seeking the Saviour, and are you trusting him, and have you not yet obtained the peace which comes with believing? Then with great importunity continue in prayer and wait on, remembering that the blessing is worth waiting for; it is such a treasure that if you had to wait for a lifetime to fully obtain it you would be well repaid when it came. Wait, but knock as you wait, with fervent pleading and strong confidence, for the Lord himself waits to be gracious to you. Agonize in desire, and do not let the knocker of heaven’s gate ever rest: make the door of mercy to resound again and again with your resolute blows upon it. The Lord is good to those who wait for him; he will in due time answer you; it shall never be said that anyone was sent away empty from his gate. He has not spoken in secret in a dark place of the earth, nor said to the seed of Jacob, “Seek my face in vain.” Pray on, believe on, and as surely as God’s promise is true he will in due time grant you conscious salvation, your head shall be lifted high above your enemies all around you, and you shall rejoice with unspeakable joy and full of glory. The devil tells you to cease from prayer; he tells you that the little faith you have will never save you. Do not believe him, stand firm, pray on, believe on, expect on; though the vision tarries, wait for it; it shall come, it shall not tarry. May the Lord grant you grace to wait in all humility, for what are you except a beggar, and beggars must not be choosers; it is good that a man both hopes and quietly waits for the salvation of God, for they shall not be ashamed who wait for him. To cling to the cross, to rest at the altar of our Lord’s atonement is the safest course. Believingly to wait upon the Lord, pleading the all-prevailing name of Jesus, is the supplicant’s best posture.
6. I trust many in the house of God this morning have passed from this stage to the next; they wait as learners for instruction. The disciple waits at his Master’s feet and according as the Teacher chooses to speak, so the disciple’s ears are opened. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. Some stand in the crowd and listen a little, and immediately they are gone, but the true disciple stays in the school and waits to hear what his Master will speak. We bow down at his feet with this humble resolve, that whatever he says we will hear, and whatever his doctrine, precept, or promise may be, we will drink it all in with intense delight. The pupils of the old philosophers were accustomed to walk in the groves of Academia until the wise men were ready to come and speak with them; and when any one of the wise men began to speak, the young disciples quietly followed his steps, eagerly catching every precious sentence which he might utter. Much more should it be so with us towards our Lord Jesus; let us follow him in every page of inspiration, study every line of creation, and learn from him in all the teachings of his providence. Let us catch the faintest whisper of his Spirit, and yield to each divine impulse. “Wait, I say, on the Lord.” If you are to be instructed disciples it must be by a diligent, patient, persevering waiting upon him who is the fountain of all knowledge and the sun of all light. May we never outrun our Master by conceited speculations, and vain imaginings, but may we wait until he speaks, and be content to remain in ignorance unless he chooses to withdraw the veil.
7. A third form of this waiting will come out under the illustration of waiting as a servant waits upon his Lord. A true servant is anxious to know what his master wishes him to do, and when he once knows it he is happy to undertake it and carry it through. In great houses certain servants enquire of the master in the morning, “Sir, what are your orders for the day?” Imitate this, and when you rise in the morning, always wait upon your Lord to know what his commands are for the day. Say, “Show me what you would have me to do. Teach me your way, oh Lord; lead me in a plain path. Inform me concerning what to seek and what to shun, for my will is to do your will in all things.” Notice how maid servants watch their mistresses when they are waiting at the table or serving around the house; a word is enough, and sometimes a look or a nod of the head is all the direction needed; so it should be with us, we should eagerly desire to know the mind of the Lord, and carefully watch for indications of it. As the eyes of a maiden are to the hand of her mistress so should our eyes wait upon the Lord our God. We, who are the ministers of the Lord Jesus, ought to be looking all around to see what we can do in God’s house. Good servants do not need to be told about every little thing, they have their master’s interest at heart and they themselves perceive what should be done, and they do it. Oh, to be always waiting to do even more and more for Jesus. I would go up and down my Master’s house, seeing what I can do for his little children, whom I delight to cherish; what part of the house needs sweeping and cleaning, so that I may quietly go about it; what part of the table needs to be furnished with food, so that I may bring out as his steward things new and old; what there is to be done for my Master for those who are outside the family, and what is to be done for those already in his family. You will never be short of work if you wait upon the Lord with your whole heart. We waste our time if we stand idly gazing up into heaven expecting his coming, and making it a pretence for doing little or nothing to win souls; our wisest course is, as men who expect their Lord, to stand with our loins girded, and our lamps trimmed. You know what the Orientals meant by having their loins girded; they gathered up their loose flowing garments when they meant to work, even as a hardworking man among us takes off his coat and works in his shirtsleeves. Stand like workmen with your sleeves rolled up — that is the English of it, ready for any work which your Master may appoint. You put on the livery of the Lord Jesus years ago when you were baptized into his name; take care to keep it spotless, for it is known to be connected with a sinless prince. Never by disobedience make the livery to be a lie, for if you are not his servants why should you wear the garb of his household? Beloved, “he who waits upon his master shall be honoured.” Do not let us fail in waiting upon ours.
8. Sometimes the servant will have to wait in absolute inaction, and this is not always agreeable to energetic minds. I suppose that walking around Jericho for six days and doing nothing must have been very distasteful for the men of war who wanted to be coming to blows. They might have said, “Why should we and all the multitude march around the walls and do nothing?” The men of war chafed in their harness, and longed to be at the foe. It is said that Wellington kept back the Guards at Waterloo until far into the battle, and it must, I should think, have needed much courage on their part to remain calm and quiet while cannons were roaring, and the battle raging, and the shots flying around them. They must not stir until the commander-in-chief gives the order, “Up, Guards, and at them!” then they will clear the field and utterly annihilate the foe. They were as much serving their country by lying still until the time came as they were by dashing forward when at last the word was given. Wait then upon your Lord in all kinds of service and patience, for this is what he would have you to do.
9. Another form of this waiting may be compared to a traveller waiting for the directions of his guide, or a mariner waiting upon the pilot who takes charge of his ship. We are to wait upon God for direction in the entire voyage of life; he is at the helm, and his hand is to steer our course. I am fearful that some Christians very greatly fail in waiting upon the Lord for guidance, yet the types and examples of the Old Testament very strongly enforce this duty. I will give you one type and one example. The type shall be Israel in the wilderness. There was a straight way to Canaan, and I suppose it would not take many days to go from Goshen to Jerusalem. They must not, however, take that way, but follow their leader. When they had wandered even for a year in the wilderness, they might soon have reached the land, for in fact they were near its borders; but no, they must go where the famous pillar, which indicated the presence of God, should conduct them. If it remained stationary for a year the tents must not move; if it was up early in the morning, again, and again, and again for a whole succession of weary marching days, Israel must not dare to rest. They must remain under the shadow of the pillar of cloud by day, and its light must be their glory by night. Everywhere they were to wait for the heavenly signal, and never choose their own path. Do you watch the cloud, my brethren? Do you wait upon the Lord for guidance? Do you continually say, “Please show me your way?” Do you commit your own way to the Lord? If not, how little you have learned the true position and privilege of the people of God. I take the example from David’s own life. If you have noticed the fourteenth chapter of the first book of Chronicles, you will read that David, being threatened by the Philistines, enquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against them?” and he had for an answer, “Go up, for I will deliver them into your hands.” Encouraged by the oracle he went out to the attack, and carried all before him like a raging flood. The Philistines rallied again and spread themselves abroad in the valley, and surely David might have felt quite safe in again falling upon them. What further directions could he need? Would not the former oracle avail now that the same circumstances were occurring? But no, the man of God did not feel safe until he had laid the new case before the Lord, and it is recorded “therefore David enquired again of God.” This time the response was very different; possibly to his own surprise David received orders not to go up after the Philistines, but to turn away from them, and come upon them opposite the mulberry trees. When he should hear a sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees he was to bestir himself, but not just then. He followed the new directions and again struck the host of the Philistines. Brother, wait on the Lord often. Though you were wise in the last intricate business, you may be a fool over the next simple matter; in fact, it is over the simple matters that we make our great blunders in life, even as Israel did with the Gibeonites; when they came with old and patched sandals and mouldy bread, half an eye might have sufficed to see through their trick, but Israel acted hastily, ate bread with them, made a treaty with them, and did not enquire at the hand of the Lord. Not so David, he was never slow to seek divine guidance. I admire what comes out incidentally about him in the saying of Abimelech, the priest at Nob. When Saul accused him of having enquired of the Lord for David, Abimelech replied, “Did I then begin to enquire of God for him?” as much as to say, “He is an old frequenter of the Lord’s courts, he has enquired of God many and many a time before this. To accuse me of enquiring of the Lord for him, as though I was abetting rebellion, is unjust, for I only did for David what I had often done before.” Hence it was that David behaved himself wisely in a perfect way, because he did not follow his own judgment but waited on the Lord. There was an occasion when he marched against Nabal in the heat of his wrath, when he went in his own spirit, and not under heavenly influences, and had it not been that the Lord sent a wise woman to cross his path, he would have shed blood that day and it would have been a grief of mind to him all his life. Oh that we more sincerely waited upon the Lord in the sense of seeking instruction concerning our path in life, then he would fulfil his promise to us, “Your ears shall hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ ”
10. I have not yet exhausted the word “wait”; for we ought to wait upon God as a child waits upon his parent. Our children can seldom be accused of having small expectations with reference to us. They have almost countless desires and needs, and they always expect their parents to readily supply them; I have no doubt they have been strongly confirmed in this expectation by their past experience. No little child thinks of providing for himself, nor does he dream of directing his own course in life. You cannot get that little head to be thoughtful about tomorrow’s food; you cannot force that little heart to be anxious about the next suit of clothes. To all suggested doubt the little lips reply, “My father knows what I have need of, and I am sure he will give it to me.” Such is the happy, restful life of a loving child, and this is as it should be with us. It is my Father’s business to provide for me; his name is Jehovah-Jireh. It is my Father’s business to preserve me; he has given his angels charge to keep me in all my ways. It is my Father’s business to chart the future for me; I cannot see even into tomorrow, my eyes are dim, but my Father knows all about what shall be, and he will be ready for whatever shall happen, therefore I would wait upon him, raise no questions, and expect great mercies. Blessed are those who are found waiting like this.
11. And then, perhaps, I may add one thing more, we should wait upon the Lord as a courtier waits upon his prince. He who is at court, and seeks to rise to favour, waits upon his prince with the desire to be employed in the royal service, so that he may prove his loyal zeal. He considers any kind of employment at court to be a great honour; he tells his friends, and they accept it as a subject of congratulation, that he has obtained such and such work to do for the king. He delights to increase the honour and dignity of his prince’s court, for he shares in it himself. Brethren, how carefully should you and I endeavour to demonstrate the honour of our Lord Jesus among the sons of men, for has he not made us kings and priests, and should we not exalt his glorious name for ever? We should seek to make our Lord Jesus famous to the ends of the world; our daily conversation, and our current character, our private and public behaviour should all tend to increase our Master’s honour among the sons of men. We must be ready for anything for Jesus, and everything for Jesus, counting that we ourselves are honoured by disgrace if we bring honour to him. Sir Walter Raleigh was wise in his generation when he took off his richly embroidered cloak to spread it over a miry place, so that Queen Elizabeth’s feet might not be dampened; the courtier knew how to smooth his own road by caring for his queen; and so, with unselfish motives, out of pure reverence for our Lord, let us be willing to be made as a doormat to be walked on if Jesus can be honoured by it. Let us lay out for our Lord the best that we have, even to the reputation which is dear to us as life itself, if by so doing we may bring glory to the holy and blessed name of our Redeemer. Henceforth it is ours to live for the Lord and die for the Lord. We will wait on the Lord and keep his way, and may his grace enable us daily to say, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and I hope in his word.”
12. II. Secondly, COURAGE IS TO BE MAINTAINED. “Be of good courage.”
13. Our good Lord and Master ought not to be followed by cowards. Be of good courage, you who wait on the Lord. Have the courage of hope concerning the faith which you are exercising upon Christ. Some of you are just beginning to believe in Jesus, and you are afraid that he will cast you away, or fearful that you will not obtain full salvation from sin. I have already told you to continue to knock at mercy’s door; do so, but be of good courage, for that door will certainly open to you. He who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Take heart, poor fainting one, the Lord has a tender eye towards mourning souls; he is very good to those who seek him. Though you are like poor trembling Mercy who fainted outside the door of the Interpreter’s house, yet your Lord thinks upon you, and he says, “Come in you blessed of the Lord, why do you stand outside?” He will not permit those to perish who humbly wait on him; the light of his countenance shall yet be yours. Be of good courage, oh seeker!
14. Be, also, of good courage you who have recently found him. Be bold to affirm your faith. Remember that the trust which you repose in Jesus is a justifiable one, and can be vindicated against all comers, therefore do not hide it. I hate to see a Christian act like a mouse behind a panel, who comes peeping out when everything is still to see if anyone is around, so that he may get his crumbs, but if there is half a sound of a foot anywhere away he slips and hides himself in his hole. Indeed, if you belong to Christ, affirm it. What is there to be ashamed of? To believe the truth — shall a man blush about that? To follow infinite purity and holiness incarnate in Christ Jesus, is there anything to be ashamed of in that? Indeed, rather let us show our colours before the face of all men, and lift high our banner in all companies, for it is rather a reason for boasting than for blushing that we are on the Lord’s side. It is the best thing about us, it is the greatest mercy we have ever received, why should we conceal it? Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and confess your faith before men, you who have recently been brought to Jesus.
15. Then go further. Be of good courage in endeavouring to spread the faith which you have received. When you go to speak to others about the great salvation, do not be afraid. If it is new work for you, I dare say you will tremble, but still do it, and ask the Lord to give you greater confidence in proclaiming the good news of his grace. If you speak with infidels, be of good courage, though for a while you cannot lead them to believe. If you speak to those who are incensed against the truth, be of good courage; what harm can they do to you that shall be equal to the harm you will suffer by becoming a coward? Be of good courage, and undertake great things for Christ; do not expect a defeat, but dare and risk all for him. Do something more than you are able to do, expecting strength beyond your own to be afforded to you, and it will certainly come. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart.” Be of good courage, then, in the way of practical energy for the advancement of your Redeemer’s cause.
16. Be of good courage when you pray for others. Wait on the Lord about your children, and be of good courage and expect to see them saved. Wait on the Lord about your servants, about your brothers and sisters, about your neighbours; be of good courage about them, believe that God hears prayer and that your intercessions will bless those for whom you pray. Intercession has great influence with God; it is no vain thing to wait upon the Lord for the souls of others. Thousands now in heaven owe their conversion to the prayers of the saints, and therefore plead with great courage. Never cease to pray, and when you pray, do not pray as though you spoke to a tyrant reluctant to hear, or to a forgetful God, who would fail to answer, but wait on him with quiet confidence and you shall not come away empty.
17. Be of good courage, too, in making self-sacrifices for the cause of Christ. If you lose your job because you are honest, be of good courage, you will be no loser in the long run. Are there some who despise you because you are a Christian? Be of good courage, their opinion is of very little value, and in the judgment of angels and good men you stand very high. Are you like Moses when he refused the treasures of Egypt, with all the honours of the court? Be of good courage, the Lord will give you, even in this life, a reward, and in the world to come everlasting life. If it should come to losing all you have for Jesus’ sake, be of good courage, for he who losses his life for Christ’s sake shall find it, and he who becomes poor for the cause of Christ shall be eternally rich. Be of good courage!
18. Once again, if you are called to endure great affliction, sharp pain, frequent sickness; if business goes amiss, if riches take to themselves wings and fly away, if friends forsake you and foes surround you, be of good courage, for the God upon whom you wait will not forsake you. Never let it be said that a soldier of the cross flinched in the day of battle. Bear your Father’s will, glad to have such a Father’s will to bear. If grace cannot enable us to endure all that nature can heap upon us, what is grace worth? Now is the time, my dear brother, in the floods of adversity, to see whether your faith is real faith or not. Mere sunshine faith is not worth the having; we want what will outlive the most terrible storm that ever darkened the heavens. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, though heart and flesh should fail you. Though eyes grow dim and the light of day should be quite shut out, though hearing should fail and the daughters of music be silent, though all the doors of the senses should be closed, though the bearers of the body should totter and the keepers of the house should tremble, yes, though death itself should remove this feeble body, yet there is no reason for fear, but we may exclaim with dying Jacob, “I have waited for your salvation, oh Lord.” Do not let your hearts be troubled, wait on the Lord, and courage shall revive.
19. III. Our third point is, that WAITING UPON GOD SUSTAINS COURAGE.
20. Beloved, if ever you begin to grow weary in the good ways of God, wait upon him with double earnestness. You have heard of the famous giant Antaeus whom Hercules could not kill, because the earth was his mother, and every time Hercules dashed him down he obtained fresh strength by touching his parent, and rose again to the fight. We are of a similar nature, and every time we are driven to our God, though we are dashed upon him by defeat, we grow strong again, and our adversary’s attempt is foiled. Our foe will never destroy us unless he can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, and that is impossible. Waiting upon God is the way to renew our strength until we mount up with eagle’s wings and leave the world below.
21. In the first place, our heart is strengthened by waiting upon God, because we receive a mysterious strength through the coming in of the Eternal Spirit into our souls. No man can explain this, but many of us know what it is. We do not know how the Holy Spirit operates, but we are conscious that after a time of prayer we are often much refreshed, and feel as if we had been made young again. We have gone in before the Lord haggard and worn, desponding, and (shame upon us, we must add) ready to give up, turn tail, and run away. We have not long drawn near to God before we have felt our spirit revive. Though our approach was mostly a groan, yet we waited upon the Lord, and the Eternal strength came into us. How wonderfully do the secret springs of Omnipotence break into the feeble soul and fill it with might in the inner man. Through the sacred anointing of the Holy Spirit we have been made to shout for joy, we have been so glad in the Lord that we could not contain our joy. He who made us has put his hand a second time to the work, and restored to us the joy of his salvation, filled our emptiness, removed our weakness, and triumphed in us gloriously. The poor harp which had been played so long could not at length yield music to its owner’s hand; in vain the bard’s fingers roamed over the strings, the more heavily they were struck the more discordant were the sounds. The harp was taken from the hall and laid aside in a quiet room, and there its Maker came to deal with it. He knew its frame, and understood the art of tuning it. He put new strings in here and there, and set the rest aright, and the next time the harpist laid his fingers among the strings pure music floated forth, and flooded the palace with melody. Where discord had polluted the air with evil spirits all was changed, and it seemed as though angels leaped out with silver wings from every chord. Indeed, go to your God, poor soul, when you are out of order; wait on the Lord, and he will strengthen your heart by his mysterious power.
22. Besides this, waiting upon the Lord has an effect upon the mind, which in the natural course of things tends to strengthen our courage; for waiting upon God makes men grow small, and dwarfs the world and all its affairs, until we see their real littleness. Poor David sat fretting about the ungodly, as he saw them prospering in their way, while as for himself he was plagued all day long and chastened every morning. Foolishly and ignorantly he complained about the Lord, and questioned his justice, “until,” he says, “I went into the sanctuary of God, then I understood their end.” Place your great troubles before the infinite God, and they will dwarf into such little things that you will never notice them again. He takes up the isles as a very little thing, and the nations are as a drop in a bucket; and this great God will teach you to look at earthly things in the same light as he does, until, though the whole world should be against you, you would smile at its rage, and though all the demons in hell should rise against you, you would defy their fury. Our worst ills are utterly despised when we learn to measure them by the line of the Eternal; so you see that waiting upon God strengthens the heart by lessening the reasons for fear.
23. And then it inflames the heart with love. Nothing can give us greater courage than a sincere affection for our Lord and his work. Courage is sure to abound where love is fervent. Look among the mild and gentle creatures of the brute creation and see how bold they are when once they become mothers and have to defend their offspring. A hen will fight for her chicks, though at another time she is one of the most timid of birds. Mr. White, in his book on Selborne, tells of a raven that was hatching her young in a tree. The woodman began to fell it, but there she sat; the blows of the axe shook the tree, but she never moved, and when it fell she was still upon her nest. Love will make the most timid creature strong; and, oh, beloved, if you love Christ you will defy all fear, and consider all risks undergone for him to be your joy. In this sense, also, perfect love casts out fear, it hopes all things, endures all things, and still continues to wait upon the Lord. To have more love we must more continually wait upon the Lord, and this will mightily renew the strength of our heart.
24. Again, waiting upon the Lord fosters peace within the soul, and when a man is perfectly at rest within he cares little for trials or foes. It is conscience that makes cowards of us all, but let conscience be pacified through the atoning blood of Jesus, and you can smile when others spit their venom at you, and like your blessed Master you can bear their taunts without reply, for there is a heavenly calm within. A heart unsettled towards God is sure to be afraid of men, but when the soul waits on the Lord in glad serenity it does not stoop to fear.
And, beloved, this waiting upon the Lord produces the effect of
increasing our courage, because it often gives us a sight of the
eternal reward, and if a man gets a glimpse of the crown of
glory, the crown of thorns will no more prick his temples. He who
sees what he shall be in the day when Christ shall be revealed, does
not mourn because of what he now is while he bears the reproach of
Christ. In fact, waiting upon God makes us see that we are in
fellowship with Christ and causes us to know that the load we carry
is a cross of which he always bears the heaviest end; it lets us see
that his heart is full of sensitive sympathy towards us, and so it
makes us suffer without complaining. Is it not sweet to sing —
If on my face for thy dear name,
Shame and reproach shall be,
I’ll hail reproach and welcome shame
For thou’lt remember me?
So waiting upon the Lord pours power into the central reservoir of our strength.
26. IV. Now I finish with the fourth point, which is, EXPERIENCE PROVES THIS. I want you to keep your Bibles open at the twenty-seventh Psalm, and see how my text is a summary of the entire psalm. All the rest of the verse may be compared to the numbers of an account, and this closing verse is the tallying up of the whole — waiting on the Lord is the path of wisdom.
27. For, first, in the opening verses David had been surrounded by enemies; he waited upon the Lord and the Lord made them stumble and fall. Afterwards, when they fought against him he told his sorrow to his God, and God lifted his head high above his enemies all around him, until he could sing in the sanctuary songs of exaltant joy to the Lord. My brethren, do the same when you are assailed. You are not in a country subject to actual war, but you have many adversaries, spiritual and otherwise. You have the prince of darkness armed against you, and a host of spiritual wickednesses in high places. Wait on the Lord in this conflict, and he will give you victory. Your strength is to sit still. Do not fret. Quietly refer all the contest to him who returns from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah, travelling in the greatness of his strength, because his foes and yours are trodden beneath his feet. Wait on the Lord. Flee away to the shadow of his pavilion, hide in the secret of his tabernacle. Climb up upon the rock, and stay there, and all the adversaries of your soul shall be broken in pieces.
28. Next, read the seventh and eighth verses, and you will see David occupied in prayer, and there, too, he succeeded and prospered abundantly, because in prayer he waited on the Lord. The very essence of prayer is to get the ear of God. You might as well whistle as pray unless you pray in spirit and in truth; and the very spirit and truth of prayer must lie in communion with God himself. If you have been praying after a fashion, and you have not gained what you prayed for, surely you have not yet reached the ear of God. Get into the secret place, go close to your Lord, and wait upon him in very deed; then you shall have great courage in prayer, renew your strength, and come back victorious.
29. Next, David had been enveloped in darkness. He was afraid that God was about to forsake him. He had lost the light of Jehovah’s countenance. I think I hear one say, “What am I to do in such a case?” Wait on the Lord. If he does not smile, still wait on him. The smile of his face is delightful, but if you lose it, hide under the shadow of his wing. When he does not smile he still loves. “Though he kills me,” said Job, “yet I will trust in him.” Even when he seems to be an angry God still throw yourself at his feet. Let nothing drive you away from him. If he lifts his sword to strike, the farther off, the heavier the blow will fall. Run close in, dear child, if your Father is going to whip you; run close in, he cannot strike hard then. Draw very near to your Father’s heart; lay hold on his strength, and put him against himself as it were, pleading his love against his wrath and saying, “You have sworn that you will not be angry with me, nor rebuke me; therefore deal tenderly with your child.” If anyone walks in darkness and sees no light, let him still trust and wait on the Lord.
30. In the next sense we find David forsaken by everyone. Father and mother had left him, still he waits upon the Lord and the Lord takes him up. Now that you are quite alone, dear widow, and the husband of your love is gone, wait on the Lord. Now that the children one by one have been carried to the silent tomb, wait on the Lord, and he will be better to you than ten sons. Now, young man, you are drifting around London without a helper, wait on the Lord, and he will direct your way. Yes, all of you who, either from persecution or bereavement, have come to be solitary, remember the Lord sets the solitary in families, and makes those families like a flock. Wait upon him and all will be well.
31. Next we find David in a difficult road, so that he prays, “Teach me your way, oh Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies”; but waiting on the Lord exactly met the case. Whenever you cannot tell what to do, wait upon the Lord. When the road turns this way and that, and you do not know which is right, kneel down and pray; you will know which way to go when you rise from your knees, or if you do not, kneel down again. The sign-post is best seen when we are in prayer. The oracle shall answer to you out of the excellent majesty when you have resigned your will and believingly sought direction from the Most High.
32. To conclude, we find next that David had been slandered by his enemies — “False witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.” What then? Still wait upon the Lord. “Oh, but I must answer them.” Yes, and then you will make bad worse; your slanderers will forge another lie when you have answered the first. “Oh, but,” one says, “I could bear such a charge if it were true.” Ah, but then you ought not to bear it, the truth of a bad report ought to grieve you but if it is not true, never mind, ignore it. “Oh, but they say —— .” What do they say? — Let them say it. No harm will come of it. Wait upon the Lord. They rail at you, take care not to rail again. Make no reply to howling wolves. When dogs bark let them bark, for it is their nature; they will stop when they are finished; and so with all our adversaries, they will confute themselves if we will only leave them alone. Our strength is to wait upon the Lord, tell him about it and leave it with him. Go to law? Yes, and get a suit which will not wear out in a hurry. Go to law, and bring upon yourself no end of troubles. In all other things except slander if you want a thing done do it yourself, but there, if you want to be well defended, let others defend you. Dirt will rub off when it is dry; be bravely patient. Wait upon the Lord, commit everything to him, and he will see you through, even to the triumphant end. All that you can do in your own justification will only make more mischief. Hands off then, and leave it with the Most High.
So we close by repeating our blessed text: “Wait on the Lord: be of
good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on
the Lord,” May he keep you waiting courageously for Christ’s sake.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 27]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 27” 27]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — God Is All-Sufficient” 676]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — The Christian Encouraged” 686]
Spirit of the Psalms
1 The Lord of glory is my light,
And my salvation too;
God is my strength; nor will I fear
What all my foes can do.
2 One privilege my heart desires;
Oh grand me an abode
Among the churches of thy saints,
The temples of my God.
3 There shall I offer my requests,
And see thy beauty still;
Shall hear thy messages of love,
And there enquire thy will.
4 When troubles rise, and storms appear,
There may his children hide;
God has a strong pavilion, where
He makes my soul abide.
5 Now shall my head be lifted high
Above my foes around;
And songs of joy and victory
Within thy temple sound.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
The Christian, Courage and Confidence
676 — God Is All Sufficient
1 Awake our souls, away our fears,
Let every trembling thought begone
Awake, and run the heavenly race,
And put a cheerful courage on.
2 True, ‘tis a strait and thorny road,
And mortal spirits tire and faint;
But they forget the mighty God
That feeds the strength of every saint.
3 Thee, mighty God, whose matchless power
Is ever new and ever young,
And firm endures, while endless years
Their everlasting circles run.
4 From thee, the overflowing spring,
Our souls shall drink a fresh supply,
While such as trust their native strength,
Shall melt away, and droop, and die.
5 Swift as an eagle cuts the air,
We’ll mount aloft to thine abode;
On wings of love our souls shall fly,
Nor tire amidst the heavenly road.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
The Christian, Courage and Confidence
686 — The Christian Encouraged
1 Give to the winds thy fears;
Hope, and be undismay’d;
God hears thy sighs, and counts thy tears:
God shall lift up thy head.
2 Through waves, and clouds, and storms,
He gently clears thy way;
Wait thou his time; so shall the night
Soon end in joyous day.
3 He everywhere hath sway,
And all things serve his might;
His every act pure blessing is,
His path unsullied light.
4 When he makes bare his arm,
What shall his work withstand?
When he his people’s cause defends,
Who, who shall stay his hand?
5 Leave to his sovereign sway
To choose and to command;
With wonder fill’d thou then shalt own
How wise, how strong his hand.
6 Thou comprehend’st him not;
Yet earth and heaven tell,
God sits as Sovereign on his throne,
He ruleth all things well.
7 Thou seest our weakness, Lord,
Our hearts are known to thee:
Oh lift thou up the sinking hand,
Confirm the feeble knee!
8 Let us, in life and death,
Thy steadfast truth declare;
And publish, with our latest breath,
Thy love, and guardian care.
Paul Gerhardt, 1659.
tr. by John Wesley, 1739, a.