Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Watching in Expectation

Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.
(Psalm 5:1-2)
David has spoken his words and thought his thoughts to the LORD. He has cried out to his King. He has brought his request, and brought it early, before God. He has directed his heart toward God, casting his cares on Him. There is now only one thing left to do: “And I will look up.” The NIV has it as, “And wait in expectation;” the HSCB as, “And watch expectantly.” It is the essence of hope.

Today, we often use our English word “hope” in a tentative way, to speak of things we desire to happen, things that can happen and perhaps will happen. Perhaps, or perhaps not. But that is not how the Bible uses the Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as “hope.” They speak of a positive expectation, a joyful anticipation, and there is a confidence to them. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” the author of Hebrews tells us (Hebrews 11:1). The word for “substance” speaks of the assurance and underlying reality of what is hoped for. Faith, then, is the underlying reality of things we do not yet see but fully expect to come to pass.

So, David brings his meditation (his “sighing,” as the HCSB says) before God, and now he has hope. But why? What is the reason for his positive expectation?
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil dwell with You.
The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (vv. 4-6)
David is expectant because he knows that God is not pleased by wickedness, nor with those who take pleasure in wickedness. The proud, the boastful, the bloodthirsty, the deceitful, these were the kind of people who were troubling David — the kind of people who are still present in the world today! God is not happy with them. They do not honor His way or believe His Word. They have no faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). David, on the other hand, follows a different path.
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face. (vv. 7-8)
David leans hard into the one who has revealed Himself in covenant relationship by the name Yahweh (rendered in English by the word LORD, all caps). It is the name by which God has promised to be steadfast in love and mercy toward His people. The righteousness of Yahweh is not just His goodness in general. More particularly, it is His faithfulness in keeping His covenant. What God has promised, He will do. David comes depending on God’s covenant love and faithfulness. There is no faithfulness in David’s enemies, only falseness and flattery. They are wicked to the core and full of destruction, their throats like open tombs and their words like snares (v. 9).

David is waiting now, but for what is he watching? For God to come and settle the issue and set things right, to hold his enemies accountable. It is time for their counsels to fail, for them to fall by their own plans and be put out of the community, so that they can no longer trouble the innocent and the good. For in coming against the covenant people, they have rebelled against God Himself (v. 10). That is not the extent of David’s expectation, though. He also has a joyful anticipation for the covenant people themselves.
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You surround him as with a shield. (vv. 11-12)
God honors those who honor Him, and keeps covenant with those who keep covenant with Him. He shows Himself faithful to those who put their trust in Him. He fills them with His joy and surrounds them with His favor.

Advent is a season of waiting and watching. Though there are many troubles about, and we are living in between the already of God’s kingdom breaking into the world and the not yet of when every eyes beholds it, God fills us with His joy and surrounds us with His favor. So we look up in joyful anticipation of what God is going to do next and how King Jesus will come to set everything right.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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