Read: Psalm 18:1-6; Psalm 18:30-36
Several days ago, we watched a two-part episode of MASH on TV. It was the one that pictured what happened in the lives of the various characters of the show during an entire year. One of the fun incidents that was chronicled involved the chaplain, Father Mulcahy who had decided to grow corn. He had a plan that on July 4, they would have a picnic and eat the delicious corn on the cob he had grown. He anticipated with delight, the enjoyment of getting a kernel caught in his teeth and the corn juice dripping down his chin. Unfortunately, his hopes were dashed by the cook who thought that he was helping when he cut the corn off the cobs and creamed it. Hopes weren't realized, and his time of waiting resulted in far less joy than he had anticipated. However, sometimes, it is worth the wait. May I explain?
This has been a challenging gardening season. For example, we had a late freeze that destroyed most of the flowers on the fruit trees. Even so, we have been watching the peach tree which we discovered, had a few very small peaches. We even put netting over the tree, with the hope that the peaches might get large enough to ripen. I surely didn't want to share any of the precious sparse fruit with my feathered friends. Today, there it was. It wasn't large at all. Perhaps the size of a lemon, but it was ripe, and when my husband and I shared it and enjoyed its sweetness, we exclaimed that each little bite was worth the wait.
In today's scripture reading, we read that King David too, knew that experiencing God's deliverance was worth the wait. The notation, even prior to verse 1 of the psalm says so much. The king is writing to thank God for the victory he experienced. He had been victorious over Saul and those whom he called his enemies. Let's think about David's life prior to writing this song of praise.
In 1 Samuel 16, David was anointed as Israel's king while he was still a youth. It is probable that around twenty years elapsed before David actually sat on Israel's throne. During those years, David had to flee from Saul whose jealous rage often flared up against him. The king elect was also in danger from those who collaborated with Saul. Therefore, David hid in caves and in rocky places.
On at least two separate occasions, David's men urged him to take matters into his own hands. It was when they came across Saul when he was unprotected. He could have easily been killed by David's men. David said no because he wanted to wait for God. He refused to kill Saul, believing that in God's time, God would oversee the means of Saul's demise, 1 Samuel 26:5-25.
Can you imagine waiting for all of those months and years while enduring such emotionally and physically trying circumstances? David didn't do it perfectly, 1 Samuel 27:1, but his heart always turned back to trusting His God. No wonder Psalm 18 begins not with a sigh of frustration but a cry of victory. David is giving great honor to the God he has come to know during the wait, the One whom he loves, Psalm 18:1. No doubt the wait was long, but during those years, David experienced God as Rock, Refuge, Deliverer and Strengthener. God is the One Who not only heard David's cries but came to his rescue.
I don't know if David would have rather not experienced the long wait, but his relationship, as revealed in this psalm, was deeper and richer because his deliverance didn't come quickly. The picture painted by David of God's moving on his behalf reminds us that if we have no needs to great for us to solve, we won't experience anything that only the Lord can do.
Psalm 18:30-36 give us more truth that David experienced both during his long wait and afterwards. In verse 30, David reminds us that God's way is perfect, and His promises are trustworthy. Yes, it is true that at times during those years of waiting, David's faith weakened and weariness set in. Aren't we glad that the Bible includes his times of weariness? God doesn't air brush his children in order to display only their strengths. Yet, in spite of some times when David fell short, God's promises held firm. He was holding David up, just as He holds us fast, John 10:27-30. He is the Faithful Shepherd for His children, and He will not fail to do what He has promised.
In Psalm 18:32, David reminds us that God is strengthener, both during the times of waiting and when we are enjoying the fruit of the wait. It is like the promise of Philippians 4:13, where Paul speaks of God pouring His strength into us. How many times has he buoyed us up, just as He did in David's times of need?
There are many more truths that could be noted, but let's end with a precious one from verse 35. It is there that we hear David saying that God's help-or it can be translated gentleness-has made him great. I love that. Even as David looked back, he knew that God had been the One Who had kept him throughout his long wait. The Lord's gentle help at the right time had sustained him and helped David do what was good. It was God Who kept him from sinking into total despair. Perhaps David was remembering God's gift of Jonathan's friendship or Abigail's words of reminder that God used to tamp down his rage, 1 Samuel 25:23-35.
How many times has God's gentle help enabled us to do what we should?
Any goodness or greatness that we have experienced has its source in God. The Giver of good gifts, James 1:17, is the One to be praised.
Lord, Thank You for sustaining us through our times of waiting. Because of what You have done, are doing and will do in and through our lives, we can and will be able to say that it was worth the wait.