It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
I. THE ATTITUDE OF THE PIOUS SOUL. He who is graphically described in these verses:
1. Seeks God. For we are not called upon to be utterly passive; we are not led to expect that blessings will come to us without any exertion upon our part. To seek God in our daily life, in the order of his providence, in the pages of his Word, is a reasonable and profitable exercise.
2. Hopes for his salvation. And why not? Has not the Most High revealed himself as a Saviour? And is not salvation the blessing we most urgently need?
3. Quietly waits for it. This beautiful expression implies that the word of promise is believed, and that without doubting the soul expects its fulfilment. A rebuke to those who think that seeking God is accompanied with noise and excitement.
II. THE REWARD OF THE PIOUS SOUL.
1. There is what may be called the reflex influence of waiting, The expectant seeker and suppliant finds the very posture he is led to assume good and profitable. "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."
2. The Lord is actually good unto such as wait for him. He is pledged to this. His servants have ever found this to be the case. For the expectation honours him from whom the blessing is expected. The patient are delivered from their troubles, and to those who seek the Lord his glory is unveiled. - T.
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE "SALVATION OF THE LORD." The "salvation of the Lord" here is something else than the first view which a sinful man obtains of pardon and peace, through "the great God our Saviour." It is the salvation which a man needs in any crisis of life, where he suffers under trial or is threatened with it. And, in these trials, hope and quiet waiting do not come at once into their fullest exercise. As long as human means can avail, it is a man's duty, trusting to Divine help, to employ them. To sit and wait, where effort can avail, is to insult God's providence. The "salvation of the Lord" is when all conceivable means have been employed, and have failed. We may struggle on with a blind despair, and, as long as strength remains, we must struggle on; but this power, too, seems to be failing. It is then that the ease rises distinctly into "the salvation of the Lord." Nothing can save us but His marked interposition, and the heart must put itself in the attitude of "hope and quiet waiting" for it. There may be some who are using every endeavour to secure subsistence and an honourable position for themselves and those dependent on them; and yet all their efforts are unsuccessful. If some change does not quickly come, they feel that temporal ruin is on them. It is a time not to relax effort, but to look out more intently for deliverance from God, and to have the heart resting on it. Or there may be some one who has the presence of a constant difficulty in the spiritual life, — perhaps the want of that sense of religious comfort which is felt to be so desirable, or the obtrusion of some painful doubt about doctrine or duty, through which no present light can be seen. No exertion to reach light is to be neglected, but there may be a more implicit confidence in Him who is the Father of lights, — holding steadfastly to what is felt to be true, and waiting for illumination on what is doubtful — "casting out the anchor and wishing for the day." Perhaps there are some who are deeply interested in the spiritual welfare of a soul dear to them as their own. Their prayer has been rising, like that of Abraham for Ishmael, "O that he might live before God!" But all means have appeared to fail. Then this remains to us, — to take all our endeavour, and leave it with God, in whose hand are the hearts of all men, who can follow the wanderer wherever his feet or his thoughts may carry him, and can bring him again to himself, and to his Father's house. Or it may be there is some life which has lost all the relish it once possessed, — where wasting sickness has undermined the strength, — or friends who were the hue and perfume of it have been taken away, — or hopes that hung on its horizon like a coming glory have melted into thin air, — and existence seems to have no more an object, and duty sinks into a dull mechanical round, and the night comes down dark and starless, and the morning rises cold and colourless. It is hard to say what can restore to such a life its vigour and freshness, for the mind comes oftentimes to have a morbid love of the gloom which is its misery, and to reckon it treason to its past hopes to turn its eye from their sepulchre. God only knows the remedy, and it is a special time to call up higher duty to our aid — the duty of turning to Him, and striving to feel that He has it in his power, though we may not see how, to save us over the grave of our most cherished hopes, without causing us to forget them, and to shine in with a reviving light upon the dullest and bleakest of earthly walks.
I. WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE SALVATION HERE SPOKEN OF.
Hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
(W. F. Adeney, M. A.)
1. A salvation from every kind and degree of evil — sin, temptations, the troubles of this world, and future everlasting miseries (Revelation 21:3, 4).
2. The being put into the possession of all good (2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:4, 5). Every desire filled up, every prayer answered, and all changed into the most exalted, everlasting praise and thanksgiving.
II. WHY IS IT CALLED THE SALVATION OF THE LORD?
1. It is a salvation worthy of Him (Hebrews 11:16).
2. It is designed, prepared, and promised by Him (Revelation 2:10).
3. It is a salvation that will consist in the enjoyment of Him.
III. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN HOPING AND PATIENTLY WAITING FOR IT?
1. Having the heart fixed by faith on the salvation of God as real, though out of sight (Hebrews 11:1).
2. A full persuasion that the salvation of God will come at last, though for a time deferred.
3. Expecting the salvation of God in His time; depending upon His wisdom to choose the fittest season, and His faithfulness to remember us when that season comes.
4. Serious care to be found ready, whenever called to enter upon the salvation of God, which we have been waiting for.
IV. IN WHAT RESPECTS IT MAY BE SAID TO BE GOOD, THUS TO HOPE AND QUIETLY WAIT FOR THE SALVATION OF GOD.
1. It is good, as it redounds to God's glory; as it is a testimony of his power and grace.
2. As it may encourage others to look, and wait for this salvation.
3. As it will be comfortable to ourselves, disposing us to meet the will of God in a becoming manner.
II. WHAT IS MEANT BY THESE EXERCISES OF THE SOUL TOWARDS GOD'S SALVATION, — "TO HOPE, AND QUIETLY TO WAIT." Every one of us knows, without any laboured definition, what it is to hope. But if we are to set ourselves to practise it in a Christian way, it may be useful to look at some of its elements. The foundation of hope may be said to lie in desire. It differs from desire in this, that desire pursues many things that can never be objects of hope to us. We can only hope for that which is felt to be possible and reasonable. This, then, is the first thing for us to do, if we would strengthen hope, to see that its objects are right and good, — that is, accordant with the Divine will, and beneficial for us. We may learn this by consulting God's Word, and our own thoughtful experience. The next element in Christian hope is faith. Hope differs from faith in this, that we believe in many things in regard to which we do not hope. Hope is faith with desire pointing out the objects. If we have sought to make these desires Christian and reasonable, then we may consistently call in the aid of faith. "The Lord shall give that which is good." When we have sought to purify our desires and to make them the subject of faith, as far as they are right and good, there is still a third element to be added to make our hope strong — that of imagination. It is that power of the soul which gives to hope its wings. Let it but rise from the desire of what is true and good, and be chastened by the faith of what God has promised, and it can lift up the soul above the most terrible trials, and put it already in possession of the unseen and heavenly. Every true Christian has the soul of the poet latent in his nature, and if many are kept depressed and earth-attracted, it is because they do not strive enough to free this power from sinful and worldly encumbrances, and to give it wings to soar to its native home. The next exercise of soul which we are to cherish toward God's interpositions is "quiet waiting." It is the part of hope to seek the future; it is the duty of patience to rest calmly in the present, and not to fret — to be satisfied to be where God appoints, and to suffer what God sends. It is fitly pieced after hope, because it follows it in the natural course of an educated Christian life. Hope belongs to youth; patience is the lesson of maturity. As there are means for stimulating hope, so there are also for strengthening patience, and there is, in some measure, a correspondence in them. One means is common to both — the employment of faith. It will enable us more quietly to wait if we have confidence in the all-wise and all-merciful arrangements of God. He can make all its wastes to be as Eden, and bring out the best spiritual results from what seem to us the most barren spots. In other respects, the means for growing in patience are very different from those that help hope. If hope is nursed by desire of what we have not, patience is maintained by contentment with what we have. Our duty may be, when desire of something lost or longed for is consuming us, to bend our look more intently on the present, and try to discover how many things, and how precious, God has left to us. Again, we must cultivate patience by a calm attention to duties. Quiet waiting is not inaction. We may be waiting for one object, while we are steadily working for another. It is a kind law of our nature, that labour expended on any object gives an interest in it; and it is a still kinder law of the kingdom of God, that the tamest and most insignificant of daily duties may be made noble and Divine, when the thought of God and the will of Christ are carried into them.
III. THE BENEFIT OF UNITING THESE — "It is good both to hope and quietly to wait." Every Christian heart feels how it can be going forward in thought to some blessing God has promised, and yet resting, while it is withheld, in submission to the Divine will, — as John, in Patmos, walked the streets of the heavenly city, and listened to its songs, and yet abode in his solitary exile, and was satisfied to be there as long as God required.
1. The one is needful to save the other from sinking into sin. If hope possessed the Christian heart alone, it would be ready to flutter itself into impatience. On the other hand, if we had quiet waiting without hope, it would be in danger of settling into stagnancy. The object of its waiting would disappear, and trials without any end in view would benumb and paralyse it. The one is needful to raise the other to his full strength. The Saviour still leaves us, as He left His first disciples in the garden, with the words, "Tarry ye here and watch," and promises to come again. If hope can lay hold of this promise, and keep it fast, patience will maintain its post like a sentinel who is sure of relief at the appointed hour, and if the hour seems long, will beguile it with those words, which have passed like a "song in the night" through many a weary heart, — "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." Then, as imps strengthens patience, patience in turn will strengthen hope. Patience brooding over its own quiet spirit, which yet it feels is not its own, has the presentiment and augury of an end beyond itself. In the deep well of a tranquil heart, the star of hope is lying, — ever clearer as the calm is deepening, — reflected down into it from God's own heaven. This is God's manner, first, to give the inward peace of soul, and afterwards the final deliverance. He came into the ship and calmed the disciples' fears, and then He spoke and calmed the storm: "I will be with thee in trouble"; and then it follows, "I will deliver thee." And now, if it be possible to unite these two, and if it be so needful, it should be the lesson of our life daily to aim at it, to hope without impatience, and to wait without despondency, — to fold the wing in captivity, like a caged bird, and be ready to use the pinion when He breaks our prison. We shall find increasingly "how good it is." It is good now in the depth of the soul, — in the conscious assurance that it is better to rest in the hardest of God's ways than to wander at will in our own. "Behold, we count them happy who endure." We shall find it good in the growth of all the Christian graces, under the shadow of patience. We shall find how good is in the enhancement of every blessing for which we have to wait. God's plan of providing blessings for us is to educate the capacity which is to receive them. We are straitened in ourselves, and must be kept waiting till our minds and hearts enlarge. "Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." Of all the motives to hopeful endurance, surely this last is not the smallest, that He who lays the duty upon us has Himself given the example of it. He asks nothing from us that He has not done for us, and done by a harder road, and with a heavier burden.
(John Ker, D. D.)
I. Apart from the actual contents of such a statement, beneath it and running through it there is clearly implied AN INTENSE CONVICTION THAT GOD RULES THIS WORLD, AND THAT HE RULES IT IN THE INTERESTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. In verses like the 37th and the 64th, such a conviction finds vigorous expression: And it is still true that, in order to bear mystery and sorrow in peace and without any serious disturbance of thought or spirit, a man cannot do better than cling to these fundamental truths. Nature in some of their moods will have made most men feel, in the certainty of her processes, the inerrancy with which her life unfolds in ever higher forms of fitness and beauty, that, —
The whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.History, too, if it reveals anything, reveals the throne of God above the nations, and methods of government by which in the long run righteousness is always vindicated. And unless conscience is to be regarded as inexplicable, a haunting mystery whose immortal sanctions are simply meaningless, there must be in this world, and over it, a living and active God, the primary source of all pure morals, whose rule in everything makes for righteousness. It is not possible, indeed, always to see that such is the case. For human experience is full of discords.
1. Occasionally all that men can do, in the assaults of doubt to which they are inclined to give no place, is to cry unto God with the prophet, "Verily, Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour," and then the old assurance comes back, solving all difficulties, charming every doubt away: "That the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Therefore "I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him."
2. It is not difficult to determine the effect upon the feelings and state of heart that ought in reason to follow this conviction and to be produced by it. Here is a God whose rule is righteous, so absolutely righteous that under His rule men always reap the fruit of their own ways. Just as, therefore, disaster must overtake the wicked, salvation must come to the God-fearing man. Again, therefore, he may venture to regard it as certain, and, however unlikely it seems, to hope and quietly to wait for it. What particular form the salvation assumes is of little importance, provided it is one which relates to the real interests of the soul.
3. But this important little word "quietly" must not be overlooked. There are some qualities or possible accompaniments of hope that altogether spoil it, and make it anything rather than a minister to comfort and salvation. Of these undesirable companions, the worst are perhaps impatience and suspense, for indifference, as being almost the negation of hope and fatal to vigour, need not be considered. Impatient hope, weary of slow process and gradual growth, eager to grasp the prize before it has been fairly earned, and to pluck the fruit before the sun and the showers have had time to ripen it — it is met with often enough in the ordinary life. Most Christians will have found themselves disposed now and again to complain that the influences of grace have not more quickly perfected them, that the first brief prayer has not been followed by the flight of every temptation. The Divine rule is, alike for peace and for progress in religion, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." God's care for His people, His effective interference for their protection and safety, the completion of the work that is being done by His sanctifying Spirit, — these things, as far as the Operation of His grace is concerned, do not admit of any doubt. "Hope quietly" — that is, without any excitement and with full confidence of success. The salvation of the Lord is certain; and accordingly the prophet bids us treat it as certain, not worry or make a noise about our difficulties, but go steadily on day after day, doing our duty, making the best of our troubles, strangers to fear.
4. That, says the prophet, is "good" for a man — which word, in his usage, which is not unlike the modern ethical usage, denotes the blessed combination of dutifulness and personal satisfaction. In this verse almost every phrase implies the possession of some main element of happiness. He who hopes "quietly for the salvation of the Lord" will be tranquil in spirit, exercising self-control, will have the sense of security and the knowledge that a God is caring for him and is gradually disciplining him into Godlikeness; and it is no wonder the prophet pronounced that to be good for a man.
II. Jeremiah did not feel any necessity to limit and qualify his advice, or to exclude any section of a sincere life from its application. It sets forth therefore THE ATTITUDE WHICH A CHRISTIAN MAN MAY VENTURE TO MAINTAIN UNIFORMLY TOWARDS MATTERS THAT MAY BE A SOURCE OF PERPLEXITY TO ALL, AND ALSO TOWARDS THOSE WHICH ONLY HIS OWN TEMPERAMENT OR HIS OWN TENDENCIES OF THOUGHT MAKE ALARMING. Not least of all does it apply to the controversies concerning Church and faith, scripture and doctrine, which because of their complexity are apt to be invested with needless terrors, and because of their connection with personal religion seem sometimes to threaten and imperil the most sacred convictions.
1. With respect to the unexaggerated difficulties in doctrine or in organisation that do exist, such questions as those of inspiration, of the authorship of various parts of the Old Testament and its bearing upon the authority of the New, of the relationships of the Churches and the methods of worship, this verse prescribes the way in which we should regard them — not shut our eyes to their existence, or be frightened at them but "hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."
2. With the political and social problems of the day, the cares of enterprise, and of children and home, the perpetual disappointments and troubles that are crowded into every man's life, the same rule holds good, that Christian men should not worry, or despond, or doubt, but remember the throne of God over all, and quietly wait for His salvation. If obedience to that rule is not always easy, it is always reasonable and a blessed ministry of strength and peace. Few troubles continue unendurable, when a man knows that through them the grace of God will be with him, and that after them will come such a blessed and permanent reversal of experience as will more than compensate for all.
(R. Waddy Moss.)I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE SALVATION OF THE LORD. Salvation literally means the act of delivering any one from danger or misfortune; and implies at once some misery or peril from which deliverance is needed, and some power sufficient to work that deliverance out. And the statement that there is salvation with God, is a declaration of the miserable condition in which we are by nature, and an announcement that God has set before us a means whereby we may escape, and that His mighty hand is put forth to render those means effectual.
II. WHEREFORE IT IS GOOD THAT A MAN SHOULD HOPE FOR THIS SALVATION. There are many who cannot be properly said to hope for it; — they appear to be certain that they shall attain to it, although not one of the marks of Christ's flock be visible upon them. Others, again, are manifestly utterly careless about it; they pass through life without showing a single desire for salvation, or a single anxiety respecting the state of their souls. And others yet again appear to despair; — they seem to acknowledge their need of salvation, but to think that it is not possible that they can ever lay aside those sins which separate them from God. Now, none of these can be said to hope; because hope is a mixture of desire to obtain, of fear of coming short, and of belief in the possibility of attaining the "salvation of the Lord"; — and those who have not fixed their minds upon it, in the sense of their own guilt, and of the power and willingness of the Lord to forgive, are as yet utterly destitute of this Christian grace. But the awakened sinner, along with that conviction of his sins which the Holy Spirit has wrought in him, receives the hope that God will be merciful to him, for the sake of a crucified Saviour; and this draws him to that Saviour.
III. WHEREFORE IT IS GOOD THAT A MAN SHOULD QUIETLY WAIT FOR THIS SALVATION. This almost appears to contradict the former part of the text; — because nothing can seem more opposed to hope than quietly waiting. But this contradiction is only in appearance. The reason that there is so much impatience connected with all human wishes and expectations is, that our hopes with respect to this world are ever uncertain. But it is otherwise with respect to "the salvation of the Lord." In it there is nothing doubtful; for He Himself has promised to give it; — in it there is no deceit; for Jesus the Author and the purchaser of our salvation is indeed "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." In clinging then to Him, and laying hold on His salvation, the poor sinner finds that he receives the fulfilment of all the promises; — and as the sweetest and the best of these hold out to us deliverance not only from the punishment but from the dominion of sin, he looks on the very disposition to wait quietly, so contrary to unconverted human nature, as a part of the salvation for which he hopes. The Christian should therefore "quietly wait"; but he should do so in the diligent use of the means for growth in grace; stirring up the gifts which have already been bestowed on him, of faith, whereby he lays hold on the promises, — of hope, whereby he looks for their fulfilment, of prayer, whereby he expresses that faith and that hope to God, and seeks to have the crowning grace of love shed abroad on his heart. And this he may well do, if taught by the Spirit of God that his heavenly Father deals more wisely with him than he would deal with himself, were the freedom of choice allowed him. It is true that it is not so pleasant to remain in this state as it would be to have at once the fulness of spiritual joy; but it is more profitable to the heir of immortality to be trained to the habitual exercise of patience and submission to the Divine will, as this must be the best preparation for heaven
(R. W. Kyle, B. A.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
I. PATIENT WAITING. This is a Divine virtue. It is that quality in man which makes him most like God. It is commended to us in every part of the Bible as the distinguishing quality of the faithful. It is needed in every age, but we especially need it in this particular age, for the times in which we live are characterised by rush, fever, and haste. That is the paramount feature of the time. We want to force the pace, to break the record, and to make God's machinery, as well as human machinery, move faster. It is a fast age; life is in a ferment of activity, the nerves are too highly strung, the brain is in a whirl, and we cannot bear delays. We want to see the dawn breaking while it is still midnight, and to clear away all our obstructions, difficulties, and troubles by one stroke. We want to be rich without any loss of time; to reach to top places without the disagreeable necessities of slow climbing, and oh! that some prophet would fix the day and the hour for us; how handsomely we would pay him if he would fix it early and antedate God's time, for the "mill of God" does grind so slowly, so slowly. But here comes the sweet, tender, chiding answer. "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."
II. HOPE DEPENDENT ON WAITING. Without hope life has no sky; it is a plant which virtually dies for want of nourishment, light, and air. When hope goes, energy goes, and all earnest hope, and any emotion of joy, and there is nothing left to live for. The pessimist says, "Is life worth living?" and I answer him emphatically, "No, it is not — to one in your mood." Hope always perishes where there is no patient waiting. If you cannot bear to have your hopes delayed, you soon come to the conclusion that every hope is a deception, every promise is a delusion, and every prayer a mockery; and then presently you are found repeating with grim despair that most dismal of all proverbs, "Blessed is the man that expecteth nothing." Pessimists are always men who have lost their hopes and lost their hearts because their hopes have not been speedily fulfilled.
III. WAITING THE TEST OF MANHOOD. It marks the highest type of man, it distinguishes the man from the child, the thinking man from the intellectual weakling, the higher races from the lower races, the civilised man from the savage. The savage is always like a child, impatient; you can hardly persuade him to till the ground, because he would have to wait six months for the harvest; he kills the goose which lays the golden eggs, because he cannot wait for a slow return. And there are hundreds of young men who are as senseless as the savage in that respect: they burn the candle of pleasure at both ends, and in the middle too, heedless of darkness that is coming in future years, if they can only make a big glaring flame at the present moment. But as soon as ever you lift men up in the scale of being, they begin to build and plant and labour, though the results may not be seen for years; and you can always measure the strength and nobility and the very magnitude of a man by this: Does he know how to wait? We are told of the astronomer Kepler that when his great discoveries were announced, but rejected and scorned by all the learned and religious world, he quietly said, "If the Almighty waited six thousand years for one man to see what He had made, I may well wait two hundred years for one man to understand what I have seen." There was a great soul behind that utterance.
IV. The BLUNDERS OF IMPATIENCE. Men become like wild creatures in their hurried haste to be rich; they want to win in a day what honest industry would only win in years, and then craft takes the place of toil; astute cunning and sleight of hand the place of diligence and perseverance; madness engulfs sober reason, greed devours all human feeling, and manhood perishes; and often the only end of it is bankruptcy, ruin, and disgrace. These are the works of impatience; and am I not right in saying that nearly all the follies of political life and the blunders Which great nations commit are the result of impatience? Just think what a wretched coil of trouble was made for us in the Transvaal some years ago by the strong-headed men — nay, the hot-headed boys — who raided and failed: mad haste and long repentance for them and others — that is what comes of it. And now through all this crisis we hear voices urging the same mad haste. Strong and sober and level headed men have been saying throughout, and are saying now, "Be firm, press your just claims, do not draw back, but above all things be patient." It is patience that wins in these difficulties, and especially when justice is on its side.
V. THE REWARD OF WAITING. If you labour on and do not lose heart, and bind yourselves fast to that hard, just master, Duty, you win your proper place in time. If God sees the fitness in you, the world will see it by and by. Nothing can keep a man permanently down if the higher voice is bidding him "Come up higher." It is only a question of time and patience, if you labour and do always the thing that is right. The Christian work that has been so disappointing and unprofitable will at last yield the fruits of righteousness. And your own besetting sins, too, against which you fought and prayed so long, will at last be trampled down by Him who subdues all things unto Himself.
(J. G. Greenhough, M. A.)
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