Psalms - Teachers Comments

2024 Quarter 1 Lesson 13 - Wait on the Lord

Teachers Comments
Mar 23 - Mar 29

Key Text: Psalm 27:14

The concept of waiting in the book of Psalms denotes having, and demonstrating, an enduring faith. Believers are called to wait upon the Lord for the fulfillment of His promises, just as Abraham and Sarah were called to wait for the blessing of the promised child (Gen. 12:1–4, Gen. 21:1–5), which, finally, was bestowed after 25 years. Similarly, Israel waited for deliverance, enduring 430 years in Egypt, before departing for the Promised Land (Gen. 15:13; Exod. 12:40, 41). Likewise, the psalmists, with enduring faith, held on to God’s promises, as did Daniel, who, in fulfillment of the 70 years of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer. 29:10, 11), waited for the return of the Jews to the Promised Land (Dan. 9:1, 2). The Jews also waited hundreds of years for the promised Messiah until the fullness of time was reached and Jesus came to this earth in human flesh.

Waiting is made up of two variables: (1) the anticipation of the fulfillment of a promise, and (2) the expectation that what is promised will be fulfilled within, or by, a certain time. In life, when we wait, we actively anticipate an event to come, whether we await a new job, an imminent wedding, the birth of a baby, the completion of an academic degree, an upcoming voyage, a new appointment, et cetera. A lapse of time must transpire between the anticipation of the event itself and its fulfillment. The same is true for God’s promises in our daily life as well as for the ultimate fulfillment of the great events in the plan of Redemption.

Part II: Commentary

Six Hebrew verbs or words are used by the psalmists when they wish to express the challenges associated with waiting. We shall consider each of them briefly.


Qawah is the most common Hebrew verb used to express the concept of hope, which also can be expressed in the verbal form “to wait for,” “to await,” “to expect.” Of the 20 times in which qawah is used in the Psalter, the Lord is the object or the One longed for: “Let no one who waits on You be ashamed” (Ps. 25:3, NKJV; see Ps. 69:6); “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You” (Ps. 25:21, NKJV); “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (Ps. 62:5, NKJV). As these verses amply show, our confidence should always be in the Lord.

The noun form, “hope” (Hebrew tiqvah), also comes from the verbal root of qawah: “You are my hope, O Lord God, you are my trust from my youth” (Ps. 71:5, NKJV). For the psalmist, the only hope we have in this life is in God. After considering how ephemeral this existence is, the psalmist exclaims to the Lord, “My hope is in You” (Ps. 39:7, NKJV).

The verb qawah can be used in a negative sense, as in waiting for the destruction of God’s people at the hands of the enemy (Ps. 56:6, Ps. 119:95). The negative use of this word reminds us, as sinners, that the focus of our hope is often centered on an anticipation of an evil outcome. To guard against this tendency, our expectations must come from hearts regenerated by the Holy Spirit.


Yahal means “to wait, hope, endure, long for.” After qawah, it’s the verbal root most used in the Old Testament to express hope. Of the 48 times in which it is used, 21 of those instances occur in the book of Psalms. Yahal is usually connected with qawah (Job 30:26, Ps. 39:8, Ps. 130:5, Prov. 10:28, Prov. 11:7, Isa. 51:5).

In the book of Job, yahal is usually applied to hope that is futile or seems useless, and is thus not connected to God (Job 6:11, Job 14:14, Job 29:21). But such is not the case in the Psalter. God is the explicit object of the hope that is rendered from yahal, as indicated in Psalm 31:24, “all you who hope in the Lord” (NKJV); Psalm 33:22, “just as we hope in You” (NKJV); Psalm 38:15, “for in You, O Lord, I hope” (NKJV); Psalm 39:7, “my hope is in You” (NKJV); Psalm 42:11, “hope in God” (NKJV); and Psalm 69:3, “my eyes fail while I wait for my God” (NKJV). Our Creator is worthy of all our confidence. Our trust in His faithfulness and love is the foundation of all true religion, and the basis of the relationship between God and humans. This relationship is based on His mercy and on His loving-kindness, which He bestows upon those who trust in Him (Ps. 33:18, Ps. 147:11).

In light of the aforementioned Bible truths, we find it expedient to direct our attention, once again, to Psalm 119. As this psalm testifies, the object of hope is the Word of God (Ps. 119:43, 49, 74, 81, 114, 147). Moreover, the words from the mouth of God, as recorded in the Scriptures, are the only true foundation for the Christian faith. It is within the pages and promises of the Scriptures that the Christian may find the assurance of his hope and salvation. The enemy is well aware of this fact and has made the Bible a special focus of his attacks, attempting to distract the believer from its truths or to deceive him into believing that the Scriptures are mere myth, invented by humans. All evidence we encounter in support of the Bible, its transforming power, its fulfilled prophecies, and its wonderful promises, should impel us to join with the psalmist in asserting, “And in His word I do hope” (Ps. 130:5, NKJV). Above all else, our attention should be focused on the Scriptures as the source of all our hope.


The verb hkah means “to wait, endure, expect, hope.” As with the previous verb, yahal, the object of hkah is usually God (Isa. 8:17, Isa. 30:18, Isa. 64:3, Zeph. 3:8).

Hkah is used only twice in the Psalter. The first usage appears in Psalm 33:20, a song that exalts the Creator and Sustainer of the world (Ps. 33:1–11). Psalm 33:12 is the key verse of this psalm, stating the election of God’s people by the Lord. Such election is the foundation of a believer’s confidence in God. By contrast, we cannot trust in force of arms, weapons, or warriors (Ps. 33:16, 17). The psalmist proclaims, “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield” (Ps. 33:20, NKJV). As humans living in a secular, materialistic culture, we tend to put our faith in our money, in our abilities and diplomas, in science, or in our country; but, as Christians, our trust should rest solely in the Lord.

The other usage of the verb, in Psalm 106, shows the lack of a patient, enduring spirit. Psalm 106 is a historical psalm as we saw in a previous lesson. In Psalm 106:6, the writer recalls God’s miracles on behalf of His people during the Exodus and the subsequent wilderness sojourn. But God’s people “soon forgot His works; they did not wait (hkah) for His counsel” (Ps. 106:13, NKJV). We face the same great temptation today, as well. We all too easily can forget what the Lord has done in our lives, making it difficult to wait for His promises. The heart that forgets to wait upon the Lord may make a desperate attempt to “help” the Lord fulfill His promises, as we see in the story of Jacob and his mother, Rebekah. Their impatience to secure the birthright blessing, at almost any cost, serves as a potent reminder to us to wait on the Lord to provide, in His own time, what He has promised.


Dumah is a noun that means “silence, rest.” “It refers to the silence of death ([Pss.] 94:17; 115:17) . . . dumah refers to a silence or rest that reflects trust in God (Ps. 39:2 [3]; 62:1 [2]) or to a lack of silence that results from God’s apparent inactivity ([Ps.] 22:2).”—New International Dictionary of Old Testament Exegesis, entry on dumah, vol. 1, p. 912.

Psalm 62 uses this noun to mean waiting in silence. The word is translated twice, as follows:

Psalm 62:1: “Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation” (NKJV).

Psalm 62:5: “My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him” (NKJV).

Elsewhere in the Scriptures, “waiting” implies “to keep silent.” In times of waiting, the best way to endure and remain steadfast is to remain silent and meditate on God’s Word. Such a mindset helps to sustain and prepare us for the test of endurance that we must pass through before we see the fulfillment of our expectations. The Scripture comforts us in our waiting with these words: “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hab. 2:3, NKJV).


The verb sabar is used less often for hope in the Old Testament than the other words we’ve considered thus far. Sabar conveys the idea of “to expect, hope, examine.” The psalmist states with confidence, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope [_sabar_] is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 146:5, NKJV). Trusting the Lord will bring happiness to the believer, even in the midst of trials. We have studied about the reasons to trust God and to worship Him; the core of these reasons is hope.

Interestingly, the psalmist uses sabar twice to express the action of waiting and, as such, it exemplifies what waiting is all about. Psalm 104:27 and Psalm 145:15 depict the animals waiting for the Creator to feed them: “these all wait for You,” and “the eyes of all look expectantly to You” (NKJV). This imagery evokes the words of Jesus: “ ‘Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?’ ” (Matt. 6:26, NKJV). As this imagery instructs us, we should wait, with the patient expectation of the birds of the air, without anguish or desperation, for the blessings from heaven that God has promised us. As we cultivate patience and the humble faith of a child, we will be strengthened in our waiting. Our prayer life, as a result, will become more empowered too.


The verb hil means “to labor, writhe, tremble” and also “to bring to labor” or “brought to birth.” Thus, Psalm 37:7 can be translated, literally: “Rest in YHWH and ‘_travail, or bring forth in birth_’ for Him” (emphasis supplied). The implication is that the long-suffering endurance we must have as we wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled is like the anguish of an expectant mother ready to deliver her child. This period of suffering implies hard labor, intense pain, and tears. The result of the newborn baby, however, offsets the anticipation and experience of suffering. In the same way, waiting for the Lord often involves temporary anguish and suffering, but the outcome will be rich in blessings from the Lord.

Part III: Life Application

Hope is an important component of every aspect of temporal and spiritual life. The apostle Paul ranks it, along with faith and love, as among the three supreme virtues of a fruit-bearing, Spirit-filled Christian life (1 Cor. 13:13).

Hope motivates us to persevere in the face of sickness or tragedy. Hope is the fire that burns inside of us, igniting the desire to grasp the power in God’s promises. This flame is fed by the daily reading of and meditation upon the Scriptures. Every trouble in our lives finds its solution in a specific gem of Bible truth. Hope is the hand that catches these scintillating treasures and sets them firmly in the heart. As we wait for God’s fulfillment, our endurance will be tested, sometimes for hours, sometimes for years, but hope gives us the strength to be steadfast, no matter the duration or severity of our trial.

Assuredly, hope is the attribute that keeps our eyes turned toward heaven as we await the second coming of Jesus.