The Reading: Psalm 40:1-5
“I waited patiently for the Lord;” (v. 1) RSV
Patience is a virtue, so they say. In fact, according to Paul, patience is the fourth fruit of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience …” (Gal. 5:22).
In this Psalm David is praying for patience to endure a very sticky time in his life: “the desolate pit … the miry bog” (v.2). We don’t know exactly what period of his life is being referred to, but we probably recognise in our own lives that feeling, that the more we struggle the deeper in we sink. We can’t get a foothold to get on top of the situation.
David had several such periods, for instance, being hounded for years in the wilderness by jealous King Saul; or the affair with Bathsheba and the unexpected pregnancy followed by the ‘murder’ of her husband and then the death of the child; or the occasion when his son Absalom drove him out of Jerusalem and slept publicly with his concubines, followed by the untimely death of Absalom.
Sometimes David had to hold onto God in submissive patience. He trusted that sometime, hopefully not too far away, God would ‘return’ and save the day.
And he did! “He drew me up … and set my feet upon a rock. He put a new song in my mouth …” (vv. 2-3). In other words his circumstances changed, Saul committed suicide and he became king, and Bathsheba produced a second child: Solomon!
Our trials are an opportunity to learn trust and patience. The Spirit of God will teach us. As we take our eyes off the frustrations and hardships and focus on God, and as we learn to rejoice in all circumstances, so we will find the time will pass far more quickly.
Father, sometimes your hand is heavy upon me; teach me to rejoice in all circumstances, trusting patiently in you. Amen.
1 Who else was sinking and cried out for help?
2 Who sank in a bog and was later pulled out?
Jeremiah 38:6, 11-13