When “Waiting” is not just passing time.
Its a deliverance song like so many of them, but the emphasis very much on the writers relationship with God and the writers internal desire to have God transform him. The enemies make an appearance but they are not the emotional focus. The psalm should be called “deeper and deeper into god” because it takes each thought about God as a starting point for further expanded thoughts on the goodness of God.
1-3 has the familiar “I’m the worthy one, smight the unworthy” form. But the kingdom heartedness and the relative temperance of the language already subverts the revenge cliché with shafts of grace. The worthiness comes from trusting God and waiting for God, two very passive “good” qualities, which set up the gracious theme. And the evil trait of the enemies is “wanton treachery”, a depersonalised slight that is a crime against God’s revelation most of all. He calls for justice in shaming: may the proper people be ashamed. It’s a justice with the advancement of God’s kingdom at heart, and not a harsh justice.
Then the revenge theme is left alone altogether for a few verses with a section that expands on the idea of waiting for God as a personal spiritual journey.
“Waiting” is understanding God’s mind, his paths, being led by truth and learning from it.
He expresses regret over past sins, appealing to God’s character of solid love and mercy, generally and also specifically to him. It’s all God. He doesn’t even suggest “I’ll be good, so treat me right”. It’s all “you are good”. All we can give God is acknowledgement.
He expands further on the goodness and teaching of God. God leads, shows his path, we are sinners he forgives, the humble will learn goodness and see the godly way forward.
He speaks again of his great guilt, and the need to fear God. Fearing God is to trust his guidance, friendship and providence, keep your eyes on him even when you’re feet are stuck in a net.
This last image for me introduces an unexpected note of urgency into the song. Until now the enemies have be vague. Does the writer mean to say that all the while he’s been expanding and expanding on God’s mercy, it’s been an emergency?
It’s verse 15, for me is the defining image of the song. Reminds me of judee sills ” ridge rider”, his eyes on the horizon and his boots on the ground “
He then prays the prayer I would have prayed straight away in an emergency ” help, I’m all alone and things are terrible – many violent people hate me – deliver me!” Even so, his own struggle with godliness is more in the foreground than the immediate external threats.
How rich it is when he returns to his theme to conclude “may integrity and uprightness preserve me as I wait for you.”
He then prays that the whole of Israel will be delivered in the same way.
How true it is that when you feel pressured and panicky, and desperate for gods guidance, what seems like external issues is so often actually an internal struggle not to trust God. You pray for guidance like a shaft of wisdom to beam down and mcgyuver a specfic problem, but God’s answer is to be still and contemplate his goodness.