Waiting for the Lord: Psalm 31 and Revelation 12
At the end of Psalm 31, David addresses “all you who are waiting” for the Lord to rescue you. The ESV translates,
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord! (Psa 31:24)
The phrase “you who wait” is a single word in Hebrew, a participle form of a verb that means to wait with the idea of hope or expectancy. In fact, other literal translations of this verse render the phrase, “all you who hope in the Lord” (NASB).
It’s the word that is used in Genesis 8:12 when Noah waited seven more days before sending forth the dove one final time. It’s the word used in the well-known declaration of Job, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15, ESV).
There’s a lot of hopeful waiting in Psalm 31. David begins by crying out for deliverance, refuge, and salvation (31:1–2). He feels like a bird caught in a net, from which God rescues him (31:4). He has known affliction and distress (31:7), grief, sorrow, sighing, and failing strength (31:8), and people were plotting even to take his life (31:13). Yet, in this psalm, each time that David expresses his trouble, he turns back to patient, waiting hope in the Lord. This cycle from trust to terror and back again to trust is illustrated in 31:21–23.
Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.
We see this same cycle in the rescue operation of God’s delivering his people in Revelation 12. The “woman” (Israel), flees into the wilderness to escape the dragon (Satan), where God prepares a place to protect her for 3.5 years (Rev 12:6). This same vignette seems to be repeated later in the chapter when the dragon pursues the woman who is given the wings of an eagle to escape to the wilderness to be nourished for 3.5 years (12:13–14). But then the dragon tries to overwhelm the woman with a flood, and again the Lord rescues her, causing the earth to open and swallow the flood (12:15–16). But even this does not stop the dragon’s fury, as he slithers away to seek other opportunities to destroy those who “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12:17).
This is a true picture of the believer’s life of faith. Trial-hope-rescue; trial-hope-rescue. We’re never promised long periods of respite. We’re never promised that we will not be caught, for a time, in the enemy’s net (Psa 31:4). But we are promised ultimate rescue from trouble. And during the period before the fulfillment of that promise is evident, we follow David’s example in Psalm 31. We wait, through God’s grace, with patient, obedient hope.
During this unusual time, many of us are having to wait on God to act on our behalf or on the behalf of others in ways we’ve not had to consider before. This is a time to really pray for one another, not only for rescue, but that we might truly be those who have learned to “wait for the Lord.”