Ways of waiting

Psalm 130 is all about waiting eagerly, in hope; “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning”.

The word translated ‘wait’ here is ‘qawal’ and the root of it is ‘to long for’; the sense is to wait for something you know will happen. David says he is putting his trust in God’s word which He will not go back on. So David can confidently wait for God’s intervention.

There are several Hebrew and Greek words in Biblical texts which are all translated by the same English word ‘wait’.

(By the way, it is worth getting a good concordance which lists words alphabetically like a dictionary. Alongside each one is a number, and at the back of the book you will find the corresponding Hebrew or Greek word, its root meaning, and other usages.)

A slightly sinister word is ‘tsedah’, the root meaning of which is to do with hunting, and it is used when someone is lying in wait. Another, ‘arab’ has a similar meaning, used to describe someone lurking, waiting in ambush. There is a word, ‘shamar’ which carries in it a sense of waiting watchfully, cautiously, to see what will happen. ‘Yachal’ means to wait in hope, as does ‘shabar’. This is used in psalm 104 v27 “These all look to you to give them their food…”, a sense of creation waiting in dependence upon God to sustain and nurture it.

Then there is a word, ‘duwmam’, which has at its root to be dumb, in other words to wait silently, as in Lamentations 3 v26: “It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Another very vivid one is ‘chakar’, which has in its roots the idea of adhering, sticking to, and is used in Habakkuk 2v3, “Though the vision lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come!” Isn’t that graphic imagery?

Don’t give up on the promises of God: stick to them like glue, they will be fulfilled!

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