The LORD’s my saviour and my light— who will make me dismayed? The LORD’s the stronghold of my life— why should I be afraid?
When evildoers threaten me to take my life away, My adversaries and my foes will stumble in that day.
Although an army hems me in, my heart will feel no dread; Though war against me should arise, I will lift up my head.
One thing I’ll plead before the LORD, and this I’ll seek always: That I may come within God’s house and dwell there all my days—
That on the beauty of the LORD I constantly may gaze, And in his house may seek to know direction in his ways.
For in his dwelling he will keep me safe in troubled days; Within his tent he’ll shelter me, and on a rock me raise.
My head will then be lifted high above my enemies; And in his tent I’ll sacrifice with shouts of joy and praise.
LORD, hear me when I call to you; be merciful and speak! “Come, seek my face!” you told my heart; your face, LORD, I will seek.
O do not hide your face from me, and do not turn aside Your servant in your righteous wrath, for you have been my guide.
O God my Saviour, leave me not; do not reject my plea. My parents may forsake me, LORD, but you will welcome me.
Teach me, O LORD, how I should live, and lead me in your way; Make straight my path, because my foes oppress me every day.
Give me not over to the will of vehement enemies; For liars rise to slander me and breathe out cruelties.
Yet I am sure that in this life God’s goodness I will see. Wait for the LORD; be strong, take heart. For him wait patiently.
You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this to the tune Resignation here or to the tune Contemplation here.
Advent is a time of waiting. A time of waiting with longing. A time of waiting with anticipation. A children’s song, sung to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” illustrates this characteristic in the season of Advent:
Advent is a time to wait, Not quite time to celebrate.
Our Psalm today acknowledges that in our lives we often have to wait and live through difficult times. The passage highlights that the Psalmist, David, is living through some incredibly challenging times. It is thought that the Psalm was crafted during a period when David was on the run from King Saul who wanted to kill him. David was being pursued and oppressed.
We often spend periods in our life waiting. The student waits for exam results. The newly engaged couple wait for their wedding day. The young woman waits for medical test results. The older man waits for the outcome of an interview. Waiting is anticipating. Waiting is challenging.
Henri Nouwen spoke of a waiting person this way. “A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”
The Psalmist encourages us that when we find ourselves living through a challenging situation – we are able to reveal to God all the things that we are waiting for, all the things we are longing for, all the things we are anticipating. And in our waiting, God will meet us there. In our waiting, God is present. A God of faith, hope and love.
Advent God, in times of difficulty and challenge may we recognise your life-giving presence offering us faith, hope and love. In Emmanuel’s name, we pray. Amen.
Dr Nicola Robinson is a member and elder at Augustine United Church, Edinburgh.