Worth the Wait - Man as Instructor

And the Philistines yet again made a raid in the valley. And when David again inquired of God, God said to him, “You shall not go up after them; go around and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.” And David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer. And the fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations. -- 1 Chronicles 14:13-17 ESV
Waiting is tough to do in a military context. American soldiers have had to learn the discipline of waiting from the beginning. During the American War for Independence, at the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Americans had limited ammunition and were vastly outnumbered by 3,000 British soldiers. Consequently, as the British advanced, American Col. Israel Putnam charged his men not to fire “until you can see the whites of their eyes.”[1] Given the inaccuracy of their 18th-century muskets, the closer the enemy came into range, the better the odds were of hitting them. Yet, waiting for the right moment to fire took an incredible amount of discipline. Although the superior British forces eventually dislodged the Americans, the British “victory” was costly. In fact, British casualties outnumbered those of the Americans by more than a two-to-one margin. Waiting paid off.

 David experienced several seasons in which he learned to wait on the Lord. In our Scripture passage, he had just ascended to the throne of Israel, yet opposition and danger were ever-present. His response to the threat began as ours should: David asked the Lord for direction, then immediately responded in obedience to the voice of God. Following quickly on the heels of one Philistine attack came another. David inquired of the Lord again. In this case, God instructed David to wait for a sign and act following His detailed instructions. Waiting for God’s prompting was crucial, and when David saw God’s sign, David launched his army to attack, and they experienced victory. 

 God’s instructions often involve waiting. My mother frequently said to me as she was teaching me about the ways of the Lord that God answers all prayers: He will say YES, NO, or WAIT. Now I understand what she meant, but I cannot say that I like being told to wait.
 From God’s instruction to Noah to build an ark and wait for the flood (Gen. 6-8) to Jesus telling His disciples to wait for the Comforter to come (John 16:5-15), there are times when God says to wait. There is no room for inserting our own timeline, no “jumping the gun.” We must respond by waiting until God says, “Go!” These moments when we wait on the Lord and then see Him deliver can become powerful examples for us to use as Instructors. The message: God’s timing must be trusted!

 When that moment comes, we must live clean, close, and spiritually observant enough to respond immediately and faithfully to the Lord when we hear the “rustling in the balsam trees.” As it was with David, it is true of us: others are counting on us to guide and protect them not only in this moment but also for their future. It is vitally important for the man of God to instill in his children and grandchildren the wisdom of waiting on the Lord, listening for the Lord, and obeying the voice of the Lord. Men, we need to claim the truth of one of my favorite verses in Isaiah: “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31 ESV). Waiting on the Lord is worth it!
  • Can you reflect upon the moments in your life when your willingness to wait in obedience to God’s timing brought great blessing? Can you think of a time when you jumped the gun and it resulted in a mess? 
  • How are you purposefully passing along the insight and wisdom of developing the discipline of waiting on the Lord, an ear that hears God’s voice, and a heart that obeys God’s instruction? 
  • Ask the Lord to help you develop the discipline to wait on Him and then teach your children and grandchildren how to do the same. 
   [1] Elijah Parish, Oration at Byfield (Newburyport, CT: Angier, 1800), 15.