Because of his strength will I wait on you: for God is my defense.
(with ver. 17): — "My strength! I will wait upon Thee," so says the psalmist in the midst of his troubles; and because he does so, he says at the end of the psalm, repeating his earlier vow, but with an alteration that means a great deal, "My strength! I will sing unto Thee." If you have waited, while in the middle of trouble, you will be sure to sing after it, and perhaps even during it.
I. THE THOUGHTS OF GOD THAT LIGHT UP THE DARKNESS. "My strength," "my tower," "the God of my mercy" — these are the thoughts which burn for this devout soul in the darkness of trouble. Notice, first, how that "my" is the very strength and nerve of the psalmist's confidence. It is not so much what he thinks God to be — though that is all important — as that he thinks that, whatever God is, He is it to him. "My defence, my strength; the God of my mercy" — who gives it to me, that is, the mercy that I need. And notice the happy reiteration indicative of assured possession, and blissful counting of one's wealth. With each repetition of the "my" there is a fresh outgoing of the heart in confidence, in conscious weakness, and in believing appropriation of God's strength a tightening of the fingers on his treasure. If we are in sorrow, let us say, "I will go unto God, my exceeding joy." If we are exposed to the hurtling of a whole flight of arrows of disaster, let us say, "I dwell in the pavilion where no calamity comes." If we are conscious of weakness, let us cast ourselves into those strong arms, and be sure that from their clasp there will come tingling into our feebleness the electric thrill of His almightiness, and that we, too, shall be able to "do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us." My strength, because I am weak; "my fortress," because I am assailed; "the God of my mercy," because I need His mercy.
II. WHAT SUCH VIEWS OF GOD HEARTEN A MAN TO DO. "My strength, I will wait upon Thee," says the first of our texts. "I will look unto Him " is, perhaps, nearer the meaning of the words than the "wait" of our version. If these three blessed thoughts, "my strength, my tower, the God of my mercy," are uppermost in our heart, there will be the fixed attitude and eye of expectancy. Did you ever see a dog sitting and looking up into its master's face, waiting for a morsel to be cast, that it might snap at it and swallow it? That is a very homely illustration of the way in which Christian men should sit and look at God. If He is "my strength," and "my tower," and if "my mercy" comes from Him, then no attitude befits me except that of such gazing expectancy and steadfast direction of mind and heart to Him, "My strength, I will watch Thee." And there should be, too, not only expectancy in the look, but patience, and not only expectancy and patience, but submission. Stand before Him, waiting to know what is to be done by you with the strength that He gives, and how the mercy that He inbreathes is to be expressed and manifested in your life. This waiting should be the fixed attitude and posture of our spirits. The psalmist had to make a definite resolution to look away to God, for there was a great deal that tempted him to look elsewhere. He says, "I will wait," and the original conveys very strongly the idea of his having to set his teeth, as it were, in the effort to keep himself quiet and waiting before God. If we look to Him we are kept up, and we are kept right; but it takes all our will-power, and it needs a very resolute effort if we are not to be forced out of the attitude of faith and to let our eyes turn to alarmed gazing at the stormy seas. Without such effort we shall be weakened by looking at the foes and not at the fortress, at the difficulties and inward weakness and not at our strength, but we shall find the means of making this effort after steadfastness of expectant gaze in faithful remembrance of the great Name of the Lord, our strength and our fortress.
III. WHAT COMES OF THIS WAITING. He that began with saying, "O my strength, I will wait upon Thee," ends with saying, "O my strength, I will sing praises unto Thee." That is to say, away in the future there lies the certainty that all will end in thankfulness and rapture of praise-giving, and in the present, whilst the attitude of watchfulness has to be kept up, and evils and dangers are still round us, there may glow in our hearts a quiet assurance as to how they are all going to end, and how for the waiting in the present there will be substituted glad praise in the future. Into the midst of winter we can bring summer. We can live by hope, we can say, "To-day I will watch, tomorrow I shall praise." And because to-morrow we shall praise, there will be some praise mingling with the watchfulness of to-day. Let us do the one now, and at last we shall do the other. Do the one, and even in the doing of it the other will begin. The waiting and the praising are twins, the one a trifle older than the other. "Unto Thee, my strength, will I look," and even now the waiting soul may have a song, feeble perhaps and broken, like the twitter of birds when the east wind blows and the clouds are low in the early spring, but which will mellow and swell into fuller rapture when the dark, ungenial days are overpast.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence.