It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.…
Whether it was Jeremiah himself after he had taken refuge in a grotto near the Damascus gate of Jerusalem, or as he stood over against the city in an attitude of grief which a great artist has immortalised, or a godly man of the next generation, who poured out this dirge over the miseries of his country, it makes very little difference in regard to the abiding value of the words, and therefore also to their ever-recurring usefulness. They come from a very remote past, stamped with the finger of God; and they contain a bit of wisdom, in favour of which might be quoted probably the whole experience of our race.
I. Apart from the actual contents of such a statement, beneath it and running through it there is clearly implied AN INTENSE CONVICTION THAT GOD RULES THIS WORLD, AND THAT HE RULES IT IN THE INTERESTS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. In verses like the 37th and the 64th, such a conviction finds vigorous expression: And it is still true that, in order to bear mystery and sorrow in peace and without any serious disturbance of thought or spirit, a man cannot do better than cling to these fundamental truths. Nature in some of their moods will have made most men feel, in the certainty of her processes, the inerrancy with which her life unfolds in ever higher forms of fitness and beauty, that, —
The whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.History, too, if it reveals anything, reveals the throne of God above the nations, and methods of government by which in the long run righteousness is always vindicated. And unless conscience is to be regarded as inexplicable, a haunting mystery whose immortal sanctions are simply meaningless, there must be in this world, and over it, a living and active God, the primary source of all pure morals, whose rule in everything makes for righteousness. It is not possible, indeed, always to see that such is the case. For human experience is full of discords.
1. Occasionally all that men can do, in the assaults of doubt to which they are inclined to give no place, is to cry unto God with the prophet, "Verily, Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour," and then the old assurance comes back, solving all difficulties, charming every doubt away: "That the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Therefore "I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him."
2. It is not difficult to determine the effect upon the feelings and state of heart that ought in reason to follow this conviction and to be produced by it. Here is a God whose rule is righteous, so absolutely righteous that under His rule men always reap the fruit of their own ways. Just as, therefore, disaster must overtake the wicked, salvation must come to the God-fearing man. Again, therefore, he may venture to regard it as certain, and, however unlikely it seems, to hope and quietly to wait for it. What particular form the salvation assumes is of little importance, provided it is one which relates to the real interests of the soul.
3. But this important little word "quietly" must not be overlooked. There are some qualities or possible accompaniments of hope that altogether spoil it, and make it anything rather than a minister to comfort and salvation. Of these undesirable companions, the worst are perhaps impatience and suspense, for indifference, as being almost the negation of hope and fatal to vigour, need not be considered. Impatient hope, weary of slow process and gradual growth, eager to grasp the prize before it has been fairly earned, and to pluck the fruit before the sun and the showers have had time to ripen it — it is met with often enough in the ordinary life. Most Christians will have found themselves disposed now and again to complain that the influences of grace have not more quickly perfected them, that the first brief prayer has not been followed by the flight of every temptation. The Divine rule is, alike for peace and for progress in religion, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." God's care for His people, His effective interference for their protection and safety, the completion of the work that is being done by His sanctifying Spirit, — these things, as far as the Operation of His grace is concerned, do not admit of any doubt. "Hope quietly" — that is, without any excitement and with full confidence of success. The salvation of the Lord is certain; and accordingly the prophet bids us treat it as certain, not worry or make a noise about our difficulties, but go steadily on day after day, doing our duty, making the best of our troubles, strangers to fear.
4. That, says the prophet, is "good" for a man — which word, in his usage, which is not unlike the modern ethical usage, denotes the blessed combination of dutifulness and personal satisfaction. In this verse almost every phrase implies the possession of some main element of happiness. He who hopes "quietly for the salvation of the Lord" will be tranquil in spirit, exercising self-control, will have the sense of security and the knowledge that a God is caring for him and is gradually disciplining him into Godlikeness; and it is no wonder the prophet pronounced that to be good for a man.
II. Jeremiah did not feel any necessity to limit and qualify his advice, or to exclude any section of a sincere life from its application. It sets forth therefore THE ATTITUDE WHICH A CHRISTIAN MAN MAY VENTURE TO MAINTAIN UNIFORMLY TOWARDS MATTERS THAT MAY BE A SOURCE OF PERPLEXITY TO ALL, AND ALSO TOWARDS THOSE WHICH ONLY HIS OWN TEMPERAMENT OR HIS OWN TENDENCIES OF THOUGHT MAKE ALARMING. Not least of all does it apply to the controversies concerning Church and faith, scripture and doctrine, which because of their complexity are apt to be invested with needless terrors, and because of their connection with personal religion seem sometimes to threaten and imperil the most sacred convictions.
1. With respect to the unexaggerated difficulties in doctrine or in organisation that do exist, such questions as those of inspiration, of the authorship of various parts of the Old Testament and its bearing upon the authority of the New, of the relationships of the Churches and the methods of worship, this verse prescribes the way in which we should regard them — not shut our eyes to their existence, or be frightened at them but "hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord."
2. With the political and social problems of the day, the cares of enterprise, and of children and home, the perpetual disappointments and troubles that are crowded into every man's life, the same rule holds good, that Christian men should not worry, or despond, or doubt, but remember the throne of God over all, and quietly wait for His salvation. If obedience to that rule is not always easy, it is always reasonable and a blessed ministry of strength and peace. Few troubles continue unendurable, when a man knows that through them the grace of God will be with him, and that after them will come such a blessed and permanent reversal of experience as will more than compensate for all.
(R. Waddy Moss.)
Parallel VersesKJV: It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.