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1 and 2 Samuel Rising of the Kings

What does the Bible say about waiting upon God?

Paul J. Bucknell

Waiting Upon the Lord | Waiting & Planning | Steps to Waiting | Fail to Waiting
iblical Perspective on Waiting| Waiting for Ministry |Waiting for Revenge
Waiting for a Wife | Trusting through Treachery | Waiting for Christ's Return
Study Questions | Testimonies on Waiting Upon the Lord
| Godly Man Index


A careful study on what the Bible says about the theme 'waiting on God' or 'waiting upon God.'

Is waiting upon God biblical?

There are some teachings which we will at once say, "This is what we are suppose to do." But the fact is, we have never even looked over the biblical support for what we are doing or even asking others to do! Let us now do that with the phase 'waiting for God." We have two questions

  • What does the Bible say about waiting on God?
  • What does it practically mean?

What does the Bible say about waiting on God?

First of all we should recognize that there are many things people wait for in the scriptures. We see them waiting for some person or for the salvation of God. We will use some of these other usages to help define what it means to actually wait upon God.

In this section, however, we are focusing only on those verses that instruct us by example or precept that we ought to wait upon the Lord. Let's look at forty plus times the words 'waiting' upon God is used. The total list is at the bottom.

Firstly, we see that the phrase or notion of waiting upon God was new from David's time onward. The Psalms use it about 25 times while Isaiah 11 times. The other prophets scarcely used it. The NT follows that trend by rarely using the phrase 'wait upon.'

The phrase seems to have originated with David. He not only experienced great difficulty in his life but discovered that he could wait upon God for help. This is not to say Abraham didn't wait for a son or Moses for help for his people, but the thought wasn't so fully developed. Besides this, a depth of spiritual life could be expressed in the Psalms.

They enable us to look at a person's inner life. The historical biblical books just didn't describe this inner life experience. They looked at outward events rather than inward thoughts. The prophets at times did focus on the turmoil of the person, especially Isaiah and so we see this phrase scattered through these books.

The NT only uses the phrase referring to the second coming of Jesus. However, the phrase 'believe in' is very common, such as 'believe in the Lord.' But the meaning and emphasis of 'believe in' is quite different than 'waiting upon.' Believe and trust emphasize the confidence and faith in an object.

'Waiting for' definitely exudes this sense of confidence, but it is more than this. 'Waiting for' focuses on the sense of expectation one has on the object. When one 'waits on the Lord,' a person is dependent upon that person or something that the person will do. Below are the four major Hebrew words for 'waiting for.' Let's look at the ways the scriptures describe how God's people waited upon their Creator.

Wait for Thee (Thee refers to God, Lord).

Ps 25:3 Indeed, none of those who wait for Thee will be ashamed; Ps 25:5 Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, For Thou art the God of my salvation; For Thee I wait all the day.
Ps 25:21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for Thee.

Wait for the LORD ( refers to Yahweh).

Ps 27:14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong, and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Ps 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
Ps 37:7 Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Ps 37:9 For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.
Ps 37:34 Wait for the LORD, and keep His way, And He will exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
Pr 20:22 Do not say, "I will repay evil"; Wait for the LORD, and He will save you.
Isa 8:17 And I will wait for the LORD who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him.
Isa 40:31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Wait ... (for Thy Name, God, Him, etc.)

Ps 52:9 I will give Thee thanks forever, because Thou hast done it, And I will wait on Thy name, for it is good, in the presence of Thy godly ones.
Isa 49:23 And you will know that I am the LORD; Those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame.
Isa 64:4 For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, Neither has the eye seen a God besides Thee, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.
La 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.
Ho 12:6 Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.
Mic 7:7 But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.
Zep 3:8 "Therefore, wait for Me," declares the LORD, "For the day when I rise up to the prey...

New Testament and Waiting upon the Lord

Php 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
1Th 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.

What does wait upon God practically mean?

We have focused on waiting on God or the Lord above. But we must realize as these following verses indicate that they are waiting upon the Lord for something. Belief speaks about trust in. Waiting, however, usually focuses on some one to do something. In this case, they are waiting upon God to do some special thing. Let's take a look at a few verses below.

The Text The Phrase the Purpose
Isaiah 25:9 we have waited that He might save us
Psalm 104:27 They all wait for Thee To give them their food in due season
Psalm 106:13 They did not wait for His counsel
Psalm 119:43 For I wait for Thine ordinances
Psalm 119:81 I wait for Thy word
Isaiah 42:4 the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law
Lamentation 3:26 he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD
Genesis 49:18 I wait ... O LORD For Thy salvation
Jude 1:21 waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ

When we wait upon the Lord, we find ourselves looking to Him to help for some specific need. There is a conscious expectation that He will help us out in that special need. We do not have control over the circumstances and therefore are looking to His provisions, His protection, etc. In each case, though, it is good to notice our special need, recognize that He can help us in that area and then cast our hope in Him.

Waiting upon God is not only biblical but a necessary part of the Christian life for the growing Christian. "Wait for" is an active display of faith in God during impossible situations.