Next, let’s take a quick look at the key words used in Scripture in connection with this subject.
Old Testament Words Used
In the NASB the word most often translated “wait” in the sense of waiting on the Lord is the Hebrew qavah.Qavah means (1) “to bind together” (perhaps by twisting strands as in making a rope), (2) “look patiently,” (3) “tarry or wait,” and (4) “hope, expect, look eagerly.”
The second most frequently used word translated “wait” is yachal. Yachal means “to wait,” or “hope, wait expectantly,” and is so translated in our English Bibles. The KJV sometimes translates yachal as “trust” as in Isaiah 51:5, but the NASB has “wait expectantly” and the NIV “wait in hope.”
A third word sometimes translated “wait” is damam. Damam means “to be dumb, grow silent, be still,” but it is sometimes translated “wait, tarry, rest” (cf. Psa. 62:5 KJV).
A fourth word for waiting is chakah, “to wait, tarry,” or “long for” (cf. Ps. 33:20; 106:13; Isa. 30:18).
The Old Testament emphasis is clearly on the daily walk and the need to wait on the Lord and His providential care in the pressures of life. As we will see, in the New Testament, the focus is on the promise of Christ’s return. The emphasis, however, in most contexts where the words for waiting occur, is on the impact waiting on the Lord’s return should have on our daily walk.
New Testament Words Used
Prosdechomai is the primary word used in the New Testament for the concept of waiting. It is a compound word from pros, “to or towards” and dechomai, “receive, accept.” Prosdechomai means (1) “to receive to one’s self, receive favorably,” (2) “expect, look for, wait for.”2 Compare its use in Mark 15:43; Luke 2:25; 12:36; Acts 24:15;Titus 2:13; Jude 1:21. The focus of this word is on the coming of the Lord in either His first or second advents.
The second most frequently used word is apekdechomai, a triple compound word made up of two prepositions, apo, “from,” and ek, “out,” and the verb dechomai, “receive, accept.” It means “to await, expect eagerly.”3 Compare its use in Romans 8:19, 23, 25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 9:20. Again, the waiting here is primarily prophetic of the return of the Lord and the glorious blessings that will follow.
The other word translated “wait” in the New Testament is anameno. Literally, it means to wait up as a parent might wait up for a child to come home. It means “to await one whose coming is expected, perhaps with the added idea of patience and confidence.”4 This word is used only once and, again, it is used of the return of the Lord (1 Thess. 1:10).
[Some additional symbolism of the word "waiting" can be seen through the Jewish bride after the betrothal and before the bridegroom returns. She is to keep herself in constant readiness, clean, perfumed, attractive, ready for her bridegroom at all times for she knows not in what hour her bridegroom cometh. The friend of the bridegroom keeps everyone informed, letting she and her friends knows how the mansion of His Father is coming along.]
With these words in mind, let’s look at what waiting means in terms of some practical concepts. Each of these points are like strands woven into a rope which add strength in the process of waiting.
Waiting Necessitates the Passage of Time
When the psalmist wrote in Psalm 130:5-6: “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning,” he was comparing waiting expectantly on the Lord to the night guards of the city who watched the passage of time in anticipation of the coming dawn when they would be released from duty. The coming of the dawn was certain, but not without the passage of time. In our “I want it now generation” we must understanding and accept the fact that waiting on the Lord always involves the passage of time just as it does when we are waiting for the news, a special TV program, for a plane to arrive, or for retirement. Waiting on the Lord inevitably means enduring the passage of time, but it means more, much more.
Waiting Means Confident Expectation
That waiting includes the concept of hope is why the Hebrew word qavah is sometimes translated “hope” or “look expectantly,” and why yacha, which means “to wait” can mean either “wait” or “hope.” WAITING and HOPING are wound together like the strands of a rope.
Compare again Psalm 130:5-6. 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. When we, like the guards of the city, wait for the morning, we are waiting for more than simply time to pass. We are waiting for the sun to rise and day to break, for the light to replace the darkness, and the cold to be replaced with the warmth of the sun. We wait on His will.
Waiting involves an expectation of something special. Waiting means anticipation, expectation, confident hope in something that will take place. Ultimately, waiting on the Lord is like waiting on the sun to rise—waiting expectantly for the Lord’s answers to human needs as the sun brings the warmth of the day.
This naturally leads us to our next point and the third strand in our rope which adds more strength...