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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Isaiah 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.


Adam Clarke Commentary

They shall mount zap with wings as eagles "They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle" - It has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigor to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth. "Thou shalt renew thy youth like the eagle, "says the psalmist, Psalm 103:5; on which place St. Ambrose notes, Aquila longam aetatem ducit, dum, vetustis plumis fatiscentibus, nova pennarum successione juvenescit: "The eagle lives to a very advanced age; and in moulting his youth is renewed with his new feathers." Phile, De Animalibus, treating of the eagle, and addressing himself to the emperor Michael Palaeologus junior, raises his compliment upon the same notion: -

Τουτου συ, βασιλευ, τον πολυν ζωοις βιον,��<-144 �Αει νεουργων, και κρατυνων την φυσινπ .

"Long may'st thou live, O king; still like the eagle

Renew thy youth, and still retain thy vigor."

To this many fabulous and absurd circumstances are added by several ancient writers and commentators on Scripture; see Bochart, Hieroz. 2 ii. 1. Rabbi Saadias says, Every tenth year the eagle flies near the sun; and when not able any longer to bear the burning heat, she falls down into the sea, and soon loses her feathers, and thus renews her vigor. This she does every tenth year till the hundredth, when, after she has ascended near the sun, and fallen into the sea, she rises no more. How much proof do such stories require! Whether the notion of the eagle's renewing his youth is in any degree well founded or not, I need not inquire; it is enough for a poet, whether profane or sacred, to have the authority of popular opinion to support an image introduced for illustration or ornament. - L


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-40.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But they that wait upon the Lord - The word rendered ‹wait upon‘ here (from קוה qâvâh ), denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‹to wait on Yahweh,‘ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him. It is applicable to those who are in circumstances of danger or want, and who look to him for his merciful interposition. Here it properly refers to those who were suffering a long and grievous captivity in Babylon, and who had no prospect of deliverance but in him. The phrase is applicable also to all who feel that they are weak, feeble, guilty, and helpless, and who, in view of this, put their trust in Yahweh. The promise or assurance here is general in its nature, and is as applicable to his people now as it was in the times of the captivity in Babylon. Religion is often expressed in the Scriptures by ‹waiting on Yahweh,‘ that is, by looking to him for help, expecting deliverance through his aid, putting trust in him (see Psalm 25:3, Psalm 25:5, Psalm 25:21; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 37:7, Psalm 37:9, Psalm 37:34; Psalm 69:3; compare Isaiah 8:17, note; Isaiah 30:18, note).

It does not imply inactivity, or want of personal exertion; it implies merely that our hope of aid and salvation is in him - a feeling that is as consistent with the most strenuous endeavors to secure the object, as it is with a state of inactivity and indolence. Indeed, no man can wait on God in a proper manner who does not use the means which he has appointed for conveying to us his blessing. To wait on him without using any means to obtain his aid, is to tempt him; to expect miraculous interposition is unauthorized, and must meet with disappointment. And they only wait on him in a proper manner who expect his blessing in the common modes in which he imparts it to men - in the use of those means and efforts which he has appointed, and which he is accustomed to bless. The farmer who should wait for God to plow and sow his fields, would not only be disappointed, but would be guilty of provoking Him. And so the man who waits for God to do what he ought to do; to save him without using any of the means of grace, will not only be disappointed, but will provoke his displeasure.

Shall renew their strength - Margin, ‹Change.‘ The Hebrew word commonly means to change, to alter; and then to revive, to renew, to cause to flourish again, as, e. g., a tree that has decayed and fallen down (see the note at Isaiah 9:10; compare Job 14:7). Here it is evidently used in the sense of renewing, or causing to revive; to increase, and to restore that which is decayed. It means that the people of God who trust in him shall become strong in faith; able to contend with their spiritual foes, to gain the victory over their sins, and to discharge aright the duties, and to meet aright the trials of life. God gives them strength, if they seek him in the way of his appointment - a promise which has been verified in the experience of his people in every age.

They shall mount up with wings as eagles - Lowth translates this ‹They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle;‘ and in his note on the passage remarks, that ‹it has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigor to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth.‘ He supposes that the passage in Psalm 103:5, ‹So that thy youth is renewed like the eagles,‘ refers to this fact. That this was a common and popular opinion among the ancients, is clearly proved by Bochart (Hieroz. ii. 2. 1. pp. 165-169). The opinion was, that at stated times the eagle plunged itself in the sea and cast off its old feathers, and that new feathers started forth, and that thus it lived often to the hundredth year, and then threw itself in the sea and died. In accordance with this opinion, the Septuagint renders this passage, ‹They shall put forth fresh feathers ( πτεροφυήσουσιν pterophuēsousin ) like eagles.‘ Vulgate, Assument pennas sicut aquiloe.

The Chaldee renders it, ‹They who trust in the Lord shall be gathered from the captivity, and shall increase their strength, and renew their youth as a germ which grows up; upon wings of eagles shall they run and not be fatigued.‘ But whatever may be the truth in regard to the eagle, there is no reason to believe that Isaiah here had any reference to the fact that it moults in its old age. The translation of Lowth was derived from file Septuagint, and not from the Hebrew text. The meaning of the Hebrew is simply, ‹they shall ascend on wings as eagles,‘ or ‹they shall lift up the wings as eagles;‘ and the image is derived from the fact that the eagle rises on the most vigorous wing of any bird, and ascends apparently further toward the sun. The figure, therefore, denotes strength and vigor of purpose; strong and manly piety; an elevation above the world; communion with God, and a nearness to his throne - as the eagle ascends toward the sun.

They shall run and not be weary - This passage, also, is but another mode of expressing the same idea - that they who trust in God would be vigorous, elevated, unwearied; that he would sustain and uphold them; and that in his service they would never faint. This was at first designed to be applied to the Jews in captivity in Babylon to induce them to put their trust in God. But it is as true now as it was at that time. It has been found in the experience of thousands and tens of thousands, that by waiting on the Lord the heart has been invigorated; the faith has been confirmed; and the affections have been raised above the world. Strength has been given to bear trial without complaining, to engage in arduous duty without fainting, to pursue the perilous and toilsome journey of life without exhaustion, and to rise above the world in hope and peace on the bed of death.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-40.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength--

Strength for the returning exiles

There was a real climax in the prophet’s statement.
And its application, in his thought, was to the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. God’s helpfulness would be adequate to their needs in all the stages of their return. In the first flush of joy, and in the first flights of eager anticipation, “on which we see them rising in the psalms of redemption as on the wings of an eagle”; again, in the rush and excitement of their hurried departure, the running to and fro in hasty and exhausting preparation; but finally, when they wanted it most, in the long tramp, tramp, tramp of those seven hundred weary miles, day after day, week after week, when their pace must be adapted to those of the heavily-laden beasts of burden, and of the little ones whose strength would often fail and who would need to be lifted up and carried in the father’s arms. How often on that tiresome journey would the sweet music of the prophet’s words return to their memory, “they shall walk and not faint.” Then it was that their trust in Jehovah would be put fully to the proof. It was in the walking and not in the flying that their faith would triumph
. (J. Halsey.)

The Gospel of the Exile

I. This is THE GOSPEL OF THE EXILE the “Gospel before the Gospel” (Cheyne); the good news of the swift accession of power and deliverance to the Jewish people, humiliated, dispirited, and tired out by monotonously waiting in their Babylonian captivity for a long-delayed good.

II. Like all Gospels, THIS GOSPEL OF THE EXILE IS GOD’S. Every true prophet’s great appeal is, “Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard” of God! The whole air rings with His name. The universe is lit up with His glory. The stars speak His power. In His ceaseless activity, fatherly solicitude, and unsleeping watchfulness for His people, He fainteth not, nor is weary. The Exile is not a mistake. You are not in the wrong school. He knows what He is doing. There is no searching of His understanding. Believe in Him, wait on Him, wait for Him, and you will become younger and stronger than ever. So God in His loving care for, and constant education of souls, is the Alpha and Omega of this whole Gospel for captive Israel. We cannot have any good news for any age, or for any people, or for any soul, without Him. All flesh is aa grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the revelation of the inexhaustible God liveth and abideth for ever. The strength of God is the salvation of men.

III. Like all Divine evangels, THIS GOOD NEWS FOR THE CAPTIVES OF BABYLON IS ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY TO A SPECIAL NEED, AND ADAPTED BY ITS FORM TO EFFECT A PARTICULAR RESULT, namely, that of patient endurance of acute affliction. The Gospel is for men and women who have lost their strength in living, and are losing it more and more, day by day, till they fear its utter extinction by the presence of thickening despairs, and the ceaseless gnawing of spiritual fibre by silent misery and unutterable grief. Nothing tires like hopelessness. Nothing makes the heart sick like long delays. Unto them, therefore, is the word of this salvation sent. “Wait for God.” “Wait upon the Lord.” “Trust in Him at all times.” He will come. He cannot help coming, His nature urges Him towards you with all the tenderness of His love, and all the helpfulness of His omnipotence. Faith in God takes multitudinous forms in the long story of the soul’s life with God. It is a Divine law on which this direction rests. God must be waited for. We cannot anticipate Him. While the soil is frozen and hard we cannot compel the crop; we wait for the spring. The farmer of the Nile waits till the waters rise and then casts his bread upon them, hoping to see his harvest after many days. There is a time for growth, and we must take facts according to God’s plan. Even young men faint in the conflict because they will not wait for God. Defeated and overwhelmed with despair you say, “It avails nothing, I am no forwarder to-day than I was last week, I am as far from the kingdom of God as ever; my passions are as wild, my mind as untameable as it was when I started for a better and manlier life.” Recall Moses. Did he not in his impatience lift up the standard of freedom forty years too soon? But is not waiting for God cowardly indolence and fatalistic apathy? Cowardly indolence, indeed! Nothing will more test any fibre you’ve got!

IV. Like all Gospels from the heavens, THIS ONE FOR THE HEBREW EXILES OBTAINED ITS FULL AND COMPLETE VERIFICATION FROM THE UNCONTRADICTED FACTS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE. The captive people waited for God and on God, and they did not wait in vain. The ransomed of the Lord returned: but the return was the least good they received, and deliverance their smallest boon. Grace and strength came by the prophets and by prayer in unbroken continuity, and fresh gifts of power and light and zeal and joy enlarged and enriched their lives. They were born again. They renewed their youth, and became a regenerated, pure, missionary people; found Babylon a better school than Jerusalem, and the severities and perils of captivity a healthier discipline than the luxuries and security of freedom. The sevenfold blessing of the Exile stands written in the unimpeachable Chronicles of Israel, and the world.

1. First and most distinctive of the gains of the Jews from their captivity, stands their advanced and perfected knowledge of God. The Divine idea was lifted above all the restrictions of race and locality to the throne of the universe; the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob was recognised as the Saviour of the ends of the earth. We fret and chafe in our sufferings and under our chastisements, when to patience and meekness the God of all comfort comes with His sweetest and most refreshing revelations.

2. Next comes up out of the Exile the more definitely shaped and clearly conceived image of the Anointed of the Lord, the Daysman or Mediator, the Lord our Righteousness, the Herald of a New Covenant, the suffering and conquering Servant of God, who is to realise the ideal Jerusalem, and bring a new heaven and a new earth.

3. Fired by this hope of a personal Redeemer, and controlled by a spiritual conception of Jehovah, the worship of God entered on that final spiritual phase which has never been wholly eclipsed, though it has suffered, and still suffers, many painful obscurations.

4. Bound up with this we see the generation of a higher ethic; the birth of a nobler conception of life, as the sphere for rightness of aim and righteousness of character. Through this gate of tribulation Israel enters into the kingdom of holiness.

5. The temporary limitations and restrictions of Israel being annulled, it is forthwith lifted into the stream of universal history, never to be taken out again. It is proved that Hebraism can exist without a temple and without a priest, without an altar and without a land, without anything or anybody save the soul and God.

6. With glowing ardour and intense enthusiasm these elect souls go forth on this service, seeking to establish a knowledge of the true God, urging the heathen to accept the light they enjoy, and sharing with them as proselytes the peace and prosperity, brought by truth and righteousness. The missionary spirit, as well as the missionary idea, glows and throbs in the oracles and songs which represent the highest thought and the purest emotion of this time.

7. This was completed by the enlargement and recension of that unique and marvellous missionary agent, the Old Testament literature, so splendidly enriched with some of its most pathetic and consolatory contributions, so carefully transcribed and sacredly guarded by the “Scribes,” who started into existence in these days; and so diligently pondered by those choice spirits who had learnt to sigh for God as their exceeding joy, and to serve Him as their chief delight. It was the Great Missionary Book. “Salvation is of the Jews.” Believe it, then; exhausted men get fresh strength by trustful longing for God; renew their spiritual energy, their faith in goodness, their power for selfsacrificing work, for fleet-footed missions of mercy, by waiting on God and for God. It is history, and actual experience.

V. This GOSPEL, LIKE ALL ITS FELLOWS, NEVER DIES. It endures for ever and ever as a living message, not effete though old, not wasted though abundantly used, but partaking of the unwearied energy and eternal reproductiveness of its infinite source. Man’s wants are too diverse to be met by any one messenger. God speaks at sundry times, and by different voices; but no voice ever dies out, no message is ever wholly lost, and if not for one soul, yet for another and another, it is quick and powerful, renewing faith, and hope, and zeal. (J. Clifford, D. D.)

Waiting upon God

I. A DUTY SUGGESTED.

1. We are reminded of the solemn and formal acts of devotion, as implied in the words--“wait upon the Lord.”

2. The words of the text are descriptive of the state and exercises of the mind; of the feelings and aspirations of the heart in Divine worship. They imply--

II. WE ARE ASSURED OF THE BENEFIT RESULTING FROM THE DISCHARGE OF THIS DUTY. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,” or change their strength; its measure shall be adapted to their different claims.

1. The Christian’s strength may fail amid the many trials and temptations of life, and its revival become necessary. The soul may lose its energy, its decision of purpose, its promptitude of action, its confidence in God, and become weak, irresolute, and fearful.

2. Our situation may demand additional strength. We may be summoned to a post of great responsibility, to the performance of arduous duty.

3. Where are we to obtain this power,--this reviving of strength?

4. With pleasure contemplate the animating result of this renewal of strength. In conclusion, our text suggests

Waiting upon the Lord

I. WHAT IT IS TO WAIT UPON THE LORD. Three things make it: service, expectation, patience. We must be as those Eastern maidens, who as they ply their needle or their distaff, look to the eye and wait upon the hand of their mistress, as their guide which is to teach them, or their model which they are to copy. Our best lessons are always found in a Father’s eye. “Therefore if you would wait upon the Lord, you must be always looking out for voices--those still small voices of the soul,--and you must expect them, and you must command them.” But service, however devoted, or expectation, however intense, will not be waiting without patience. Here is where so many fail.

II. THE ACTION. Elevation, rapid progress, a steady course--soar, run, walk. Is it not just what we want--to get higher, to go faster, and to be more calmly consistent?

1. Elevation. What are the wings? Beyond a doubt, faith, prayer; or, if you will, humility and confidence in a beautiful equipoise, balancing one another on either side, so that the soul sustains itself in mid-air and flies upward.

2. The servants of God in the Bible--from Abraham and David to Philip in the Acts--whenever they were told to do anything, always ran. It is the only way to do anything well. A thousand irksome duties become easy and pleasant if we do them with a ready mind, an affectionate zeal, and a happy alacrity.

3. To maintain a quiet sustained walk, day by day, in the common things of life, in the house and out of the house, not impulsive, not capricious, not changeable,--that is the hardest thing to do. Let me give four rules for this walk:

Communion with God

I. THE SECRET OF LIFE’S POWER.

II. THE SUPPORT OF LIFE’S JOURNEY. “They shall run,” etc.

III. THE BASIS OF LIFE’S EXALTATION. They shall “mount up,” etc. (J. T.Harwood.)

Waiting upon the Lord

I. THE DUTY HERE RECOMMENDED. “Waiting upon the Lord.” This expression may include many acts of the mind, but the connection of the words shows that here it principally refers to prayer. Waiting on the Lord implies--

1. A sense of our own weakness, and our need of Divine help.

2. A persuasion of the power and goodness of God; His readiness to stretch out His almighty hand to help us, amidst the difficulties, infirmities, and temptations to which we are exposed.

3. That Divine help is to be sought by prayer.

4. If we hope for His interposition, we are to be diligent in the use of those means which He hath appointed, and to which He hath promised His blessing.

II. THE ENCOURAGEMENT GIVEN. Such devout, humble souls shall “renew their strength.” They shall grow more steady and established in religion. They shall find a supply of Divine help proportioned to their trials. As their work and their difficulty are renewed, so shall the vigour of their souls be renewed. How far this strength shall operate, and what noble effects it shall produce, may be seen by the following words.

III. WAITING UPON GOD HATH IN ITSELF A NATURAL TENDENCY TO ESTABLISH AND STRENGTHEN THE SOUL. It promoteth that humility which is our greatest security, and restrains that pride which goeth before a fall. It will also lead us to exert our best endeavours, and put forth all our own strength, as we would not be chargeable with the guilt of affronting God by asking His help without them. The nature of the blessed God strengthens this encouragement. Therefore the prophet had suggested to Israel this thought, that “the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.” His power is vast and unbounded, and nothing is too hard for Him. His understanding is infinite; there is no searching it. Therefore He can never be puzzled with any difficulties, but must know how in every possible case to deliver the godly out of their temptations. Consider also His promises and His covenant. (Job Orton.)

The encouragement of true worshippers

Nothing can give a better conception of the strength and the weakness of human nature, than by comparing what man has done in subduing the material powers by which God has surrounded him, and in providing for his own temporal comfort, and his utter helplessness in those things which relate to the life of the soul. When he has to contend with the powers of nature, he is strong and victorious; but when he has to contend with the powers of spiritual wickedness, and with his own ungodly desires, he is helpless. The lord of nature, he is the slave of sin. The helplessness of man in spiritual things is a disease for which no remedy has been discovered, and for which no remedy ever will be discovered but that which the Word of God points out.

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY WAITING UPON THE LORD? Waiting upon God is a duty very frequently enforced in Scripture, and to which the highest blessings are annexed. “Because of His strength,” says the Psalmist, “I will wait upon Him, for God is my defence.” “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart.” “Our soul waiteth for the Lord; He is our help and shield.” “Wait on the Lord,” says Solomon, “and He shall save thee.” “Keep mercy and judgment,” says the prophet Hosea, “and wait on thy God continually.” It is an expression peculiar to the Old Testament; but in the New Testament the same duty is repeatedly inculcated, though in different language. The precept is the same in substance with the exhortation of St. Paul, “Be ye followers of God, as dear children”; or with that of St. James, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” The expression denotes a feeling of need, and a sense of dependence upon the Almighty, without whom nothing is strong or holy. For one to wait upon another implies inferiority, and a desire of protection and assistance. In many circumstances we require the protection and assistance of our fellow-creatures, but in all circumstances we require the protection and assistance of our Creator. He is ever ready to extend to us that protection and help without which we are powerless and defenceless. But He requires, as the condition of our receiving His grace, that we sincerely feel and humbly acknowledge our need of it; and that, ceasing from our own wisdom, and confessing from the heart our own weakness, we throw ourselves unreservedly upon His wisdom and strength. This sense of entire dependence upon the grace of God will naturally express itself in prayer, and in a devout and regular use of the appointed means of grace. Not only in the immediate exercises of religion, but at all times the Christian will be animated by a spirit of devotion. He will keep himself constantly near to God. But waiting upon God not only implies worship, it also implies obedience. In short, to wait upon God is to be a religious man.

II. THE NATURE OF THIS GREAT BLESSING WHICH GOD HAS ASSURED TO ALL THAT WAIT UPON HIM. In the weary pilgrimage which they have to finish, in the sore warfare in which they are engaged, He will strengthen and uphold them. Not merely is help found for the weakness of believers, but a provision is also made for relieving and substituting for it a buoyancy and joyful exaltation of spirit, so that he is enabled to hold on his way with gladness as well as with constancy. The pious man is compared in Scripture to the sun--“his soul is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” The Gospel is a message of joy. (W. Ramsay.)

Soul-growth

What are some of the methods by which men, in the Divine economy, advance in spiritual impulse, and rise permanently higher?

1. We must not be biassed by any theory of Church or ordinances, nor by any preaching, to suppose that we are shut up to the dealings of God with us through these channels. The Church is a very powerful instrument, and will be indispensable through ages. Does not the village common school work upon the human soul? Do not books? Do not newspapers? Do not men in all the ten thousand struggles of business? Do not all the influences which go to make up the ever-teeming society? Is there anything which God does not use in operating upon the reason, the affections, and the moral sentiments of men?

2. It pleases God to make the spiritual development of men depend on time-growth. We know how it is with children. We know that they develop first by the body. Then come the social affections, with the elementary forms of the intellect. Nor can you force things in a normal and healthy child. You must take it in the hour of God’s appointment. Third in the order of time, and last, is the spiritual nature. We rejoice in the earliest flower because it is the earliest, and we rejoice in the latest flower because it is the latest; but do what you will, you cannot make the aster blossom in spring. You must wait until the time for it to blossom arrives. Now, among men the same thing happens. There are those who have a premature development of spiritual impulses.. But because the higher nature of some people is unfolded early, are we to make them the criterion for other people? It is better not to seek to produce ecstatic experiences in anticipation of the normal methods.

3. Then there are many persons who renew their strength, who develop into a higher spiritual life, into more fevour, more joy, and more stability by reason of the removal of false or imperfect views of truth.

4. There are many persons who fail to come to the light of truth, and to the inspiration of the higher views of religion, by reason of worldly prosperity, which tends to satisfy their lower nature. Under such circumstances it is that, in the Divine ordering of things, what are called distresses, infirmities, and even great sorrows, are blessed of God to the opening of their nature and to the renewing of their spiritual strength. Men never could see the corona of the sun--the red flame that surrounds that orb--until the sun was eclipsed; and the corona, the light, the glory of God is seen when men are under eclipse and in darkness. There are revelations made to men then, which prosperity never brings to them. We are rich and strong, not by the things which we possess, but by the amount of true manhood which is developed in us.

5. It pleases God, also, to employ the companionship of friends and neighbours in developing men in the direction of their higher manhood. There is nothing that is so helpful to a soul as the contact of another soul.

6. When, by the use of these various instrumentalities our souls have grown, and have come into the possibility of a higher spiritual disclosure, then there is a further soul-growth in us. We come to a state in which there is a direct influence of the soul of God exerted upon us--as direct as sight and voice are to the bodily senses. The Divine Spirit comes into the hearts of men in ways that are inexplicable to the lower understanding, and that, therefore, men who are on the lower plane of life do not comprehend. When men come to a higher Christian life they have days of spiritual insight; and those days grow longer and longer, like the days of the coming summer, when the sun goes down later and later, and rises earlier and earlier. As the result of a whole life of education and practice in Divine duties men may come, at last, into that state in which the Spirit of God shines with a steadfast lustre upon them. Then there is the triumph of grace in the soul. Then intuitions become truths--not fitful, nor irregular, not based upon inchoate and undigested knowledge, but constant, regular, and founded on sound judgment. (H. Ward Beecher.)

The strength of believers, and the renewing of it

I. GOOD MEN ARE POSSESSED OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH.

1. It is that spiritual vigour of mind by which sin is overcome.

2. And by which the world is overcome.

3. By this strength, spiritual duties are acceptably performed.

4. This strength is that qualification of mind by which the followers of Christ are enabled to endure trials and bear the cross.

5. “A deathbed is a detector of the heart.” But death does not “make cowards of us all.” He who said this, knew but little of the courage which the grace of God communicates to the minds of the most timid of the disciples of Jesus.

II. THIS STRENGTH REQUIRES TO BE RENEWED.

1. It is possible for the best of men to lose much of the influence of religion from the heart, and for a time to be very unconscious of it.

2. The corroding cares of the world should excite them to obtain the renewal of their strength.

3. Their strength requires to be renewed, because it is not innate, but communicated.

4. And because the servants of God have gone awfully wrong when it has not been renewed.

5. Good men have done wonders when their strength has been renewed.

III. THE RENEWAL OF STRENGTH IS TO BE OBTAINED BY WAITING UPON THE LORD.

1. Prayer is the waiting posture of the soul.

2. Waiting upon the Lord includes expectation. “My eyes are unto Thee; my expectation is from Thee.”

3. Watchfulness is implied in waiting upon the Lord.

IV. THE BLESSEDNESS OF WAITING UPON THE LORD. “They shall mount up with wings as eagles,” etc. This is expressive of--

1. Steady attachment to the ways of God. “Walk without fainting.”

2. Rapid progress. “Run without weariness.”

3. Elevated devotion. “Mount up with wings as eagles.” “They shall put forth fresh feathers as the moulting eagle.” No doubt the allusion is to the velocity with which the eagle soars towards the sun, after the renewal of his feathers. (W. Jones.)

The waiting Christian strengthened

I. THE DUTY ENJOINED. To wait upon God. This implies the recognition of God as the supreme Arbiter and Disposer of all human events. It is the posture of expectancy for every blessing of which we stand in need, temporal and spiritual.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH WE ARE TO WAIT UPON GOD.

1. The way of public ordinances.

2. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

3. The exercise of domestic worship and private prayer.

4. Seeking to become wise unto salvation out of His written Word, and in meditation on its soul-inspiring contents.

III. THE TEMPER AND FRAME OF MIND INVOLVED IN THE EXPRESSION, WAITING UPON GOD.

1. It implies the existence of an invincible faith, which nothing can destroy, although for a moment it may be disturbed.

2. This calls into action another principle closely connected with faith, and emanating from it,--the principle of patience and Christian resignation to the will of God.

3. Obedience.

IV. THE ENCOURAGEMENT HERE BESTOWED ON THE FULFILMENT OF THE DUTY REQUIRED,--renewed strength shall be imparted. This implies a declension of strength, fainting, and fatigue; to all of which the Christian pilgrim is more or less exposed.

1. In consequence of the exhausted spirits of the weary traveller never being renewed, some who did run well are hindered, and halt in their career; while others adopt altogether a retrograde movement, return to the path of their former delights, apostatise from the faith, and become worse than infidels.

2. But here we have a direct promise from a covenant-keeping God, that our strength shall be renewed adequate to all the demands which a perilous enterprise can render necessary.

3. We must speak in the language of reproof to all those who are strangers to this operation in the soul; who never do humbly wait upon God, but when chastised and rebuked of the Lord are disposed to resist His authority, to impugn His character as merciful and gracious; who give utterance to all the outbreaks of a rebellious, unsanctified heart. They are both to be censured and pitied.

4. But we speak encouragement to those who have already assumed the waiting position, and are thus tarrying the Lord’s leisure. Endeavour in every possible way to cultivate this holy, humble, dependent spirit. (H. S.Plumptre, M. A.)

Exhaustion and renewal, in nature and in grace

As it is the same God who works in nature and in grace, so a most interesting analogy may be traced between His operations in both. When the earth is parched with the heat of summer, and its productions begin to languish from excessive drought, it is watered and refreshed by the showers of heaven, and its various plants and fruits not only resume their former health and vigour, but spring up and flourish with greater luxuriance than before. The flower, too, that had drooped and withered at the close of day, is revived by the cool and the dews of night, and in the morning puts forth its buds, and expands its leaves anew, delighting the eye with the beauty of its colours, or perfuming the air with the sweets of its fragrance. For every degree of exhaustion in nature, indeed, the wisest and most adequate provision is made by its all-pervading and beneficent Author. When, in like manner, the spiritual strength of the Christian is impaired, and he is ready to sink under.the pressure of temptation or distress; when his consolations appear to be nearly exhausted; or when, through the prevalence of remaining unbelief and corruption, he becomes languid in duty, or faint under affliction--his decays of strength are recruited from above; new fountains are opened for his comfort; he rises as from the ground, on which he was sitting in feebleness and sorrow, and no longer with faltering, but with firm and steady steps, pursues the course of active duty, or of patient suffering, in which he is appointed to move. The stores of Divine grace provided for him are inexhaustible, and the communications of this grace imparted to him are most suitably proportioned to his need of them (Philippians 4:19). (D. Dickson, D. D.)

Waiting on God

I. THE CHARACTER OF THOSE CONCERNING WHOM THE DECLARATION OR PROMISE IN THE TEXT IS MADE, considered as “waiting on the Lord.”

1. They earnestly desire the enjoyment of His favour.

2. They diligently attend to, and take peculiar delight in, all His service and will.

II. THE IMPORT OF THE DECLARATION, that they who thus wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; or, as the words might be translated, shall be renewed in strength.

1. That the principles of the spiritual life within them shall be gradually strengthened and increased.

2. That increased communications of Divine grace shall be made to them.

III. THE INTERESTING EFFECTS OF ITS BRING SO RENOVATED OR INCREASED. “They shall mount up with wings as eagles,” etc. This may intimate--

1. That their devotions shall become more elevated and intense.

2. By that renovation and increase of spiritual strength which is the effect of waiting on the Lord, His people acquire greater alacrity and perseverance in doing His will. They shall run, or march on, and not be weary. Here the metaphor is varied, and changed into one that is more common in the sacred writings, as expressive of Christian duty, which is frequently compared to running or marching. “I will run in the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart.”

3. Fortitude and patience under affliction is also the effect of that renewing and increase of spiritual strength, which is received from waiting on the Lord. They shall walk, and not faint.” Even when incapable of being active in the service of God, grace is promised for enabling them to move forward without fainting in the path of submission and suffering. (D. Dickson, D. D.)

Strength by patience

“New strength” is often our deepest need. The machinery of the steamship, the locomotive, or the factory may be perfect in itself, its parts exquisitely adjusted, and all ready for action; yet it is inoperative until the steam is generated and applied. So, what a human being often needs is just--motive power. Not new faculties of body or of mind; not new opportunities for action, or new fields of enterprise; not so much new knowledge either; not even new desires and affections; but “new strength”--fresh inspiration. It is painful to be in that condition in which we feel that we can, and yet cannot; that we have faculty, yet lack inspiration; that we have wings of heavenward desire, with but little power to use them. The prophet here points us to the source of all true inspiration: “He giveth power to the faint.” He points us also to the condition on which this Divine energy is to be recovered: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”

1. What, then, is meant by this “waiting upon the Lord”? We use the word “wait” with reference to service: a servant “waits” upon his master or his master’s guests. We use it, too, with reference to the holding of an interview with a superior: a deputation “waits” upon the Prime Minister; the Prime Minister “waits” upon His Majesty. We use the word also with reference to a state of expectation, more or less prolonged: as when we say that we are “waiting” for some friend. It is in this last sense--the sense of continuous expectancy--that the word is used in the Bible. To “wait” is more than to pray. It is to keep looking for the answer to our prayers. It is the opposite, therefore, both of despair and of impatience. Hence the Psalmist says, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” And again, “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope,” etc. So here the prophet does not mean to say that if we would “renew our strength,” we have simply to seek an interview with God and lay our request before Him; but that if we keep looking to God with a believing and patient expectation, new vigour will come to us, our very patience will be a source of strength, and the God in whom we hope will not disappoint us.

2. “Waiting is often the only means of receiving fresh energy.” Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening. But when the evening comes, he is exhausted. All the organs are there, but they want new strength. The man lies down on his bed, and “waits.” Sleep comes upon him; and through its influence the waiting body recovers all its vigour, so that the man rises again in the morning ready for his toil. Often, too, the very best prescription which a physician can give is, “Rest and cheerful society.” A godly patience, then, is the grand secret of spiritual might. For such patience not only carries within itself the germs of strength, but also places the soul in that condition in which it is most susceptible of quickening influences and can most readily take advantage of fresh opportunities. Power is hidden in patience, as the subtle force of the lightning slumbers in the brooding cloud. Despair paralyses. Impatience, too, weakens. Magnetise a needle, and it becomes much more sensitive to the force of the magnet. And so a human heart which is constantly looking to God will be much more susceptible of all influences that come from God. The soil is ready for the vitalising shower. The sails are unfurled to catch the heavenly breeze. The ear is listening for the whispers of the Divine voice. Whereas the man who has worn himself out by impatience, or yielded himself up to despair, is too inert or too distracted to take adequate advantage of the fresh opportunities which may come at last. On the other hand, the blended eagerness and calm of the soul that is “waiting upon the Lord” make it the more receptive of all Divine influences, and keep it at least strong enough to take advantage of fresh sources of strength.

The renewed of strength

I. THE MEANS OF RENEWING OUR STRENGTH, as expressed in the phrase, “they that wait on the Lord.”

1. There must be approach to God.

2. Expectation.

3. A patient continuance in an expecting attitude, until we actually receive the fulfilment of the Divine promise. This phrase is descriptive, not merely of an occasional exercise, but of what is, or ought at least to be, the constant temper and frame of the believer’s mind.

II. To those who live in this spirit is given AN EXCEEDING GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISE. They “shall renew their strength.” Our spiritual strength seems to include chiefly three things--

1. Clear and comprehensive views of the truth of God. We often say that “knowledge is power”: certainly, ignorance of.the truth of God is weakness.

2. A correspondence between our will and affections and the truth existing in our minds.

3. Divine consolation. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

III. THE HAPPY RESULT OF THIS RENEWAL OF STRENGTH. (J. Entwisle.)

The blessedness of Divine service

There are three blessings suggested as consequent upon this waiting--

I. RENEWED VIGOUR. “They shall renew their strength.” This is not arbitrary, but necessary.

1. The intellect is strengthened by holy exercises upon Divine themes.

2. The affections are strengthened by holy exercises on right objects.

3. The will is strengthened by holy exercises in godly purposes. The whole soul gets strength by such exercise.

II. SOUL ELEVATION. “Mount up with wings as eagles.”

1. Holy gratitude is a wing that will bear the soul aloft to its

Benefactor.

2. Holy love is a wing that will bear the soul upward to its object.

3. Holy hope is a wing that will bear the soul above to its anticipated possessions.

III. INTERESTING PROGRESS. “Run, and be weary,” etc.

1. Godliness is progress. It is not a stationary state. It is a running and a walking. Forgetting the things that are behind, etc.

2. Godliness is progress without fatigue. There is no weariness in love. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

The highest strength derived from the highest service

I. THE HIGHEST STRENGTH IS DERIVED FROM THE HIGHEST SERVICE.

1. The highest strength is not physical nor intellectual, but moral. Strength to resist the wrong, to pursue the right, to honour God and bless humanity.

2. What is the highest service? Waiting upon the Lord. To wait upon Him implies a practical recognition of His existence, personal superintendence, and absolute authority. This service must be--

II. THE HIGHEST STRENGTH IS DEVELOPED IN THE HIGHEST ACTIVITY. What is this activity?

1. Soul devotion.

2. Soul progress. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Waiting on God

The Lord’s people must wait--

1. In simplicity of intention. On Him only (Psalms 62:5).

2. In faith. They “wait for the Lord, and in His word do they hope” Psalms 130:5). Even when He hides His face (Isaiah 8:17). Their faith at one time is supported only by the promises,,-at other times by their own experience (Psalms 27:14; Lamentations 3:25-26; Isaiah 30:18; Isaiah 49:23).

3. They wait with patient perseverance. It is not only an act, but a gracious habit of mind (Psalms 25:5).

4. They wait with humility and self-denial. They wait on God, asking counsel, seeking strength, and imploring pardon and peace. This posture of mind becomes the ignorance and guilt and unworthiness of the creature; the perfection, the wisdom and love of such a Being.

5. They wait with submission and resignation. They wait His time, acquiesce in His methods. (J. Cooke.)

Waiting upon the Lord

These consolations are suited to men in all ages, and in all countries. We are precisely in the same position in which the Jews were found--we are equally apt to faint when under God’s rod; and He seeks to inspire us with hope and confidence.

I. Let us notice: THIS WAITING UPON THE LORD. And the first thing that strikes us is the language used by the prophet--language so far removed from mere formal expression. There is no mention here of the use of many words, or of certain external marks of devotion; it is simply, “Waiting upon the Lord!” Evidently the prophet uses it as representing an act of devotion, looking to God for help in the time of need. True waiting upon the Lord seems to have three features, which we suppose to be contained in the words here used.

1. Desire.

2. A collected frame of mind.

3. Trust in the Lord.

II. “They that wait upon the Lord SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH.” We are altogether dependent upon God for our natural, as well as for our spiritual strength. God seems to observe in spiritual things a similar order to that which exists in natural things. Our natural strength requires constant renovation by the food that is convenient for us. So it is in the spiritual life: we can make no provision of grace for the future; we are called to depend upon God day by day. There are various reasons why we should constantly apply to God for a renewal of our spiritual strength. There are conflicts to be endured with our spiritual foes, within our own hearts; we live in a world that is lying in wickedness; we have to do with matters concerning the present life that are often very trying and perplexing in their nature, and often is our courage likely to fail. In an indirect manner, then, this encouraging passage of Scripture reminds us of the cause of our spiritual declensions. It is because we do not constantly wait upon the Lord. (J. Hocart.)

Waiting upon the Lord

1. THE GENERAL PROPOSITION. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”

II. THE DEMONSTRATION OR CONFIRMATION OF THIS. “They shall mount up,” etc. (T. Horton, D. D.)

Waiting in patience

Profane and desperate persons fly off in a discontent and impatience, like Jehoram (2 Kings 6:33). The more willing we are to wait upon God the better it is for us; for He pays for time and gives us the more because we have waited. (T. Horton, D. D.)

Strength for strength

“Change their strength” (marg.). This seems to be the proper sense and meaning. There is a double kind of change to be observed.

1. In quality. They shall have a new kind of strength bestowed upon them, over what they had before conversion, as Caleb had another spirit, and Saul another heart. For even before conversion there is a kind of strength which does appear, and that also in reference to religion, and the duties of it, but it is not such a strength as any are to rest themselves contented with. There is the strength of temper, and natural constitution, and a man may be able both to do and suffer very much by it. This is that which does for the most part extend itself to the outside and form of religion. The strength of wit, and reason, and understanding, and memory, and the like, while their heart and will and affections have no saving work at all upon them. There is the strength of custom, and religious education. There is the strength of civility and moral principles. This was the strength which was in Paul before his conversion. They that wait upon the Lord shall “change,” that is, they shall have another strength bestowed upon them, and such as will be more useful to them. Instead of this natural, and moral, and customary strength, they shall have a supernatural and spiritual given unto them. This is different, and surpassing the other.

2. In quantity and degree. Good Christians shall through God’s grace grow stronger and stronger.

The strength of a Christian

The strength of a Christian is amplified by a resemblance to a threefold motion.

1. Flying.

2. Running.

(a) Because he has a great way to go, much ground to be despatched; therefore there is need of speed for the passing over it.

(b) But a little time, and much time lost already.

(c) The vehemency of desire to the thing itself which we run for. It is a 1 Corinthians 9:25).

3. Walking. Walking is less than running, and fainting is more than weariness. If then those who run are not weary, the same when they walk shall not faint. There are divers things which we are liable to faint at, which yet the Scripture takes us off from fainting at.

Renewing strength

This it nearly concerns us to do upon these considerations.

1. In point of honour, and that especially with God Himself. Spiritual weakness is a disparagement, especially as a relapse, and after some former degrees of strength. The excellency of dignity and the excellency of strength go both together, and he that falls from the one does, with Reuben, fall also from the other. Becoming weak as water, he shall not Genesis 49:4).

2. In point of ease. A weak Christian is a burden to himself as meeting with many difficulties which he cannot grapple with, but which prove too hard to him. There are many temptations to resist, and many afflictions to endure, and many duties to perform.

3. In point of comfort. A weak Christian will be an uncomfortable Christian. (T. Horton, D. D.)

Waiting upon the Lord

I. “THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH.”

1. This sounds as if they were in danger of becoming weary and faint in their minds. Is this really so? What do you say, Christian tradesman--you upon whom God hath laid the responsibilities of home and family--you Christian citizen-you whom the arrows of affliction have wounded--you proclaimer of the Lord’s message?

2. The least that.it can mean is they shall stand their ground.

3. But the margin speaks of this renewal as a change of strength, as if it would remind us of the mansidedness of the grace of God, and its perfect adaptability to our everchanging needs.

II. “THEY SHALL MOUNT UP WITH WINGS AS EAGLES.” This seems to say that the life of communion with God is not a long series of vapid and unemotional hours, a dead level of mechanical and spiritless employments, but a life that has rare and glorious experiences, holy aspirations, ennobling thoughts, ecstatic emotions, spirit-stirring hopes.

1. Purer air.

2. Clearer vision.

3. Untroubled quiet.

4. Rare landscape.

5. Unclouded sunshine.

III. “THEY SHALL RUN AND NOT BE WEARY.” Capacity for the most strenuous exertion.

IV. “THEY SHALL WALK AND NOT FAINT.” Is this the same as saying that we shall have the power of steady perseverance, of patient endurance under protracted trial? Did the prophet put this last in his brief summary because patience is one of those Christian graces that has its perfect work the latest? (J. H. Anderson.)

The strong in danger of exhaustion

It is a great mistake to suppose that only the puny are liable to downfalls. The truth lies the other way! The more alert and bold a youth will be, the more certainly he will at some time overtask his strength. The boy who never knew what it was to be fagged out at school is not worth much. The young man who never overdid himself and felt utterly exhausted through some strenuous exertion in a great contest will never do much in the world--he is not worth much-Not the tame, slow idlers, but the forceful men, the men who rejoice in their strength and to use their strength, the men who would rather drop than give in while another yard can be run, or another step be made, or another blow be struck for victory--these are the men who will assuredly be carried on in the great enterprise until they are weary, and when weary will be carried on by their indomitable spirit, while others are seeking rest, until at last they reel and stagger and collapse. Hence it is for these that the prophet chiefly writes. For the old, for the young, for the sick and infirm, and even for such as may be tottering into the grave, he writes for them, and all he says is true and needful for their case. But more than all, in view of the great work to which he is calling his countrymen, he writes for those who feel called upon to do something in the world, for those who are conscious of high powers, and are in the purest sense of the word ambitious. (T. V. Tymms.)

Waiting upon God

I. WHAT IS THIS WAITING?

1. It means prayer--much more than an occasional supplication, however real; it means persistent, persevering, continual prayer; it means an abiding attitude of trustful dependence upon God; it means all that is wrapped up in those beautiful words, “Oh, rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him”; it means trust in the Lord and do good; it means trust in the Lord at all times, for with Him is everlasting strength, and have no confidence in self.

2. But the prophet has a deeper thought than this. There are many things for which we can only ask and then wait in quiet stillness, things which we cannot help God to give us, things which God Himself bestows without our aid, if we are ever to possess them. Renewal often comes to men in their extremity like this.

3. But while we cannot pass over such times and such experiences, it would be unhealthy to be dwelling upon them as if they were the whole of life. They are not. We are not always faint. Usually we have, at any rate, just a little strength, and then waiting upon Him means not only prayer and uplooking, but doing His commandments like the angels, who because they do them excel in strength.

II. WHAT IS THE ISSUE OF SUCH WAITING UPON GOD? The prophet’s imagery is startling, and some critics would presume to call his figures somewhat mixed; but the thought conveyed is clear. The older Jewish commentators imagined they discovered here a reference to an ancient belief that at a certain time the eagle plunged into the sea and bathed off his worn-out plumage, and that afterwards new feathers grew. The Septuagint translators of the Old Testament were so sure of this bit of false science that in order to square their Hebrew Scriptures with the fashion of thought in Alexandria, they ventured to alter the words of our text, and to read, “They shall put forth new feathers like eagles,” and so the old Greek version reads to-day. But we have good reason to believe that the prophet drew his imagery from familiar objects in the land of exile. There could be little doubt but that from childhood he had often looked upon some of those carved tablets on which men with wings of eagles fastened to their shoulders were common, that he had often looked on those colossal images of winged bulls and lions and men such as may be seen in our British Museum to-day. Now those composite figures had subtle meanings. They could not suggest to the prophet his religious thought, but his inspired genius laid them under tribute to assist the utterance of a thought of higher inspiration. At any rate he found in the matchless wing-power of the eagle a sublime image of an inspiring and God-seeking man. The figure of one flying through the heavens, coupled strangely with the promise of running without being wearied, represents the godly man as ever having courage to entertain great hopes. Never failing to seek and obtain fellowship with God in the highest, always daring to attempt great actions, this heavenly minded man has thoughts and yearnings which raise his mode of life above the level of common things. This man, however, has this double life. There is the soaring Godward, and there is the common drudgery of daily walk and conversation, the practical common life. (T. V. Tymms.)

Renewal of strength

As we look back on history we can see positive evidence that the promise of this text was historically fulfilled, and in the eases of the men to whom the message came first. The national life was restored, and that restoration of national life in the Jews is unique in the history of mankind; you cannot point to anything like it since man walked this earth, but it took place. It seemed impossible that these few exiles could escape from those nations, and go back to their own land and restore their institutions, but they did. And who did it? The men who were making themselves rich in those days in Eastern cities stayed there. The men who led the remnant back were God-fearing men like Ezra and Zerubbabel, men who waited on God. The wall of Jerusalem, of the second temple, would never have been built but for men like Nehemiah and Haggai, men who had their times of fear and depression and weakness, hut who went to God and came back not only strengthened themselves, but able to strengthen their brethren, so that the great work was done. So to-day in every Christian Church, in every Christian enterprise, in every modern fight for righteousness and truth, there are some men who never know when they are defeated; there are some men who, because of this, are invulnerable men; and the men who, when cast down always say there is lifting up, the men who can live and die for Divine ideas, the men who to-day are converting savage races into Christian peoples and working out in painful and prosaic details, and with much danger to their lives in some cases, the glowing dreams of ancient seers respecting the transformation of mankind, these are they who wait in secret on their God. (T. V. Tymms.)

Exhaustion and recovery

1. If anything were needed to teach men the necessity for connecting their own spirits with the Divine, it is the quick exhaustion of individual resources. Even “as the stream of brooks they pass away.” Faith and hope and love itself, so dewy fresh in the morning, spend themselves in noonday’s scorching heat, and run low at eventide. Sometimes, indeed, long before the shadows are stretched out, in manhood’s very prime the wasting is manifest. I can strive no more, says the tired heart. Who does not know the temptations of reaction, and the days when the lights burn low?

2. In such moods we need to look away from the crowds, and from the glaring lights of the city, to the calm glories of the moon, and the stars above our heads. All these evils, so full of fierce and destructive energies, will soon be as the dust beneath our feet. Truth and holiness and right abide for ever. To “look off” unto the eternal, to get behind the veil into the realm of true being is the need of the fevered and exhausted soul. Hidden in that secret pavilion we see things as they really are. Wrong may prosper for a time. Greed, unrighteousness, sensuality, may appear to be more stable than granite. But they are only painted cloud. We see the years move on, and the everlasting truth subdue all to itself. Maybe in revolutions and bloodshed, for the wheels of God grind inexorably and small. But at the last, evil is found to be in its nature only decay. “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Such a vision restores the heart of faith. To think that we are labouring in vain is the thought that paralyses. But whatever is done for right is done for God and endures eternally.

3. But there are other thoughts that come to us in the quietude of the Divine fellowship. We are shown the infinite powers that He concealed in the heart of a solitary man of faith. Faith is like a spark. Though it seems tiny, it is real fire, and it can set the world ablaze. Faith can work miracles. Our Lord trusted to faith to subdue humanity. It has already conquered half the world, and controls the whole. Luther changed the course of the centuries by faith. Wesley fashioned modern England by faith. Booth by faith has changed the drunkard and the sensualist into saints. All things are possible to him that believeth. If, then, truth is eternal, and faith is omnipotent, why should any difficulties, however stupendous, or failures, however extensive, lead us to despair? (Sunday School Chronicle.)

The source and design of spiritual strength

I. SPIRITUAL STRENGTH, HOW IS IT TO BE OBTAINED? There was a time when our human nature seemed to possess much spiritual strength, but there came a time when it was all lost; and from that time, in the experience of every human being, it has had to be renewed. This renewing influence must come from God; surely that is a statement in harmony both with reason and with Scripture. To speak of a man as able to strengthen himself, so as to dispense with Divine aid, is as unreasonable as it is unscriptural As well might you talk of a leafless tree clothing itself with verdure without the vernal sun--as well of an enfeebled body recovering tone and energy without the reviving air of heaven. Who can bring strength out of weakness? who can bring life out of decay? How is this renewing influence, then, to be obtained? By waiting upon the Lord. You see the progression of ideas; it is strength that has to be renewed, and it has to be renewed by God, and God gives it when we wait upon Him. Some who like to trace the analogy between the works of nature and the works of grace, may perhaps have seen a flower which the storms of night have severely shaken, towards the morning turn wistfully to the dawn, and seem to be waiting for the coming day. Nor does it wait in vain. Beneath that bright beam the moisture that encumbered it is exhaled; its bent stalk raises itself again, its shrivelled petals expand into beauty, and it diffuses around a cheering fragrance in gratitude to the power that has renewed its strength. Your stalk may be a broken one, and your petals may be shrivelled, but by waiting upon the Lord you shall renew your strength.

II. HOW SHOULD SPIRITUAL STRENGTH BE EXHIBITED?

1. In rapturous contemplation of the things of God. The eagle is a bird that soars upwards towards heaven: so is the Christian to mount upwards in holy contemplation. He has powers adapted to this exercise--powers with which he can glorify his Maker; and he must not point those eagle faculties to the dust, but let them take wing and rise. The most vigorous pinion will never reach the sun, but yet it may reach so high that earth-bound creatures shall fail to track its flight, and lose it in the glare of the excellent glory.

2. In untiring activity in the direct service of God. In common daily duty we are to run in the ways of God’s commandments; but the word is more frequently employed to denote some direct obedience to some special command. We are not to spend all our time in rapturous contemplation. We are not to devote all our lives to lonely musing. It is well to rise up on wings of eagles, but now and then we must come to the level of our fellow-creatures, and in their service we are to run and not be weary. I may be very busy in connection with the Church of Christ and the advancement of the knowledge of Christ. But who is not weary, sometimes, in well-doing! It is one thing to begin, and another thing to go on.

3. They shall walk and not faint--words which seem to denote consistency in common daily life. In vain all my lonely musing, in vain all my bustle in the kingdom of Christ, if consistency of daily life does not accompany the whole. The world expects it of me; Christ demands it of me. This is the religion of the Bible: is it not a noble thing? There is many a young man who thinks, “I find plenty of occupation for my energy in the service of the world, but if I become a religious man, then I am sure to become a poor, lifeless, morose character.” Not so; for the religion of the Bible is this: mounting up with wings of eagles, running and not wearying, walking and not fainting. All your youthful energy will be useful in the service of religion, and you will find it much more happily employed than in the service of the world and of Satan. (F. Tucker, B. A.)

The privileges of those who wait upon God

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN WAITING UPON GOD?

1. Waiting, in Scripture language, is a term used to denote dependence. “These wait all upon Thee; that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season.” The meaning is obviously, They, all depend upon Thee; men and beasts alike.

2. Another sense in which the word “waiting” occurs in Scripture is, a willingness to be directed by the person waited upon. Thus Job says, unto me men gave ear, they waited, and kept silence at my counsel”: which is as if he had said, “I had only to speak, and they were ready to obey my directions.” And when a contrary disposition is charged upon Israel, the Psalmist expresses it by saying, “They waited not for His counsel”: that is, they wanted it not, nor meant to follow it, and therefore would not wait to receive it. This sense of the word gives us another part of the character of those that wait upon the Lord. They are willing to receive direction and instruction from Him.

3. Waiting, in the Scriptures, sometimes includes the idea which we affix to it in common life; namely, that of attendance or service.

II. THE SEVERAL BRANCHES OF THE PROMISE. (S. Knight, M. A.)

Despondency and hopefulness

I. The despondent are unhappy and weak, and they shrink from effort; but the hopeful are joyous and strong, and they delight to put forth their strength in action. The inertness of the despondent continually deepens their despondency, increases their weakness, and aggravates their misery. But hope feeds upon every act to which it prompts, and it grows thereby.

2. There are various kinds of hopefulness, which differ greatly in their nature and their effects. The nature of each man’s hopes will be in accordance with his ruling desires, and the amount of his hopefulness will depend on that to which he trusts for the fulfilment of his desires. One man’s desires, and therefore his hopes, will go forth in the direction of the pleasures of sense. What has he to trust in for the continuance of the hope that these desires shall be gratified? But, for the most part, these exhaustive pleasures rapidly fret away that on which they depend. Health, hope, and desire pass quickly away together, and a loaded table becomes an object of revulsion. If, however, his desires are set on the more refined pleasures of sense, such as the enjoyment of works of art, his hopes depend on the retention of the delicate sensibility of the organs by which he receives his impressions. But in time the eye becomes dim, and the subtle beauties of a fine painting cannot be seen; the ear becomes dull, and the sweetest music charms no more. When, again, we think of those whose pleasures are more purely intellectual, we know that an enfeebled memory puts an effectual check on the acquisition of knowledge.

3. The slight and shifting nature of the foundations on which worldly hopes are built makes it evident that they can do but little towards giving abiding and progressive strength to character, while frequent failures and disappointments depress and enfeeble. Let us, therefore, see what there is in reserve for us in the large world into which Isaiah is prepared to conduct us We are at once made aware of its vastness, to the expanding and refreshing of our spirits, for we are brought face to face with God in all the majesty of His perfections: the infinite Greatness, to which the nations are as the small dust of the balance. This large world, the spiritual, into which Isaiah has ushered us, includes all worlds, for it is as limitless as its Ruler.

We all, therefore, belong to it in one sense or another, and cannot pass out of it. (W. Howells.)

Strength of soul made perfect by hope in God

I. THE HOPES THAT ARE BASED ON FAITH IN GOD GIVE STRENGTH ENOUGH TO APPROACH HIM. This is the highest of all exercises of spiritual strength, and effectually prepares for all the rest. This is a mounting up on wings, as compared with which the rest are but running and walking. Who, then, shall give wings to a heavy laden sinner, strong enough to sustain him in his upward flight? We have not far to search for the answer.

1. He receives strength to confess his sins to the God of truth from the hope of pardon founded on God’s merciful promise.

2. Hope and strength rapidly grow when faith clearly sees and steadfastly rests on the firm ground of forgiveness in the death of Christ.

3. The justified believer derives strength to advance to closest fellowship with God from the hope that he may meet Him in likeness of character.

4. Who can measure the unfailing strength which inspires the Christian when he feels that he is safe in the threefold grasp of the Triune God?

II. THE HOPES THAT ARE BASED ON FAITH GIVE STRENGTH TO LIVE FOR GOD. If we take the running of the text to mean the rendering of active public service to God, and the walking to mean steadfast advance in character, the Christian requires the strength needed for both in the approach to God. He comes down from the mount made ready, like Moses, for work in the camp at large, or in the retirement of his tent. In so far as the spiritual life is one, it is a life in God. The energy of this life manifests itself in various ways. It puts forth its utmost strength in rising towards its Source when the Christian enters into fellowship with the Father and the Son.

1. The Christian makes a hopeful start in his course of service when he clearly realises the spiritual security of his own position.

2. All the motives which the Gospel presents before him feed his hopefulness and increase his working power. “I can do all things,” said Paul, “through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Our deepest affections are stirred when we are told that redemption was made in love. Once more, the Christian is prompted to strenuous and persevering action by the appeal made to his desires. The highest point in his destiny is to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”

Mounting up; running; walking

Mount up with wings as eagles, run, walk. That is a very lame finish. Surely there must be some mistake. The man with so keen an eye for rhetorical effect as this writer shows could not have ended this matchless oration so tamely. It is quite clear that the order in which the prophet wrote was, “They that wait upon the Lord shall walk and not faint, shall run and not be weary, shall mount up with wings as eagles.” That is the way to finish. It’s a sorry thing to begin with the eagle’s flight and come down to four miles an hour! “So I saw in my dream that he went from running to going, and from going to scrambling on his hands and knees, because of the steepness of the place.” You know who wrote that, and how true to the experience of a Christian is his picture. Perhaps that is the commentary on this verse. The order, then, may be the correct one, after all--not so good as a rhetorical finish, but true to life. And, at any cost, let him who speaks from the mouth of the true God himself be true. And this is true to life” “They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run; they shall walk.” The flash of inspiration brings eager enthusiasm; you actively pursue your ideal for a time, and then, because of the steepness of the place, you come down to a painful walk. Is not that the history in a nutshell of what is called the progress of nearly every society or opinion that you know? Whether it be philanthropic, political, social, or religious, that seems to be tram. “Mount up with wings as eagles, run, walk,” and one might almost dare to add a fourth--“stand still!” (F. L.Wiseman, B. A.)

Untiring progress

But is the prophet translated rightly? Our revisers have left this text exactly as, it stands in the A.V., “Mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run, and walk,” and yet I do not think it is what the prophet meant. As we read his words the image they call up is of three modes of motion, three rates of progression--the flight of the eagle, the swift foot of the deer, and the ordinary pace of man. But the idea in his mind is not one of comparative motions. Let me translate that last word again, translate it by a word that is about as wide in its English significance as the word used by the prophet in his own time, “They shall mount up, they shall run, they shall go.” The word does not say anything about the rate at which they go, and is used of the flight of the arrow through the air, or of the way of the ship driven before the wind, or of the gait of a swift-footed animal, or of the ordinary pace of man. The prophet is not speaking of three rates of motion, but he is rather speaking of the active motion and then onward continuance. “They shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall go on and on and not faint.” This is the truth on which he is insisting before these downhearted and enfeebled Babylonian captives whose hands hang down, whose knees are feeble. The man of God, the man who waits on God, is equal to any emergency, is equal to any strength. If you want the flash of a new inspiration the man of God will receive it; if you want swift progress the man of God is equal to it; if you want steady perseverance you shall find it in the man of God also. With a stronger stroke than the eagle’s wing will he be able to beat the air and penetrate to the third heaven; he will run before the chariot of the king and get to the city sooner than the fleetest horses of which even the king of Israel can boast; like Asahell he shall be lissom of limb and light of foot; and when far in the trackless desert even the endurance of the camel gives out, shall the man of God hold on his way. The man who waits upon God has three cardinal qualities which above all others will tend to the conquest of the world--buoyancy of spirits, activity, and perseverance; the man who can command these is the man who will win. (F. L. Wiseman, B. A.)

Recuperative power

But it is said the prophet gives us the natural order. Then I have a question to ask. What did your man of the natural order stop running for? He stopped running because he was tired. It is precisely because he is not tired that the man of God does not stop. “They shall run, and not be weary.” The whole point is there. He walks and does not faint, and he will not have to stop and take rest and food because he is faint, but goes on and on. There is no need for the word of inspiration to tell us that you can begin with a big inspiration and go on fast for a time, and then slow down to the ordinary tramp. You have learnt that to your sorrow by the bitter teaching of experience. But the message of the recuperative power, that you shall mount up with wings as eagles, run and not be weary, and go on and on knowing neither weariness nor faintness, this is the word of inspiration alone. It is a power that is not your own, a power that comes from no earthly source, a supernatural power, power from on high which the prophet is here offering. (F. L. Wiseman, B. A.)

Strength helping weakness

At a certain junction the train by which I was travelling was divided into two parts. One part was taken on by the engine to the higher end of the platform, the other and hinder remained where it was. Some carriages standing on the middle line of rails were to be attached to our train. An engine came down and gave them a push, sending them towards the stationary carriages at such a rate that it seemed as though they would crash into the train with violence. But as they came round the curve from one line to the other friction and gravitation asserted their power. Every moment the speed was reduced, and finally the carriages came to a standstill a foot away from those to which they were to be attached. Then the engine and carriages of the detached front part of the train came back and all were coupled up. And away went those weary, dilatory carriages as fast as the rest. They were now coupled up to the source of the power, and the effect of every pulse of the engine was communicated to them, and had it run one hundred miles an hour so would they have done. That is the teaching of the prophet. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,” they are coupled up to the source of power without, and being coupled to the power without, the effect of every throb of the engine is communicated to the carriages, and the love of every beat of the heart of God comes down to the Church of the living God. (F. L. Wiseman, B. A.)

The power to realise ideals

We are constantly being exhorted to-day by good and earnest men to set a high ideal before us. But I believe that the preaching of the high ideal, divorced from the preaching of its attainment by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, is the reason for more than one-half the cynicism that you find amongst men from thirty-five to forty at the present day. The fact is, men are led to think they are going to conquer the whole land in five minutes, and imagine they are going to realise their ideal before they are five-and-twenty; and when they find that the nearer they ought to be getting to their ideal the farther it recedes into the distance, they are discouraged, and, out of sheer despair of ever reaching their ideal, they give it up, and laugh at those who try to pursue it. I do not say “Do not pursue your ideal,” but what I say is this, “If you ever really want to make your ideal, you must be endued with the power from on high.” (F. L.Wiseman, B. A.)

Godly optimism

The knapsack that galls and oppresses the novice at mountain climbing is borne without fatigue by the guide who is accustomed to it. There are amateur and spasmodic philanthropists who dabble occasionally with the great social problems, and they feel their weight and cry out in despair. But the Christian has had that care upon his heart daffy, and he knows how to bear it, and before whom to lay it. But, further. He who has only seen the sorrow, the grief, the sin of the world has not penetrated to the depth of the problem. He sees the clouds and mist around the planet, but not the world itself. Who, of all men who ever lived upon the earth, was the One who had the sorrow of the world nearest to His heart? But you picture the life of the Lord Jesus Christ from the wrong angle, if you picture Him only as “the Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” He was that, but that is not the last analysis of the character of the Lord Jesus Christ. None had such joy as Christ. Do you remember after His statement of great intellectual and moral truths that make the brain weary and the heart of the uninitiated faint, it is recorded that the Lord Jesus Christ’s spirit leapt for joy, and He said, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes”! He mounted up on eagle’s wings to meet the down-coming Spirit of the Father. And look at that time when He has the burden of the world upon Him. He is making His will. What has the Lord Jesus Christ to leave? His Cross. That is His great legacy to the Church. But how does He leave it? In the power to endure it. “My peace I give unto you,” that is the legacy. And when He Calls us home, He who sits upon the circle of the heavens, and sees all the sorrow of this world as you and I can never see it, bids us “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” He who looks only at the burden of the world, and only sees its sorrow and shame, has not got to the last analysis of its meaning; he has not touched the Rock, is floundering in the mud. You must get deeper and deeper yet, and when you touch the Rock--the pillars of the earth--you will come to the fact that under all there is the eternal blessedness. And the man who waits upon God enters into that eternal calm and blessedness. (F. L. Wiseman, B. A.)

Strength renewed by waiting on the Lord

I. WHEREIN CONSISTS THE STRENGTH SPOKEN OF BY THE PROPHET?

1. The Philistines were utterly unable to find out in what the amazing strength of Samson consisted, until he revealed it to his espoused wife. It was his religious observance of the laws of the Nazarite which occasioned his extraordinary power. His uncommon bodily strength, therefore, was from the Lord; and when He departed from him, he became weak as another man.

2. But the strength spoken of in our text is evidently not corporeal strength; it is a power seated in the mind; but neither is it intellectual vigour. It is often found in persons of weak understanding, and in minds not highly cultivated by refined education.

3. The strength spoken of is a moral, or more properly a spiritual quality. As bodily health is only found in a well-balanced and healthy state of the corporeal functions, so spiritual strength can only be found in souls into which new life has been infused, and is in vigorous exercise. The elements of this strength are--

II. HOW SPIRITUAL STRENGTH MAY BE ACQUIRED AND HOW RENEWED, WHEN IT HAS BEEN IMPAIRED. We are not exhorted to be strong in ourselves, but “in the Lord, and in the power of His might.” But, in order to obtain aid from on high, we must make use of the appointed and appropriate means. These are all comprehended in one expression, “waiting on the Lord.”

III. WHAT BENEFITS AND AIDS THEY RECEIVE WHO WAIT UPON THE LORD. They are said, in our text, “to mount up on wings as eagles.” The soul of fallen man naturally grovels on the earth; his face instead of being raised to heaven, is prone toward the ground. But when the Holy Spirit enters into any man, his thoughts and affections are raised to those things which are above. By the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, faith, love, and hope are brought into lively exercise; and these are as pinions to the soul. When by faith the regenerated soul draws near to God, the earth appears to recede; all its objects are seen to be diminutive; and the realities of the heavenly state are perceived, and operate with power on the susceptible mind. But such seasons of elevated devotion and delightful contemplation are not constant. Our text speaks not only of flying, but of running and walking. Reflections--

1. “The men of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” When the body is debilitated and needs to be strengthened, they spare no pains or expense to recover impaired health. If they hear of a medicinal spring far off in the mountains they hesitate not to undertake the journey, and undergo the hardships of the rugged way, that they may test the efficacy of the mineral waters. And this is done commonly, in the greatest uncertainty whether the means will prove effectual.

2. As our natural life requires to be nourished by suitable food from day to day, without which it would decline and death would ensue, so the spiritual life of the Christian needs to be recruited continually, with the nutriment which is suited to its growth and strength.

3. Although every degree of spiritual strength is a precious possession, and we are not permitted “to despise the day of small things,” yet it is the duty and privilege of every believer to aim at high attainments in the Divine life, and to encourage and aid others in doing the same. (A. Alexander, D. D.)

Condition and conduct

Every river needs a channel; and the wider and deeper the channel the fuller and more copious the stream, provided the waters are inexhaustible. The river is God’s infinite power; the channel is our conscious weakness. By waiting on the Lord the stream flows into its appointed bed. Let the stream flow on uninterruptedly, and all your need in the way of weakness, helplessness, ignorance, emptiness will be met moment by moment. The result will be as it is figuratively expressed: We shall mount up; we shall run; we shall walk.

I. THE PROMISE. “They that wait,” etc. “Renew” means to “change your strength.”

1. A change from one kind of strength to another. Here is a Christian, bewildered, not quite knowing why he has so perpetually failed. Now when he ceases from self and takes God as his strength, he changes his strength.

2. A change from one measure of strength to another. It is like a river or a stream--always passing away, and yet the power is always present; the power moving the mill-wheel, not by jerks, but by a continuous stream, always passing away, and yet ever flowing in; one measure of strength succeeding that which has been expended. Our whole future is mapped out with tests and trials, but we need not be afraid of these things if we are in the stream of the Divine supply. You see the eagle mounting up by a power that God has given it. But it is possible to rise by another kind of power. By a sudden impetus or effort. You throw a stone into the air. Watch it a bit and down it comes again; the power has spent itself. So it is possible for the Christian to be moving on by a power that very soon expends itself, and by a process of exhaustion he falls back again under the gravitating influence of his evil tendencies. This is not the strength spoken of here. Our Lord refers to a similar thought in John 4:14, “The water that I shall give him shall become in him.” That word “become,” in the new version, is full of deep meaning in this connection. It puts before us the thought, not of a new gift, but of a new experience of an old gift. As long as you rest, in the place of power and blessing the stream will flow through you unceasingly.

II. THE CONDITION of all this. “Waiting upon the Lord.” What is it to wait? There must be stillness of soul, dependence, expectation.

III. THE RESULT. Heavenly-mindedness. “He shall mount up.” There are two wings in our spiritual ascent--faith and obedience. If we try to rise by means of faith alone we shall be like a bird with one wing. If we trust and obey, obey and trust, we rise into a purer atmosphere, and have a clearer vision--we live in the very presence of God. This threefold description of mounting up, running and walking, presents three aspects of the same character. If I am to run and walk I must be in close communion with God; I must know what it is to mount up. Then there is the “running,” that is ready obedience--a mark of the true servant. The “walking” is the most important part after all. It is far easier for some of us to run than to walk. We like a little bit of excitement or emotion. To walk we want something like continuous, sustained evenness of conduct, progressing quietly and steadily day by day in the common round of life; not impulsive, not capricious, not changeable; without show, humble, and always the same. For this we need power. And that power God has provided. (Evan H. Hopkins, B. A.)

Waiting upon God

One brother in the ministry asked me, “Is there not a danger of too great passivity?” I said “Oh yes, my brother, as long as we think it is our activity that must do it, then passivity robs us of time and strength. But once we understand that it is God that must work it in us, then I understand that my highest passivity will be my highest activity, for when I give myself entirely away to God, God can work in me, and then I will work as they that wait upon the Lord.”

1. If you are to wait aright upon the Lord, you must learn to know Him, you must turn away your thoughts and eyes and heart and trust from everything, and set them upon God alone, My conduct in waiting for a man, or waiting on him, will depend entirely upon what I think of him. One who waits upon the king behaves in a different way from one who waits upon an ordinary person. And all our waiting upon God will depend upon one thing--the knowledge that we have of Him. But how does God reveal Himself when He calls upon us to wait upon Him? (Isaiah 40:25-29). He never is weary. He has kept the world going all these ages; and my short life of sixty, seventy, or eighty years--will my God not care for and maintain that? When I look at what He does for the stars, I realise that His work is done every moment. And God, in His omnipotence and faithfulness, is willing to work in my heart every moment of the day.

2. The second great thing is to know ourselves, to be willing and determined to accept what God reveals about us. And what does God reveal in contrast with His great omnipotence? Our utter impotence. If a number of ships of war were sent out to sea, and were ready to start at any moment, and if the question were asked, what are they waiting for?, the answer would likely be one of two things: either that they were waiting for supplies, or waiting for orders. Child of God, that is to be your position. You are to wait for supplies. Wait for the power of the Holy Spirit every day. Cultivate also the habit of waiting for orders. Study and love your Bible, but remember it is God who must give the orders, and you will fail if you take them from a book. Love your Bible and fill your heart with it, but let God apply it in your daily life.

3. Once more, if I am to wait upon the Lord aright I must study well what this word “wait” in itself implies. It implies patience. The Bible speaks about waiting patiently, and also about waiting quietly. You must cultivate that habit. How can you do it? When you go into your closet for your morning devotions, do not, as is very often done, read the Bible and think about it and pray about it, and then get up and go. But do something else in between. Before you read, set yourself still that your soul may realise, I am waiting for God to come in and take possession of me for to-day. That is your great need. And then, before you pray, sit still, and shut your eyes and say, Will God now listen to me for certain? Learn to come into blessed fellowship with God. Then wait continually--not one or two days, not one moment, but all the day (Psalms 25:5). (Andrew Murray.)

Life’s order and the Divine sufficiency

We find here the true order of experience in life.

1. First comes the “flying” stage. The period of fresh, wild enthusiasms; the season of zeal without discretion, when all sorts of impossibilities are dreamed, all sorts of vain things attempted. This mood comes at the beginning, and not at the end of our career. It is in the period of youth that we have our ambitious dreams, and take our higher flights. Thank God for the flying stage while it lasts, for we do get visions in those flights that abide with us long after our wings have dropped off, and we have learned that the ether is not our element; visions whose memory helps to cheer us as hereafter we trudge along the monotonous and dusty ways of life’s hard routine. Youth is full of impulses, full of excesses, full of exaggerations. Let us not be impatient of them. It is a grand thing that there is one time in our lives when we have wings. Too soon the wings, like those of Icarus, melt, and we drop to mother earth again. Too soon a hard and cynical world converts our ingenuous confidence into self-mistrust. In religious experience youth is the time of wings. Its faith is romantic, the thrill of its devotion is exquisite. The spiritual is so real. God is so near. Doubt seems so impossible, and elements of character are forming then that we should be poor indeed without in future time. But the period comes when these youthful impulsions give place to the more restrained and disciplined energies of life, like those of the runner who has trained himself to maintain his pace, and to maintain it by not exceeding it. But running is harder than flying. Watch the bird in the air. Nothing looks less like effort.

2. When we have done flying, we go on running. We have found that after all we have to live on terra firma. But there is immense energy in us still. Thank God, too, for the running stage. That is the time when we are spiritually aggressive, when we count as an active force in the world.

3. But that stage, too, passes. And then we come to the quiet, steady, persistent “walk.” And it is this that tries our mettle most of all. For we have lost the exhilaration of youth and the stimulus of strong emotions. We traverse the solid unromantic ground of principle, while the ghost of many a shattered illusion haunts our path. It is the period of disenchantment; when we discover the bounds of the practical, and when we have a stronger sense of life’s limitations than of its possibilities. To do this makes greater demands upon our moral steadfastness than to do either of the before-mentioned stages in our life experience. Patiently to endure, persistently to press on--whatever the burdens we must carry, whatever the inequalities and roughnesses of the way, whatever the obstacles that lie and the enemies that lurk in our path, whatever the tempests that beat overhead--requires a strength of character and a heroism of soul that are the last achievement and the highest triumph of the spiritual life. (J. Halsey.)

The Christian’s walk

We find the same idea also in the New Testament with spiritual applications. There, throughout, we find the Divine life in man described as a “walk.” To “walk worthy of his high vocation” is the supreme exploit of the Christian’s faith. Other images are used; those of the runner in the stadium, and the wrestler in the arena; but it is always on the walking that stress is laid. It is the daily walk along the beaten path that reveals the depth and sincerity of our religion. Paul had had his eagle “flights,” but he did not make much of them. “Caught up into the third heaven” he had seen “visions and revelations”; but he does not appeal to them as any sign of special grace. He had “run” swiftly to and fro on many an errand of evangelisation; but he does not dwell on these as having called forth any remarkable manifestations of the Divine helpfulness. It was as he pursued the ordinary routine of his ministry along the common ways, with the humbling “thorn” ever rankling in his flesh, that he felt the need of and received special succour. It was in this greater exigency that his inner ear caught the promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” (J. Halsey.)

Standing still

But, you say, if this progression of ideas is a true climax, flying, running, walking--why stay there? Why not logically carry the idea further, and say that standing still is the sublimest consummation of the Divine life in many Even so. That is precisely what Paul does say. “Having done all, to stand!” It is when all the romance is past, when all the effervescence of youth has subsided, when all incitements from without and all excitements from within are over, when life has settled into its groove, and, surrounded by the monotonous and the sordid, we find our horizon limited by “the daily round” and “the common task”--it is then that faith rises to its true heroism, enabling us to maintain our spiritual level and hold our ground against the deadening inroads of formality and in differentism. (J. Halsey.)

Renewing strength

Human strength is of many kinds--physical, mental, spiritual; but every form of human strength must of necessity spend itself. All strength apart from God is derived strength, and is consequently measurable, and must come to an end. On the other hand, Divine strength never fails. These two things seem very far away: man with his faintness, God with His eternity and inexhaustible omnipotence. If we can bring these two together, what a wondrous thing will happen! Then the sacred words of the text will be fulfilled.

I. WE SEE HOW A TRUE CHURCH MAY BE DESCRIBED. “They that wait upon the Lord.”

II. WE SEE WHAT THE LORD’S WAITING PEOPLE NEED. To “renew their strength.”

1. Because they are human.

2. Because they are imperfect.

3. We must renew our strength, for it is for our honour, comfort, and safety.

4. It is for God’s glory and our own usefulness.

III. HOW ARE WE TO RENEW OUR STRENGTH? By continually waiting upon God. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The continued renewal of strength

No man is as strong as he desires to be. Many things he desires to do but cannot. He would exhaust his strength if he continued working. God has provided hours for rest and refreshment.

I. SPIRITUAL LIFE DEMANDS RENEWAL. Strength for to-day does not insure strength for to-morrow. Full provision has been made to supply this need of the soul. The bread of life for the hungry, the water of life for the thirsty.

II. ALL RENEWAL OF STRENGTH SHOULD BE REGULAR. Spasmodic efforts are dangerous. There must be a regular feeding on God’s Word and promises.

III. RENEWAL OF STRENGTH MEANS A RENEWAL OF ACTIVITY. Use all strength as a gift of God. When exhausted renew your power. (R. M.Donaldson, D. D.)

Waiting on God

This passage has the ring of an Alpine horn. It is very easy to misunderstand this word “wait,” and regard it as meaning inactive passivity. There is a vast deal of verve in the original Hebrew; it signifies to be strong enough to hold out. It expresses a solid endurability such as belongs to a stiff piece of oak that never bends and never breaks under heavy pressure. Thence the word came to signify patience as opposed to worry and despondency. “Waiting” denotes a habit of mind-a devout habit that loves to call on God, a submissive habit that is ready to receive just what God sees fit to send, an obedient habit that is glad to do just what God commands, a stalwart habit of carrying such loads as duty lays upon our backs. It is a religion of conscience, and not a mere effervescence of pious emotion. In short, it is a grace, just as much as the grace of faith, or love, or humility. If you and I have this grace, and if we practise it, what may we expect?

1. That God will “renew our strength.” For every new occasion, every new trial, every new labour, we shall get new power. If we have failed, or have been foiled, God will put us on our feet again. I have often gone to Saratoga, in the heat of the early summer, quite run down, and my vitality burned out as coal gets exhausted in the bunkers of a steamer. Then I repaired to one of the tonic springs and “waited” on its bubbling waters, trusting them and taking them into my system. Presently a new appetite for food was awakened, and a new life crept into my ten fingers; walking became a delight, and preaching as easy as for a lark to sing. All this renewal of vitality was the result of waiting on one of those wonderful healthfountains. I brought but little there. I took a great deal away. Just such a well of spiritual force is the Lord Jesus Christ. All the men and women of power are men and women of prayer. “Waiting on the Lord” by prayer has the same effect on them that it has on an empty bucket to set it under a rain-spout. They get filled. When I have heard C. H. Spurgeon pray I have not been so astonished at some of his discourses.

2. Waiting on God not only gives strength, it gives inspiration. “They shall mount up with wings as eagles.” God means that every soul which waits on Him shall not creep in the muck and the mire, nor crouch in abject slavery to men or devils. When a soul has its inner life hid with Christ and lives a life of true consecration it is enabled to take wing, and its “citizenship is in heaven.” He gains wide outlooks; he breathes a clear and crystalline atmosphere. He outflies many of the petty vexations and grovelling desires that drag a worldling down into the mire. What cares the eagle, as he bathes his wings in the translucent gold of the upper sky, for all the turmoil, the dust, or even the murky clouds that drift far beneath him? He flies in company with the sun. So a heaven-bound soul flies in company with God. (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Waiting on the Lord

I. One of the oldest and best tried rules of religion is THE SACRED DUTY OF COMMUNION WITH GOD. The expression “wait upon” is a most felicitous one, because while it includes prayer it means and covers so much more.

1. To wait on the Lord is the drawing nigh unto Him, to pour out our wants before Him, though He knows them so well, to plead the necessities arising out of our own ignorance, waywardness, and poverty of soul, to ask for His light to shine in our darkness, to clear our minds of the mists and fogs of native prejudice and of traditional error, to make plain before us our path of duty, and to keep our feet steadfast therein, to take into His loving hands the discipline and correction of our hearts, and to make us willing to undergo it, to keep us from all vanity and lies, and from every form of subtle self-deception, so that we may ever be true to Him and to ourselves. But waiting on the Lord implies much more than this. Although we have a perfect right to go to God and pour out every wish and longing of our hearts, worthy and unworthy alike, yet this is not by any means the whole or the highest part of communion with Him. Poor and barren and diseased must that heart be which has no song of praise to sing, no gratitude to pour forth for past deliverances and for present mercies, which has no emotion of adoring love for a goodness so infinite and untiring. To make our religion a delight and a glory we must surely wait on the Lord with songs of gladness and joy, praising Him more for what He is, and for what He has taught us to know and believe Him to be, than for the good gifts which His bounty hath bestowed.

2. Yet, further, there is a waiting on the Lord which is neither prayer nor praise, but silent and serene contemplation, when the mind muses upon His wondrous works and ponders over the stupendous fact that the infinite and eternal God can and will and does come near to the soul of His finite and imperfect creature man, and permits the ineffable solace and privilege of communion with Himself.

3. But all forms of waiting on the Lord involve the personal, conscious, voluntary act of the mind or soul within us, for which no mere ceremony or ritual can be a substitute. All outward observances, whether private or public, have no meaning, and can have no avail without that conscious voluntary movement of the soul towards God. If public worship helps you to this direct personal communion with God, I need not say you are bound to attend it; you are sure to do so of your own free will without any pressure. Experience has proved that, to a great many souls, public worship is the greatest help they ever get, that it gives wings to their holiest prayers and brightness to their gladdest songs of praise, and that it does bring them nearer to God than any other external agency that they know of. But this is not true of all. And I am bound to say that those who find the least pleasure and the least benefit from public worship are those who do not wait on the Lord in private. They do not know by experience the blessings of communion, and therefore these outward aids in public worship are of little use to them. It is like a banquet spread before one who has no appetite or whose habitual food is altogether different, or like a rich and perfect performance of music to one who is altogether destitute of any musical sense.

II. I turn now to dwell on THE NATURAL EFFECTS OF WAITING ON THE LORD, as stated by the prophet, and vouched for by myriads of the faithful and devout in all ages.

1. “They shall renew their strength.” This is what we all need in this weary world, whose toils and cares and temptations perpetually remind us of our weakness and the need of invigorating grace. We renew our strength in the battle with our besetting sin, in the conquest of fierce passions and unruly tempers, and in the maintenance and steadfastness of high resolve. We renew our strength to meet misfortunes and to carry our load of grief or bereavement, to keep a cheerful heart under the depression of disease, and when chilled by the cold shadow of death. And we renew our strength for all enterprise which makes demand on our courage and truthfulness.

2. This leads us to notice the three degrees of moral and spiritual activity presented to us in the figurative language of the prophet:. “They shall mount up on wings as eagles: they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Running and walking

Any racehorse will start at full speed; but how few have staying power! The tyro in cycling will go at full pelt; but only the experienced rider can walk or stand. To pursue the common track of daily duty--not faltering nor growing weary--to do so when novelty has worn off, when the elasticity of youth has vanished, when the applause of the crowd has become dim and faint--this is the greatest achievement of the Christian life. For this, earthly and human strength will not avail. But God is all-sufficient. (F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

God’s grace sufficient for all life’s stages

The spiritual teaching of this verse is, that for all the stages and moods of our life-pilgrimage Heaven’s grace is available and sufficient. (J. Halsey.)

They shall mount up with wings as eagles--

God’s eagles

I. The eagle is built for FLIGHT.

1. His structure marvellously combines strength, lightness, and muscular power. The anatomy of the bird shows feathers, bones, muscles, and sinews to be designed by the Creator for the purpose of flying; and a master specimen of perfect adaptation e.g., the cylindrical structure of bones and feathers makes each virtually a balloon, so that when the wings are spread for flight, the tendency is upward instead of downward, and no effort is needed to support the body upon the air, which rather buoys it up.

2. Built for high flights, capable of mounting above all other birds, no other being capable of rising to such elevations, or being so at home in the upper atmosphere. In fact, as the air becomes more ratified, the bird seems to soar with greater ease and rapidity, and finds it the more natural to ascend.

3. Built for sustained and tireless flights, maintaining himself without exhaustion for any length of time, and resting on the wing. Those who have watched the eagle’s flight have observed that there is no apparent effort; he rather finds in it rest and recreation than a struggle to maintain himself.

4. Built for fearless flight. The eagle soars above the abyss without even a trace of timidity, a stranger to all fear. What to us is danger, is to him delight, challenging and provoking his flight.

II. The eagle is built for REPOSE. No bird can be so still and motionless when he rests. When the eagle perches on the crag, and grasps it with his talons, the more he settles down, the firmer and more immovable his clutch. The anatomy of his legs exhibits the adaptation of his whole structure to the purposes of perching. The weight of the body, resting upon the lower portion of the legs, increases the tenacity of the hold upon whatever is chosen as a resting-place. His sleep, therefore, is secure, for h,.’s grasp can only relax as he rises upon his feet and so releases all the sinews by which his talons grip the rock. He goes to sleep, therefore, without a doubt that he will find himself there in the morning.

III. The eagle is built for the STORM. He perceives it afar off and is not afraid. This king of birds detects the approach of the storm-cloud, not only with eyes and ears, but with mysterious senses to which we are strangers; and, when as yet there is no appearance of the coming tempest above the horizon, he scents its approach, lifts up his majestic head, looks toward the coming storm, and prepares himself for a gigantic grapple with the forces of nature. He welcomes tempests before which wild beasts flee to their dens in terror. He preens his feathers, shakes himself as tornado and tempest approach, actually takes the very front and leads the storm, outflying it at its most rapid pace, rejoicing in its violence, and, when he will, rising far above it into the clear heights of cloudless day, whence he looks down upon it.

IV. The eagle LIVES A SOLITARY LIFE. There is no bird so alone. Other birds go in flocks; the eagle, never; if two are seen together, they are mates. Its majesty consists partly in its solitariness. It lives apart because other birds cannot live where and as it lives, and follow where it leads.

V. The eagle is TRAINED BY DISCIPLINE. The parent bird trains the young to fly; and, if need be, the mother pushes the young bird off the edge of the cliff, and lets it fall over into the abyss, and tumble screaming and screeching, apparently doomed to be dashed in pieces; but the mother bird watching, drops like a plummet, with incredible rapidity, beneath the young bird, and receives it on her broad maternal wings and bears it up to the heights only to let it drop again; until, by and by, the fledgling is prepared, as the mother bird swoops down to arrest its fall, to take the wing and follow the parent on her majestic flight.

VI. The healthy eagle IMPARTS STRENGTH. A sick eagle, whose vitality had been reduced by long confinement, was set loose and placed on the heather, but only drooped and seemed ready to die. Then another eagle, that from the heights saw the feeble bird, swept down and touched and fanned it with his great wings. This was repeated until the sick bird, gradually feeling the inspiration of the other’s vitality, preened itself, expanded its wings, and ultimately followed in the upward flight. We seldom get an upward look, aspiration, or ascent, unless someone from the heights sweeps down add touches us.

VII. The eagle, thus built for the heights, is NOT CONTENT TO DWELL ON EARTH. (W. P. Ray.)

Life with wings

Waiting is not so much a transient action as a permanent attitude. It is not the restless vagrant calling at the door for relief, it is rather the intimacy of the babe at the breast. They who thus wait upon the Lord shall obtain a marvellous addition to their resources. They shall obtain wings. We do well in picturing the angel presences to endow them with wings. At the best it is a clumsy symbolism. What do we mean by wings? We mean that life has gained new powers, extra ordinary capacity; the old self has received heavenly addition, endowing it with nimbleness, buoyancy, strength. What are some of the characteristics of life with wings?

1. It is life characterised by buoyancy. We become endowed with power to rise above things! How often we give the counsel one to another, “You should rise above it!” If, when we give the counsel, we could give the wings, the things that bind to the low plains of life might be left behind. How frequently we are held in bondage by grovelling to the mean and trifling. Some small grievance enters into our life and keeps us from the heights. Some disappointment holds us in depressing servitude. Some ingratitude paralyses our service and chills our delight in unselfish toil. Or some discourtesy is done to us, we cannot get away from it. Or, perhaps, it is “the murmur of self-will,” or “the storm of passion” which prevents our emancipation. When we get the wings we have the power to rise above these trifles, and even above the things that may be larger than trifles and may appear like gigantic hills. The life with wing-power is not the victim of “the spirit of heaviness.”

2. Life with wing-power is characterised by loftiness. “Mount up!” We speak of a “lofty character” as opposed to one who is low or mean. There is no feature that the Bible loves more to proclaim than this “aboveness.” “Seek the things that are above”; “Set your mind on things above.” It speaks also of dwelling” with Christ in the heavenly places.”

3. The wing-life is characterised by comprehensiveness. High soaring gives wide seeing. Loftiness gives comprehension. One man offers his opinion on some weighty matter and he is answered by the charge, “That is very low ground to take.” “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” It is well when we get so high that our vision comprehends our town, better still when it includes the country, better still when it encircles other countries, best of all when it engirdles the world. It is well when we are interested in home missions; better still when home and foreign work are comprehended in our view. “Lord, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.” How narrow the outlook! One day the vision of the disciples will be immeasurably enlarged.

4. The wing-life is characterised by proportion. To see things aright we must get away from them. We never see a thing truly until we see it in its relationships. We must see a moment in relation to a week, a week in relation to a year, a year in relation to eternity. Wing-power gives us the gift of soaring, and we see how things are related one to another. An affliction looked at from the lowlands may be stupendous; looked at from the heights it may appear little or nothing. “This light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” What a breadth of view! (J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

The happy effects of waiting upon God

They that wait upon the Lord mount up.

I. WITH THE VIGOUR OF EAGLES. In all true Christians there must be a considerable attention to heavenly things. They are all exhorted to “set their affections on things which are above, and not on things, which are on the earth.” Therefore, they cannot be true believers whose minds are not under the influence of spiritual and heavenly objects. But, among true Christians there is a great difference. Some have their minds much more in heaven than others. This difference arises from their difference in waiting upon God. Waiting upon God their faith becomes strong and lively; their love pure and fervent; their hope joyful and blessed. These graces, like the wings of an eagle, lift their souls above worldly things. Their flight is sustained so long as these wings of the renewed soul continue unwearied; and when, like all things belonging to the human soul, they wax feeble, their strength is renewed by waiting upon God. They who do not wait upon God are weighed down to the earth, and find the concerns of this world, like the fogs and mists of a darkened atmosphere, clouding their prospects and obstructing their progress.

II. WITH THE EASE OF THE EAGLE. There is not only a strength of character, but a simplicity, an ease belonging to them who wait upon God with diligence and constancy to which others who are deficient in this duty can never attain. Now religion is eminent and exalted in proportion as it is easy and unconstrained.

III. WITH THE ELEVATION OF EAGLES. With what majesty does the eagle soar through the heavens and pursue his lofty course, unmoved by those little persecutions of the feathered race which equally bespeak their fear, and their conscious inferiority! Here you behold a fit emblem of the man who, by waiting upon God, mounts up with wings; and, nobly disregarding the censures of the world, which originate in a consciousness of its own inferior excellence, and in a hatred of those qualities it can never reach, pursues his heavenly flight without one retaliating stroke, without one malignant feeling. And see how, even in his sublimest course, his eagle eye surveys with interest the concerns of this lower world. By waiting upon God he is enabled to unite the benevolence, the magnanimity, and the heavenliness of the saint, with the sobriety, the wisdom, and the activity of the citizen of the world. (M. Jackson.)

Mounting as on eagle’s wings

This is the disposition of good Christians to be heavenly in their meditations and desires. This they are upon these grounds--

1. Out of respect to Christ who is their Head, and is in heaven already Colossians 3:1).

2. The new nature which is in Christians inclines them hereunto likewise. What makes fire to go upward? It has a principle in it which does so dispose it. Everything acts suitably to its principles, and so it is here. Believers are born from above, and therefore it is that they are carried up thither.

3. The end they are ordained to. They are “begotten to a lively hope,” and to a “heavenly inheritance.” Now where should the minds of great heirs be but where their estates lie? (1 Peter 1:3-4.) (T. Horton, D. D.)

Wings

1. The real marrow of life is in its higher experiences. We manage to endure a great deal that is disagreeable and depressing, if now and then come seasons of spiritual uplifting, moments of soul glow and sunrise. “They shall mount up on wings as eagles.” This is our privilege. The soul is free. It has wings in the joy of pure emotion, in the upspringing might of faith, in the ardour of heavenly aspiration, in the swift flight of love, in the liberty of exultant hope.

2. With some these wings are often folded. They droop often through sheer weariness. They trail frequently in the dust. Making ample allowance for differences in temperament and scope of thought in individuals, the devout nature is not ignorant of blessed experiences that impel the soul onward--sympathies, insights, ardours--refreshing and enriching to the hidden life.

3. A few hints will awaken precious memories. You remember how the spring odours of the tender-leaved woods seized your finer sense as you came forth from the place of prayer, and wafted your thought to the trees of Paradise. More than once, in the solitude and by the sea, amid the noon’s delicious peacefulness, and when the fresh winds blew health and music out of the west, over leagues of prairie, starred with unnumbered flowers, your heart overran with sacred emotion, and expanded to embrace the beautiful repose! Wings were yours. Then, too, after a season of spiritual depression, where you had gone mournfully with a sense of barrenness and burden, the painful spell was finally broken, and you seemed set in “a large place.” Your soul bounded outward into blessed light. Great freedom was yours, and you wondered why such doubt could have fettered the faith that now exults in the joyful confidence of a son beloved. You remember how, before now, you have come into the church heavy, gloomy, discouraged, an evil world shadowing your hope, and life looking sepulchral and poor amid earth’s losses and changes and delusions, and how hymn and psalm and confession and prayer have little by little stolen away your unrest, and then how the Word of grace uttered from the depths of a prophetic soul flowed with healing, and light, and comfort, to your heart, and how, on the wings of its benediction, you rose up stronger and clearer visioned, and went forth as on the landscape of a better world.

But it is in the closet, if you live nobly, that your strength is most graciously renewed.

4. We give grudgingly, we labour in heaviness, we minister painfully, we worship coldly, we live meanly, until the higher life is begotten within us--until the soul gets a glow, and an earnestness, and a breadth of sympathy, and an impulse of high and pure aspirations that make it a joy to do good. Love is always winged. If you would conquer your besetments, rise to a more gracious benevolence, enjoy a livelier consciousness of eternal things, and have your Christian duties delightful; get the ardent, unselfish, consecrated heart of love, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Inspirer and Comforter. (H. N. Powers.)

As eagles

I. THE ILLUSTRATION.

1. Eagles’ wings are connected with strength. God spoke by Moses to the children of Israel on this wise--“Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto Myself.” Here God’s almighty power, displayed in the deliverance from Egypt, and with all the varied privileges of Israel, is compared to the strength of eagles’ wings. In Deuteronomy 32:11, it is said, “As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings, so the Lord alone did lead him.” Here the eagle’s wings are brought before us in connection with the support of the young, but at the same time with the purpose which the parent bird has in disturbing her nest and her young, namely, to teach them to provide and to fly. All this is more than verified in the experience of those who wait upon the Lord. They are strong, and their strength is continually being renewed--which no circumstances can exhaust, and which in no emergency will be allowed to fail them. Wherein does the strength of the believer rest, then? The apostle John describes this strength when he says, “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the Word of God abideth in you; and ye have overcome the wicked one.” In other words, the strength of the believer is manifested in opposition to moral and spiritual evil--in opposition to all that is erroneous and contrary to the will and mind of God. Error is very attractive to some minds, but he who waits upon the Lord obtains that spiritual vigour of mind which enables him to throw off the poisonous influence of error, and to abide in the truth. True manliness consists in refusing to do what is wrong, whoever be the tempter, or whatever inducements there be to give way to the temptation. True Christian manliness fears God, and fears no one besides. The promise of the text, then, is that such true energy of mind shall belong to those who wait upon the Lord. It is strength which St. Paul describes as connected with the power of God’s might. It is strength which is manifested oftentimes in connection with human weakness, and with the changes that are incident to our human and worldly condition. Observe the expression, “shall renew their strength”; for the eagle, although noted for its strength, is not always strong. There is a season when it loses the feathers of its wings, and sits solitary, drooping, and sad, unable to seize upon its prey, and no longer the terror of the smaller birds; but it is noted that during that season, though the eagle cannot rise to the sun as she was wont to do, she shows herself to the sun, and basking in the sunshine, her feathers grow again, her strength comes back, and she mounts up and meets the sun as of old. And what a striking indication this is of the experiences of those who are “strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might”! It is not strength which is liable to no variableness. There are seasons of depression for those who are strong in the Lord.

2. But the Bible speaks of the eagle, and of eagle’s wings, in connection with swiftness. If you refer to Deuteronomy 28:49, you will find it said, in reference to the judgment which the Lord would bring upon Israel if they persevered in sin, “The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand.” We may see the fulfilment of this by referring to the Lamentations of Jeremiah (Lamentations 4:19). The eagle’s wings are used for the swiftness with which they propel the eagle in his Right. The believer, waiting upon God, is one whose experience is described in the sacred song in this remarkable language--“Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib”--chariots noted for swiftness.

3. The eagle is noted for its peculiarity of flight. It is said that it is furnished with two pairs of eyelids, and that the inner one is transparent, and is drawn over the eye because its flight is always directly towards the sun. Whereas other birds see other objects in the light of the sun, it is the eagle’s peculiarity of flight that its eye seems to be fixed upon the sun, and the eyelid of which I speak seems to be for the purpose of pro tecting the eye from the scorching brilliancy of the sunlight. Now, in this respect there is a similarity to the experience of those who wait upon the Lord. The believer in Jesus Christ is one whose tendency is directly to the Sun of

Righteousness. And what a consolation it is, that in the humanity of Jesus the believer finds protection from all that is awful in contemplation of Deity!

4. The flight of the eagle is the flight of life. Think of the contrast between the flight of an arrow and the flight of an eagle. The flight of the arrow is only as high as it is propelled by the impulse that is given to it from the bow; when that impulse ceases, down comes the arrow again. It is not the flight of life, but of impulse. The flight of the arrow may be likened to those impulses for good which some who profess and call themselves Christians have.

II. WHO ARE THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD? And when is it that they are experiencing this blessed promise? The eagle is flying highest when she sees the world the least. The eagle rejoices in light. When she mounts up with her strongest wings it is in the sunlight, contrasting this respect with the flight of the bird of night. It is always a good sign, when we want the light thrown upon everything that we have to do with--when we want to bring all our motives, and all our actions, and all our plans into the light of God’s truth. On the other hand, “He that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds be reproved.” (W. Cadman, M. A.)

The wings of surrender and trust

We might name our wings the wings of surrender and trust. If we will only surrender ourselves utterly to the Lord, and will trust Him perfectly, we shall find our souls “mounting up with wings as eagles” to the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, where earthly annoyances or sorrows have no power to disturb us. (Mrs. Pearsall Smith.)

Crawling and soaring

The caterpillar, as it creeps along the ground, must have a widely different, view of the world around it, from that which the same caterpillar will have when its wings are developed, and it soars in the air above the very places where once it crawled. And similarly the crawling soul must necessarily see things in a very different aspect from the soul that has “mounted up with wings.” (Mrs. Pearsall Smith.)

Overcoming

This is what the soul on wings does. It overcomes the world through faith. To overcome means to “come over,” not to be crushed under; and the soul on wings flies over this world and the things of it. (Mrs. Pearsall Smith.)

Spiritual difficulties

A friend once illustrated to me the difference between three of her friends in the following way. She said, if they should all three come to a spiritual mountain which had to be crossed, the first one would tunnel through it with hard and wearisome labour; the second would meander around it in an indefinite fashion, hardly knowing where she was going, and yet because her aim was right, getting around it at last; but the third, she said would just flap her wings and fly right over. (Mrs. Pearsall Smith.)

Wings must be used

Not the largest wings ever known can lift a bird one inch upward unless they are used. (Mrs. Pearsall Smith.)

Weights holding the soul to earth

As well might an eagle try to fly with a hundred-ton weight tied fast to its feet, as the soul try to “mount up with wings” while a weight of earthly cares and anxieties is holding it down to earth. (Mrs. Pearsall Smith.)

“With wings as eagles”

Once when I was in Switzerland I saw an eagle, a splendid bird, but it was chained to a rock. It had some twenty or thirty feet of chain attached to its legs, and to an iron bolt in the rock. There was the king of birds, meant to soar into heaven, chained down to earth. That is the life of multitudes of believers. Are you allowing business, are you allowing the cares of the world, are you allowing the flesh to chain you down, so that you cannot rise up?

1. You ask me, How can I get these eagle wings? I answer, How did the eagle get its wings? By its birth. It was born a royal eagle; it had a royal descent. And every child of God is born with eagle wings. God means you to live a heavenly life.

2. How does God teach His eaglet children to use their wings? He comes and stirs up their nest. Sometimes with a trying providence, with a death, with sickness, with loss, with some tribulation, with temptation. Why? Just as those eaglets, ready to sink, find the mother coming under them and carrying them, so the everlasting arms are stretched out underneath the soul that feels itself ready to perish, and God calls upon the soul to trust Him. As the eaglet trusts the mother to carry it, God asks me to trust Him, that He will bear me. And God longs to teach His children to mount on eagle wings. But how can they do it? “They that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings as eagles.” God often comes to the Christian worker and stirs up the nest, because He sees the eagle wings are not being used.

3. What is the characteristic of the eagle wings? To be able to mount up to heaven, the wings of the eagle must have greater strength than the wings of any other bird. And God wants His children to be so strong that they can live above the world. The great mark of the disciple of Christ that Christ spoke of in His prayer to the Father was, “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.” They belong to heaven, their life and heart are there. This idea of strength is the great idea of our text, and you have it in the words that precede (Isaiah 40:28-31). You find that word “faint” four times in the passage. First, it is God “fainteth not”; and then it is, He giveth power to the “faint”; and then it is, the young men shall “faint.” All human strength shall faint--the very strongest shall faint and be of no avail. Then, “They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not ‘faint.’” (Andrew Murray.)

The glory of the common life

This movement from the wing of the eagle to the foot of man is no descending path, no record of decaying spiritual vigour, but rather the ascending line of life.

1. Religion is not some highly wrought emotional experience--rare, ecstatic, lifting us into the seventh heaven; but an accession of permanent spiritual power to enable us to do the work of our everyday life and grow in the grace of a normal Christian character. In the common experience of man all true religion begins on the soaring wing of some strong emotion, some wave of feeling that comes over the heart for mercies received. It was as Moses when God met him in the desert of Horeb and showed him the burning bush, a rare sight, a moment of vision of heavenly things from which all future experiences were to be dated. The common lot of man falls upon the believer; the moment of thrill and ecstasy passes away. Moses has to go down to Egypt among the politicians and do the hard work and drudgery of life. Is, then, the ecstasy a waste of force? Moses, as he turned to the worrying work of rounding up the Israelites for the long journey over seas and across the desert, may frequently have thought that God s service had not procured for him either the ease or the honour that the ecstatic experiences of the burning bush had promised. But when we look back on the life and work of the great statesman we can see that the burning bush was but an ancillary incident in a great moral career; and that the patient, daily labour, the unflinching loyalty to duty, which for forty years had to be pursued in all weathers and in all moods, are the facts that loom large like mountain peaks in this great life. It was to warm his heart and inspire his spirit for those days of toil and nights devoid of ease that the vision was given. It was precisely the same truth that we find illustrated in the religious experience of the apostle Paul. His spiritual life began with a celestial vision; and in its upward development he came, not to more and clearer visions, but to the perception of a sanctity and nobility which lay in the common work of life. The Christian man as father and priest in his own household hallows his home by the benediction of his morning prayers. You do not regard your morning prayer as false and futile because during the day you cannot live up to all your own high ideals. The aspiration to be better is itself the accession of power to do better. This truth, so full of the poetry of passion and the deepest philosophy of life, is brought to us with wonderful force and tenderness in Hogg’s “Skylark.” The wild abandon of feeling that carried the songster so far into the sky was not frenzy nor foolishness because he had to come back and gather worms for the nestlings. On the contrary, there had been no nestlings but for the emotion that produced that song. And the song of rapture found its crowning glory in the lowly service of the obscure nest.

2. The intellectual man is in danger of disparaging the emotions and of setting aside the mysticism and ecstasy of the soul as mere fancies and dreams. But the emotional man is in still greater danger of regarding them as the only kind of religious experiences worth seeking after, the only evidence of true religion in the heart, and certainly the glory of the Christian life. In a word, the emotional man regards the glory and crown of life to be the rapture and ecstasy of the love and faith, and not the works and character which these feelings should produce. He mistakes the means for the end. In the effort to correct this mistake we must go the length of saying that love to and trust in Christ are not religion at all; just as seeds are not trees. They become religion only as they are transmuted into Christian character in the daily work and warfare of the common life. It is of vital importance that people should understand the laws of life in regard to the relation of emotions to acts. Pleasure is not an end, but the servant of higher and nobler ways of living. Nature provides that eating and drinking shall be a pleasure to man; but what is the man called who cares merely for the pleasure of eating; who lives to gratify his appetites and never does an honest day’s work for the food he consumes? No deeper stain, no more deadly practice can come into our life than the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake. The moment you love the excitement more than the work, so that you come soon to steal the excitement and shirk the work, nature revenges herself on you by making all such work as you are forced to do a drudgery instead of a pleasure. I have heard hard-working wives and mothers say, “I have lost my religion! I have so many little children to care for, so many duties in the home that I cannot get to church.” Is not this mother’s care and self-sacrifice for her children her religion? What did she love and trust Christ for? That she might gad about at religious meetings, or that she might bring up her little ones m the fear of

God? She and her child, with the sense of the presence of the Father-God, make that nursery the holiest of shrines. If a youth should learn mathematics and mensuration in school for the purpose of making him a surveyor, and then be sent out into the prairies or the Rocky Mountains for six months to apply his theoretical knowledge to the practical work of his profession, you would pronounce him crazy if, when he came back with a successful survey of the region, he should say, “Yes, that is good work, but I have lost my mathematics; I was not in a school all those six months.” The mathematics were a means to an end. If faith and love to God are spiritual things, then their glory lies just in this--that they are not dependent outlines and places, on churches, on moods or sentiments. It is not the state of “feeling good” that makes a man a humble, true Christian, but the act of doing good. Faith and prayer and the emotional exaltation of the church service are only the raw material out of which religion is made. Religion is life, and the deepest and grandest of all the realities of life. Life is known and expressed only as we test and try the religious emotions in all those various phases of business and social activity. The eagle’s wing can carry me far, but it is in danger of leaving me remote, and so out of touch with common men and common interests. I want to be able to walk without weariness, to sympathise with plain people, to enter into the lowly door of pity, to keep company with the plodding man on the highway, and the toilers in the field. (D. Beaton, D. D.)

The ecstasies and commonplaces of love

Nature makes no mistakes in the manner in which it moves its creatures in those elemental feelings which have the perpetuation of life as their object. She is far-sighted, she has purposes in view. The lover is to become a husband; the husband is a protector and provider: the duties incident to that lot are prosaic and often dull. In a word, the common lot is soon to fall upon those two souls now transported into the seventh heaven by the ecstasies of love. They will have to discuss ways and means of domestic economy. Salaries and savings, the price of meat and babies’ clothes, not to speak of new gowns for this paragon of beauty herself, will all be serious questions that cannot be effectually settled without a good deal of the tenderness that still warms their hearts from the old ecstasy. (D. Beaton, D. D.)

The Christian’s air-ship

I. NOTE CERTAIN FACTS OF AERIAL FLIGHT to illustrate some experience of a soul elevated to fellowship with God.

1. As with the aeronaut so with the Christian, the higher he rises from earth the smaller the world appears. Afflictions seem “light” and “but for a moment.” Honour, wealth, and all material things seem mere earth toys.

2. As with the air navigator, so with the Christian rising from the earth, impurities and discord are left below. The soul that waits upon God and rises to the high privileges tendered by the grace of God, rises above the nauseating vices and conquering swarms of poisonous temptations, and the annoying, stinging adversities incident to sinful human life.

3. As with the sailor of the air in his realm, so with the Christian in his, each gets a better, broader view and a truer perspective as he rises. To the aeronaut the horizon is widened. True experimental religion is exceedingly broad, sane, and tolerant. It holds truest ideas as well as loftiest ideals. Not he who comes close and stays close to some little wall of prejudice, some river of personal preference, some mountain of hereditary impulse, or some self-constructed village of creeds, but he who on wings of faith rises to higher altitudes for observation and sees all and each in its relation to all others--such hold opinions most in accord with truth.

4. As with the navigator of the air in his realm, so with the Christian in the spiritual realm, each is inspired with healthful vigour as he rises, the one on the wings of the wind and the other on the wings of an intelligent, rational faith and the exercise of his soul in prayer. Dr. Naiger, at a meeting of the Academy of Medicine in France, tells us that ascension into the air acts as a powerful tonic; that the red corpuscles of blood are multiplied in a remarkable degree and with astonishing rapidity; further, that the recuperated condition remains for some time after the navigator returns to the ground. He gives it as his professional opinion that five brief air-ship trips are of more value to a consumptive than would be a summer in the mountains. As Christians, we cannot get permanently away from the world of sin any more than the air navigator can get permanently away from terra firma. We go like the disciples of old with Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration, to our public and private devotions, to gather strength for the duties that will appear in the valley.

II. NOTE SOME OF THE PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH SUCCESSFUL AERIAL NAVIGATION DEPENDS, as typical of the principles of true spiritual life.

1. One principle which has been quite lately discovered, and which is held by at least one school of aerial scientists, is that the elevating power and the propelling power must be from the same source, and all are agreed that they must be in harmony, and so arranged that they will in no way conflict. The balloon idea as an elevating power is constantly lifting straight upward, while a propelling power of some kind of enginery drawing horizontally is constantly in conflict with the elevating power. Prof. Thomas May, in The Aeronautical Journal, declares that before there can be successful navigation of the air, the propelling power and the elevating power must be in exact harmony, if not produced by the same appliance Some very successful experiments have been made with “gliding-machines,” the balloon idea having been abandoned in these appliances. And with this principle the Wright brothers have been enabled to move their machines near the earth or far away as they choose, sometimes gliding only a few inches from the surface. For the Christian to make progress in his spiritual flight, whether near to or far from the earth, this principle must be rigidly enforced and carefully observed. God’s Spirit is the elevating power. Our own wills and purposes constitute the propelling power of the soul. These must be in harmony with the will of God, be submerged into His will, so that the elevating power and the propelling power are one in every essential, though some way God needs the modifying elements of our own consecrated purposes. For while “we can do nothing without Him,” it is equally true that in practical, spiritual grace He has so arranged His plans that He does nothing without us.

2. Note one more principle of aerodynamics, which is called the Langley law because it was discovered and applied by Prof. S.P. Langley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and the inventor of an air-ship device known as Langley’s aeridrome. The law is that as the speed of a flying-machine increases, the power necessary to propel it decreases in definite proportions. Theoretically, this is true indefinitely; but, practically, only to a certain limit. Just why, when the working hypothesis is tried, the experiment fits the theory only to a certain limit, has not yet been fully explained; but the theory has been demonstrated so that it is worthy of a place among scientific principles. The law certainly prevails within the limit of natural and acquired ability, and modified by opportunity, in the human soul in its operations in the spiritual realm. The more decidedly and persistently, determinedly and vigorously, the Christian prosecutes his spiritual movements, the easier it becomes for him to do so, and he finds by practical experiment that as he advances he is able to accomplish more and more with less and less of propelling power. More and more he speeds along with less of emotional feeling and persistent determination. (F. W.Luce, D. D.)

The eagle’s strength

The swiftness of its flight shows its strength. The eagle is often known to fly at the rate of between forty and fifty miles an hour. Then, the great height to which it flies shows its strength. Then, in the food which it carries to its nest for its young ones to eat, we see the strength of the eagle. It carries geese, and turkeys, and kids, and lambs, and even little children for its young ones to feed on. In one of the cantons of Switzerland, two little girls were playing together in a meadow; one of them was about three years old, and the other five. While they were busy in their play, an eagle came and swooped down upon them. He seized hold of the elder child, and carried her away to his nest, which was about the distance of a mile and a half from where he found the child. And there the remains of the poor child were found by a hunter some time afterwards. (R. Newton, D. D.)

Living above the world

Observatories used to be erected in the heart of cities, but it was found that these were the worst places for them. The atmosphere is obscured, the instruments do not act properly, and now they are built thousands of feet above the sea. We must rise into God’s own climate if we would see things in God’s own light, and correct our consciences by the eternal. Just as man lives on a high level he is safe from moral contamination and hurt. I have read that when the eagle flies in the depth of blue the bullet of the sportsman merely brushes his feathers. Its force is all spent before it reaches him. The eagle shakes it disdainfully from his wings, and soars away into the heavenly places. Travellers tell us that in the Australian forests it is almost impossible to bring down a cockatoo, because the bird seeks refuge in the highest branches of the gigantic trees. It is no use fighting temptation on a low level. Fly high, and its bullets will be spent before they reach you. (W. L. Watkinson.)

They shall run, and not be weary

The unwearied runner

I. THE RUNNING. There are different paces among the Lord’s servants: Ahimaaz is swifter than Cushi, and John outruns Peter, but he who by faith has truly entered upon the road to heaven, though his march be slow and limping, shall nevertheless ultimately reach his journey’s end. Scores of timid believers creep towards heaven as the snail crept into the ark. However, there is no reason why you should imitate these slowly moving pilgrims; if Mephibosheth be lame in both his feet, it is not desirable that you should imitate his limp.

1. Running is the pace of energy. Be it yours and mine to outstrip the energy of this world, and so to run in our Master’s ways as to prove that the servants of Christ can render Him more loyal and devoted service than princes win from their favourites and flatterers.

2. Running is a pace which indicates fulness of alacrity. Mark often uses about our Lord the words “straightway” and “immediately.” Mark’s is the Gospel descriptive of Christ as a servant, and it is one of the attributes of a good servant that he is prompt at once to do his lord’s bidding.

3. To run is to be diligent.

4. Running indicates thorough-going hearty zeal.

II. I shall COMMEND THE RUNNING.

1. Running is most commendable, because it is a warming pace.

2. Running is a pace that clears the ground.

3. It is a cheering pace.

4. It is the winning pace.

5. It is a fitting pace for a believer.

III. THE RUNNER’S GIRDLE. “They that wait upon the Lord shall run, and not be weary.” What is it to “wait upon the Lord”? Singleness of eye in serving God, simplicity of dependence upon the Divine power, and constant expectation that the power will be given.

IV. THE RUNNER’S STAFF. The runner’s consolation lies in this promise, that “he shall not be weary.” How is it that running Christians do not become weary?

1. Because they have daily strength given them for all their daily needs.

2. As the Christian advances he finds fresh matter to interest him.

3. Above all, there is one fact that keeps the Christian from weariness, namely, that he looks to the end, to the recompense of the reward. (C. H.Spurgeon.)

They shall walk, and not faint

They shall walk, and not faint

When [the prophet] says last, and most impressively, of his people’s fortunes, that “they shall walk, and not faint,” he has, perhaps, just those long centuries in view, when, instead of a nation of enthusiasts taking humanity by storm, we see small bands of pioneers pushing their way from city to city by the slow methods of ancient travel,--Damascus, Antioch, Tarsus, Iconium, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, and Rome--everywhere that Paul and the missionaries of the Cross found a pulpit and a congregation ready for the Gospel; toiling from day to day at their own trades, serving the alien for wages, here and there founding a synagogue, now and then completing a version of their Scriptures, often times achieving martyrdom, but ever living a pure and a testifying life in face of the heathen, with the passion of these prophecies at their hearts. It was certainly for such centuries and such men that the word was written, “they shall walk, and not faint.” (Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)
.


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Isaiah 40:31". The Biblical Illustrator. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/isaiah-40.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But they that wait upon the Lord,.... As children on their parents, to do them honour, to obey their commands, and receive food and blessings from them; as servants on their masters, to know their pleasure, do their work, and have their wages; as clients on their patrons, to have advice of them, put their cause into their hands, and know how it goes; and as beggars at the door, who knock and wait, tell their case and wait, meet with repulses, yet keep their place, and continue waiting: such an act supposes a knowledge and reverence of God, confidence in him, attendance on him, not with the body only, in public and private, but with the soul also, and with some degree of constancy, and with patience and quietness: the Lord is to be waited upon for the manifestations of himself, who sometimes hides himself, but is to be waited for, since he has his set time to show himself again, and his presence is worth waiting for; also for the performance of his promises, which may be expected from his perfections, the nature of the promises, and their being in Christ; likewise for answers of prayer, and for the fresh discoveries of pardoning grace and mercy; and as Old Testament saints waited for the first coming of Christ, so New Testament saints for his second coming, and for eternal glory and happiness: and such "shall renew their strength"; which is to be understood of spiritual! strength in the heart, and of the graces of the Spirit there: it supposes strength received already, which natural men have not, but converted men have; and yet they want more, and more they shall have; to assist them in the performance of duty, to enable them to resist Satan and his temptations, and the corruptions of nature, and to cause them to endure afflictions and persecutions patiently, and to persevere unto the end:

they shall mount up with wings as eagles; swiftly and strongly; it is expressive of the motion of the affections heavenwards towards God and Christ, and things above; of the entrance of faith and hope within the veil, and of the exercise of these graces on Christ, who is now at the right hand of God; of the expectation of glory and happiness in heaven hereafter, and of present support under afflictions, the Lord bearing them as on eagles' wings; see Psalm 103:5 F7The Jews have a notion, that for ten years the eagle ascends very high in the firmament of heaven, and approaching near to the heat of the sun, it falls into the sea, through the vehemence of the heat; and then it casts its feathers, and is renewed again, and its feathers grow, and it returns to the days of its youth; and so every ten years to a hundred; and in the hundredth year it ascends according to its custom, and falls into the sea, and dies. So Ben Melech from Saadiab Gaon. :

they shall run, and not be weary; in the way of God's commandments; which shows great affection for them, haste to obey them, delight and pleasure, cheerfulness and alacrity, therein, so as to be without weariness:

and they shall, walk, and not faint: in the ways of God, in the name of the Lord, or in Christ, as they have received him; leaning on him, trusting in him, continuing to do so, till they receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls; and so shall not sink under their burdens, nor give out till they enjoy it; different persons, though all of them believers, may be here intended; particularly Christians under the Gospel dispensation, tried and exercised by many enemies; some shall soar aloft, and dwell on high; others, though they cannot rise and "fly" so swiftly and strongly, yet shall "run" without weariness; and others, though they can neither fly nor run, yet shall "walk" without fainting.


Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-40.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

mount up — (2 Samuel 1:23). Rather, “They shall put forth fresh feathers as eagles” are said to renovate themselves; the parallel clause, “renew their strength,” confirms this. The eagle was thought to molt and renew his feathers, and with them his strength, in old age (so the Septuagint, Vulgate, Psalm 103:5). However, English Version is favored by the descending climax, mount up - run - walk; in every attitude the praying, waiting child of God is “strong in the Lord” (Psalm 84:7; Micah 4:5; Hebrews 12:1).


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/isaiah-40.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Wait — That rely upon him.

Renew — Shall grow stronger and stronger.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/isaiah-40.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

31.But they that wait for Jehovah. Hebrew writers employ the phrase, “exchanging strength,” (131) to denote “gathering new strength,” and thus “being restored.” The Prophet therefore shews, that godly persons, who shall hope in God, will not be deficient in strength; and he confirms what he formerly said,

“In rest and silence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15.)

We must not become agitated, or throw ourselves forward rashly, but “wait” patiently. In this passage, therefore, waiting means nothing else than patience. Violent men dash themselves to pieces by their own eagerness, but the vigor of godly men, though it has less display, and often appears to lie buried while they calmly “wait for” God’s assistance, is refreshed and renewed. We must therefore return to the saying of Paul, that

“the power of God is made perfect in our weakness.”
(
2 Corinthians 12:9.)

We must, therefore be fully convinced of our weakness, that we may yield to the power of God. The Jews, who were oppressed by that cruel captivity, had great need of this doctrine; but for us also, during this wretchedly ruinous condition of the Church, it is exceedingly needful.

They shall raise their wings as eagles. It is generally believed that the Prophet uses this phrase in the same sense that the Psalmist says,

“Thy youth shall be renewed like that of the eagle.”
(
Psalms 103:5.)

It is certain that the “eagle” is very long-lived as compared with other birds.

Aristotle and Pliny affirm that it never dies of old age, but of hunger; that is, that when the upper part of the beak becomes too large, it cannot take food into its mouth, and for a long time subsists entirely on what it drinks. One Zaadias, as all Jews are audacious in constructing fables, pretends that the eagle flies upward into the region that is near the sun, and approaches the sun so closely, that its old wings are burned, and other new ones grow in their place; but this is utterly absurd and fabulous. The Prophet means that they who trust in the Lord will be vigorous, like eagles, till the most advanced old age. But seeing that eagles fly higher than other birds, by which they shew remarkable swiftness, which has also given rise to the proverb, “An eagle among the clouds,” this passage may be understood to denote not only long life, but also strength and agility; so that Isaiah, after having shewn that their strength is recruited, adds that they are more vigorous, and ascend to a great height. Such is also the import of what follows, —

They shall run and shall not be weary. It is as if he had said, that the Lord will assist them, so that they shall pursue their course without any molestation. It is a figurative expression, by which he intimates that believers (132) will always be ready to perform their duty with cheerfulness. But it will be said, “There are so many troubles which we must endure in this life; how then does he say that we shall be exempt from weariness?” I reply, believers are indeed distressed and wearied, but they are at length delivered from their distresses, and feel that they have been restored by the power of God; for it happens to them according to the saying of Paul,

“While we are troubled on every side, we are not overwhelmed; we are perplexed, but are not in despair; we suffer persecution, but are not forsaken; we are cast down, but are not destroyed.”
(
2 Corinthians 4:8.)

Let us therefore learn to flee to the Lord, who, after we have encountered many storms, will at length conduct us to the harbor; for he who hath opened up a path, and hath commanded us to advance in that course in which he hath placed us, does not intend to assist us only for a single day, and to forsake us in the middle of our course, (Philippians 1:6,) but will conduct us to the goal.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-40.html. 1840-57.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE SECRET OF IMMORTAL YOUTH

‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’

Isaiah 40:31

I. Consider, first, what it is to wait upon the Lord.—Three things make it: service, expectation, patience. ‘Wait on the Lord.’ We must be as those Eastern maidens who, as they ply their needle or their distaff, look to the eye and wait upon the hand of their mistress, as their guide which is to teach them, or their model which they are to copy. Our best lessons are always found in a Father’s eye. Therefore, if you would ‘wait upon the Lord, you must be always looking out for voices—those still small voices of the soul—and you must expect them, and you must command them. But service, however devoted, or expectation, however intense, will not be waiting without patience. Here is where so many fail. The waiting times are so long; the interval between the prayer and the answer, between the repentance and the peace, between the work and the result, between sowing-time and reaping-time, and we are such impatient, impetuous creatures. We could not ‘tarry the Lord’s leisure.’

II. Consider, next, the action: elevation, rapid progress, a steady course—soar, run, walk.—Is it not just what we want—to get higher, to go faster, and to be more calmly consistent? (1) Elevation. What are the wings? Beyond a doubt, faith, prayer; or, if you will, humility and confidence in a beautiful equipoise, balancing one another on either side, so that the soul sustains itself in mid-air and flies upward. (2) ‘They shall run.’ Have you ever noticed how the servants of God in the Bible—from Abraham and David to Philip in the Acts—whenever they were told to do anything always ran. It is the only way to do anything well. A thousand irksome duties become easy and pleasant if we do them runningly, that is with a ready mind, an affectionate zeal, and a happy alacrity. (3) But there is something beyond this. It is more difficult to walk than to run. To maintain a quiet, sustained walk, day by day, in the common things of life, in the house and out of the house, not impulsive, not capricious, not changeable—that is the hardest thing to do. Let me give four rules for this walk: (a) Start from Christ; (b) walk with Christ; (c) walk leaning on Christ; (d) walk to Christ.

Rev. James Vaughan.

Illustration

‘In the ministry of Christian service the last is the best. It may be best with us long after the two pence are spent, when we are spending more and more, and yet spending far more consciously than before what is not ours by nature. The promise marks an ascent, though it may not seem to do so. “They shall mount up on wings as eagles.” There is a better thing, “They shall run, and not be weary,” and best of all there is this, “They shall walk, and not faint.” It is the climax of covenant grace.

So as of old I follow Him

Only another way;

When the lights of the world are growing dim,

And my heart already is singing the hymn

Of twilight grown to day.’


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". Church Pulpit Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/isaiah-40.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

Ver. 31. Shall renew their strength.] Heb., Shall change, quotidie seipsis fortiores prodeuntes. By the new "supplies of the Spirit," [Philippians 1:19] they shall pass from strength to strength. [Psalms 84:7] "They shall mount as eagles." {see Psalms 103:5} R. Saadias saith, that every tenth year the eagle mounteth up to the orb of the sun, singeth her wings there, and so reneweth her age, till she be a hundred.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/isaiah-40.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

MY soul! hear what thy Lord saith in this blessed chapter, and behold how he hath both commanded his people to be comforted, and provided every means for their comfort. Precious Lord Jesus! in thee and thy great salvation, I do indeed see a most blessed and suitable provision for pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin; yea, Lord, in thy full and finished redemption, I do behold how Jehovah hath received more than an equivalent, yea double for all the sins of thy people. And shall not my soul rejoice and be comforted in the consolation? Shall not my very heart leap for joy, and my poor tongue, that was dumb by nature, be ready to sing plainly? Yea, Lord, I will sing, and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, and thou art become my salvation. I will call upon all within me, and all without me, to join in the joyful service. I will say, with the Prophet, Sing, O ye heavens, for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.

But chiefly shall my note of praise be directed to thee, O Lord. While I enjoy the gift, I will bless the Giver; and in the moment when I feel the blessedness of salvation, I will feel yet more the blessedness that Jesus himself is my salvation. Oh! thou gracious Shepherd of thy people! here I behold thee, in all the tenderness of that office; and how truly delightful is it to my soul, that while I read of thee as revealing thyself under such graciousness of characters, I know thee in the full realization of everyone of them in my heart, as the great Shepherd of my soul. Never suffer me to lose sight of thy love, O Lord, nor of the power and wisdom which thou possessest, and by which all the necessities of my soul must be answered. No, Lord, suffer me not to suppose, even for a moment only, that my way is hidden from the Lord, or my judgment, passed over from my God. I know, Lord, that thou seest me, and knowest me, with every minute circumstance belonging to me; yea, Lord, it is thou who orderest, and appointest, and regulatest, and will finally bless all. Help me then to wait always upon thee, that, like the eagle, I may renew my strength. For, sure I am, my Lord never faints himself, nor is he weary of helping his poor ones. And, while I am waiting upon Jesus, and looking after him, Jesus, I know, hath been before hand with me, and is looking after me. Precious Lord! comfort me with thyself, and I shall be strong indeed, and never weary: I shall walk and not faint!


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/isaiah-40.html. 1828.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Isaiah 40:31

I. Consider, first, what it is to wait upon the Lord. Three things make it: service, expectation, patience. "Wait on the Lord." We must be as those Eastern maidens who, as they ply their needle or their distaff, look to the eye and wait upon the hand of their mistress, as their guide which is to teach them, or their model which they are to copy. Our best lessons are always found in a Father's eye. Therefore, if you would "wait upon the Lord," you must be always looking out for voices— those still small voices of the soul,—and you must expect them, and you must command them. But service, however devoted, or expectation, however intense, will not be waiting without patience. Here is where so many fail. The waiting times are so long: the interval between the prayer and the answer, between the repentance and the peace, between the work and the result, between sowing-time and reaping-time, and we are such impatient, impetuous creatures. We could not "tarry the Lord's leisure."

II. Consider, next, the action: elevation, rapid progress, a steady course—soar, run, walk. Is it not just what we want—to get higher, to go faster, and to be more calmly consistent? (1) Elevation. What are the wings? Beyond a doubt, faith, prayer; or, if you will, humility and confidence in a beautiful equipoise, balancing one another on either side, so that the soul sustains itself in mid-air and flies upward. (2) "They shall run." Have you ever noticed how the servants of God in the Bible—from Abraham and David to Philip in the Acts—whenever they were told to do anything, always ran. It is the only way to do anything well. A thousand irksome duties become easy and pleasant if we do them runningly, that is, with a ready mind, an affectionate zeal, and a happy alacrity. (3) But there is something beyond this. It is more difficult to walk than to run. To maintain a quiet sustained walk, day by day, in the common things of life, in the house and out of the house, not impulsive, not capricious, not changeable,—that is the hardest thing to do. Let me give four rules for this walk: (a) Start from Christ; (b) walk with Christ; (c) walk leaning on Christ; (d) walk to Christ.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 10th series, p. 279.


I. This is the gospel of the exile, the "gospel before the gospel," the good news of the swift accession of power and deliverance to the Jewish people, humiliated, dispirited, and tired out by monotonously waiting in their Babylonian captivity for a long-expected, long-delayed good.

II. Like all gospels, this gospel of the exile is God's. God, in His loving care for a constant education of souls, is the Alpha and Omega of this whole gospel for captive Israel.

III. Like all Divine evangels, this good news for the captives of Babylon is addressed immediately to a special need, and adapted by its form to effect a particular result, viz., that of patient endurance of acute affliction, steadfast resistance to cowardly fears and weakening apprehension, brave battling with anxiety and carewornness, a resolute and determined climb towards the sunny heights and clear expanses of cheerfulness and joy. "Wait for God" is the ever-recurring and all-luminous word of the exile-gospel.

IV. Like all gospels from the heavens, this one for the Hebrew exiles obtained its full and complete verification from the uncontradicted facts of human experience. The sevenfold blessing of the exile stands written in the chronicles of Israel and of the world. (1) First, and most distinctive of the gains of the Jews from their captivity, stands their advanced and perfected knowledge of God. (2) Next comes up out of the exile the more definitely shaped and clearly conceived image of the Anointed of the Lord, the Daysman or Mediator, the Lord our Righteousness, the Herald of a new covenant, the suffering and conquering servant of God, who is to realise the ideal Jerusalem, and bring a new heaven and a new earth. (3) Fired by this hope of a personal Redeemer, and controlled by a spiritual conception of Jehovah, the worship of God entered on that final spiritual phase which has never been wholly eclipsed, though it has suffered, and still suffers, many painful obscurations. (4) Bound up with this we see the generation of a higher ethic, the birth of a nobler conception of life, as the sphere for rightness of aim and righteousness of character. (5) The temporary limitations and restrictions of Israel being removed, it is forthwith lifted into the stream of universal history, never to be taken out again as long as sun and moon endure. (6) The missionary spirit, as well as the missionary idea, glows and throbs in the oracles and songs which represent the highest thought and the purest emotion of this time. (7) This was completed by the enlargement and recension of that unique and marvellous missionary agent, the Old Testament literature.

V. This gospel, like all its fellows, never dies. It endures for ever and ever as a living message, not effete though old, not wasted though abundantly used, but partaking of the unwearied energy and eternal reproductiveness of its Infinite Source.

J. Clifford, Daily Strength for Daily Living, p. 241.


I. Physical weariness is the least part of the weariness of our world. The extent and the depth of heart-weariness is greater than complaint ever utters. There is a hidden, dull, weary, aching weariness in souls everywhere, which never reveals itself.

II. Hope in God is a quenchless hope for our essential, enduring nature, if we can come home to it—a hope that is capable of being re-born and newborn after every disappointment and death. It is a childlike confidence that we are heirs of our Father's estate, and as a matter of birthright entitled to His friendship.

III. Those who wait upon God, and daily lay open their souls to His Spirit and working, know that a new nature is forming in them, and to that nature, in the proper sphere of God's kingdom, all our hopes will be fulfilled. They that wait on God do mount up, they do leave earth's weariness and despair far beneath them.

IV. A new will against all base earthborn inclinations, and a piercing intelligence beyond anything that the natural mind knows, are direct results of intercourse with God. They are virtues of the Divine Breath in man. "They shall mount up with wings as eagles." They are practising little daily ascensions before the day of the great ascension comes. They will come to life's full cup, for they taste it already. God means Human Blessedness; and as often as they mount up into the fine air of His presence, the blessedness meets them and creates new assurance in their breast.

J. Pulsford, Our Deathless Hope, p. 126.


References: Isaiah 40:31.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 270; F. Tucker, Penny Pulpit, No. 439; Short Sermons for Family Reading, p. 425; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv., No. 876, vol. xxix., No. 1756; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 219; J. H. Anderson, Ibid., vol. iii., p. 84; J. Vaughan, Children's Sermons, 6th series, p. 49.




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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/isaiah-40.html.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That wait upon the Lord; that rely upon him for strength to bear their burdens, and for deliverance from them in due time.

Shall renew their strength; shall grow stronger and stronger in faith, and patience, and fortitude, whereby they shall be more than conquerors over all their enemies and adversities.

They shall mount up with wings as eagles; which fly most strongly, and swiftly, and high, out of the reach of all danger.

They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint; they shall be enabled to run or walk in their way as they please, without any weariness.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/isaiah-40.html. 1685.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Eagles, who grow young, when they get new feathers, Psalm cii. 5. (St. Jerome) --- In this and the following 26 chapters the prophet chiefly comforts his people, as he had rebuked them for their crimes in the first part. (Worthington)

 


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/isaiah-40.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

renew = change. Hebrew. halaph, to change for the better. See note on Leviticus 27:10.

strength = strength (to endure). Same word as in Isaiah 40:9. Not the same as in verses: Isaiah 26:29.

mount up . . . run . . . walk. Note the Figure of speech Cata-basis, to call attention (by Application) to the progress of experience in grace. At first we fly (compare Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 12:11); then we run (compare Paul, Ephesians 3:8); then we walk (compare Paul, 1 Timothy 1:15).


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/isaiah-40.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

They shall mount up (2 Samuel 1:23) - literally, they shall make their wing to ascend [ ya`


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/isaiah-40.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(31) They that wait upon the Lord.—The waiting implies, of course, the expectant attitude of faith.

Shall mount up with wings.—Better, shall lift up their wings, or, shall put forth wings’ feathers, the last, like Psalms 103:5, implying the belief that the eagle renewed its plumage in extreme old age. For the faithful there is no failure, and faith knows no weariness.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/isaiah-40.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
they that
8:17; 25:9; 30:18; Psalms 25:3,5,21; 27:14; 37:34; 40:1; 84:7; 92:1,13; Psalms 123:2; Lamentations 3:25,26; Romans 8:25; 1 Thessalonians 1:10
renew
Heb. change.
Judges 16:28; Job 17:9; 33:24-26; Psalms 103:5; 138:3; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 2 Corinthians 4:8-10,16; 12:9,10
mount
Exodus 19:4; Psalms 84:7; Song of Solomon 8:5; Zechariah 10:12; Revelation 4:7
not faint
Psalms 27:13; Luke 18:1; 2 Corinthians 4:1,16; Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 12:1; Revelation 2:3

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/isaiah-40.html.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

WAITING ON GOD

Isa . They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.

I. Two conditions are necessary to physical life, viz., repose and activity. So, also, in the spiritual life, there are two conditions of health, viz., passivity and exercise. The former is expressed by waiting, which implies—

1. Passivity—a state in which we are the recipients, in which we do nothing, but quietly expect something to be done. As men "wait for the morning," they wait for the salvation of God; for the fulfilment of His promises; for the coming of the Lord.

2. Confidence in God, an assurance that He will reveal Himself, that He will accomplish His Word.

3. Desire and expectation. Men who wait for the morning both expect it and long for it; so those who wait for God—for His salvation, for His coming—expect it and long for it (Psa ).

4. Patience and submission—patience, because we know that the good waited for will not be granted before God's time; submission, because we know that it is in God's power to grant or to withhold, and that our only hope is in Him.

Waiting, therefore, is the opposite

(1) Of indifference;

(2) of despair;

(3) of rebellious discontent. (See vol. i. pp. 178, 179, 332.)

II. Those who wait on the Lord renew their strength.

1. Because God flows in upon the soul, imparts larger measures of life; as occurs in sleep. As touching the ground, according to the fable.

2. Because God approves and blesses those who thus confide in Him and long for Him.

III. Times in which we should wait.

1. In seasons of devotion, private and public.

2. In times of sickness and sorrow.

3. In times of spiritual dearth.

4. All the time of our continuance in this world is a time of waiting for the salvation of God.—C. Hodge, D.D.

We have here some of the benefits of waiting upon God as they appeared to the fervid soul of the prophet Isaiah. True messenger of the old covenant, he continues to speak under the new. Let us listen to this old message, which is also new. What does the prophet say? He says:—

I. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." This sounds as if this godly life of theirs involved a considerable tax upon their spiritual strength; as if they were in danger of becoming "weary and faint in their minds." Is this really so, Christian tradesman, householder, citizen, preacher, worker in the Lord's vineyard? What do you say, you who suffer and you who are tempted? To all such this promise of Scripture will be very welcome. The least it can mean is—

(1.) That they shall stand their ground. But it must mean something more than that they shall not retreat, though in such a warfare as ours not to have yielded is itself a victory. It must mean, they shall advance, they shall make sure and steady progress against the foe. But the margin speaks of this renewal as a change of strength, as if it would remind us—

(2.) Of the many-sidedness of the grace of God, and its perfect adaptability to our ever-changing needs. Whatever we need for the journey or the conflict, for prosperity or for adversity, prayer will obtain it for us (H. E. I. 2363-2374).

II. "They shall mount up with wings as eagles." This seems to say that the life of communion with God is not a long series of vapid and unemotional hours, a dead level of mechanical and spiritless employments, but a life that has rare and glorious experiences, holy aspirations, ennobling thoughts, ecstatic emotions, spirit-stirring hopes. "Wings as eagles." What does this mean? Climb where the eagle makes her nest and look. It means—

1. Purer air. Very pure is the atmosphere in which the eagle soars; she leaves all the fogs and mists of earth beneath her.

2. Clearer vision. The eagle sees things in their real relation to each other. What a mighty difference this often makes in our estimate of their nature! Premeditated insults below become mere forgetfulness above; irreparable injuries, mere scratches upon the skin; formidable duties, precious privileges.

3. Untroubled quiet. No one knows but he who has the secret of this Divine communion how deep a quiet God breathes about the heart that loves to speak with Him. In a peace that passeth understanding the praying spirit listens to the still small voice of God.

4. Rare landscapes greet his eye who mounts up with wings as eagles. We know what it is to look on Nature from the level. Can you fancy what it must be to look from eagle's wings? Can you fancy what it is to have beneath you the beauty of the earth from horizon to horizon? So is it with those that wait upon the Lord. Lifted up on faith's strong eagle pinions, over the great world of God's written revelation, what prospects they rejoice in! What order, beauty, harmony, and sublimity they descry! Or if these pinions raise him above the world of human life, it is still the same with him; he sees what none other sees—God overruling all things, causing all things to work together for good to them that love Him.

5. Unclouded sunshine. It is possible to get above the clouds (Joh ; 1Jn 4:18; Eph 3:19).

III. "They shall run and not be weary." Theirs shall be capacity for the most strenuous exertion.

IV. "They shall walk and not faint." Is not this the same as saying that we shall have the power of steady perseverance, of patient endurance under protracted trials? Did the prophet put this last because patience is one of those Christian graces that has its perfect work the latest—because the bearing of the Lord's burden is often a much more difficult thing than the doing of the Lord's work? And was it because he would encourage us by the assurance that that power, difficult as it is, shall yet be ours through prayer?

All this has but one lesson: BE MEN OF PRAYER.—John H. Anderson: Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii. pp. 84-87.

THE STRENGTH WE NEED

Isa . But they that wait upon the Lord, &c.

Divine promises are made to character. The character here described is one who waits on his patron for a benefit, on his master for direction. It is the believer's expectant, obedient look. It probably here describes the attitude of the believing Jews in Babylon in expectation of deliverance.

For all action strength is required. It is more easy to describe than define. There is the strength of a fortress, of an army, of a labourer. There is intellectual strength and moral strength. This last is required in the Christian life. There is an immense power of evil adverse to it, resistance to which requires moral strength. The text suggests the source whence it is derived, the constancy with which it is supplied, and the achievements by which it is distinguished.

I. THE SOURCE WHENCE IT IS DERIVED.

From the Lord on whom we wait. This is the point of connection between the text and what precedes. The prophet has contrasted the Divine power with the helplessness of heathen gods. He speaks of the power displayed in creation. When we contemplate its ample details, we conclude that power equal to their production is Omnipotence. The question is not affected by the fact that, while operating on matter, He is Himself immaterial. We do not understand the connection between mind and matter. But we know that mind operates on matter directly or indirectly. All science, all mechanical and engineering skill, is the indirect command of matter by mind. It can also command it directly. When the centurion came to Jesus pleading for the cure of his sick servant, it was not necessary for the Saviour to go to him (Mat ). Who can explain the contact of the will of Jesus with this sick man at a distance from Him? Yet it was real and effectual. Thus with a word, the expression of mind and will, God at the creation "spake and it was done." It is illimitable, inexhaustible power (Isa 40:28).

Nor is it only the power that controls matter. Equally immeasurable is He in the region of intellect. Hence the prophet advances to this as the completion of his statement. "There is no searching of His understanding." We cannot understand the manner of the Divine thought. It is beyond us, as the thought of the mathematician is beyond the babe. But we know that it comprehends everything that exists, or will exist, or can.

And moral strength is His. He is holy; He is essential holiness. His will is the extremest removal from moral evil and accordance with righteousness. When He made man, He made him in His image; when He formulated laws for man's government, though fallen, they expressed His essential righteousness; and this is His demand, "Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy."

And this is the source of human strength. Will any man say that his physical strength is self-created and independent? Or that his intellectual strength is independent of God? He who gave it sometimes takes it away. Our moral strength comes from Him. For what is it? Is it not the inclination of the will to the good, the righteous, the holy? Is this the natural disposition of man's will? Was it not lost in the Fall? Is not human nature proverbially weak in resistance of evil? How can it be made strong? "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength." He not only pardons the past by the power of the atoning sacrifice; He provides by His Spirit a change of heart for the sinner. This regenerating power is the beginning and centre of the soul's strength.

II. THE CONSTANCY WITH WHICH IT IS SUPPLIED.

The body becomes weary by exertion. The over-wrought brain becomes incapable of effort. Both must be recruited by rest and suitable aliment. And the soul's strength gives way under the pressure of evil unless it is constantly replenished from the Eternal source. The difference between such as are permanently strong and such as are weak is the difference between such as rely on their own sufficiency and such as wait on the Lord. Youth is the time when self-confidence is greatest. But if the young Christian becomes confident in the self-perpetuating power of that determination of his will that has been given by the grace of God, he will be in danger of spiritual exhaustion and consequent powerlessness. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall." Strength is maintained by constant inflowing from God. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." There may be an allusion to the supposed renewal of the eagle's strength. Very impressive is the contrast between Nature when exhausted and weary in winter, and the springtime, when reinvigorated from secret sources and her strength put forth anew. Pleasant to the toiler, weary in mind and body with his work, is the quiet evening with his family, the night's sleep, the Sabbath change and rest. Sweet is returning strength when the crisis of disease has passed, and the power which illness has exhausted is felt again. Thus spiritual forces are liable to waste. They need repair. Bring them to the source of strength. Use the means of grace. Seek the Spirit's help. "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind." How blessed the experience of Paul (2Co ).

III. THE ACHIEVEMENTS BY WHICH IT IS DISTINGUISHED.

"They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." Weakness seeks ease; strength seeks action. It is described—

1. As elevation. Like the eagle, whose flight is upward toward the sun. Nearer in thought and feeling to God.

2. As progression. In the path of Christian experience, character, service. It becomes easier from habit, as the daily task. And new strength is supplied.

The practical lesson of the whole is, that to fallen men God is this true source of moral strength. "My strength is made perfect in weakness."—J. Rawlinson.

RENEWING STRENGTH

Isa . They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength &c.

Human strength is of many kinds—physical, mental, spiritual; but every form of human strength must of necessity spend itself; for the world of which it forms a part decays, and by and by, like a worn-out vesture, the heavens and the earth shall be rolled up and put away. All strength apart from God is derived strength, and is consequently measurable, and must come to an end. The river runs on and the brook fails not, because they come from fountains that are not affected by drought; but cisterns are dried and reservoirs fail, because they have no springing well at the bottom of them; and if the pipes which supply them cease to flow, they are soon left dry as a threshing-floor. Let every man know, therefore, that whatever his strength may be, of body, mind, or spirit, if it be his own, it will fail him one day. Mingled with all things human there are portions of that all-dissolving acid which fell upon man's nature when Infinite Justice said, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

On the other hand, Divine strength never fails. It seems almost a superfluity to say as much as that: it abides in joyous fulness, never in the least diminished. The Lord was God when as yet this sun, and moon, and all these stars slept in His thought like unborn forests in an acorn cup; and He will be God when all this brief creation shall melt back to nothing, as a moment's foam dissolves into the wave that bore it and is lost for aye. God changes not; the fountain of His almightiness still overflows. You may bring your boundless wants and have them all supplied, but you shall no more diminish His all-sufficiency than when an infant dips his cup into the sea and leaves the sea brimming over upon ten thousand leagues of shore.

What then? These two things seem very far away—man with his faintness, his strength gradually drying up: God with His eternity and inexhaustible omnipotence. If we can bring these two together, if by an act of faith you that are human can be linked with the Divine, what a wondrous thing will happen! Then the sacred words of the text will be fulfilled.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." When the heart drinks life from the heart of God, and man is at one with his Maker, then all is well.

"From God, the overflowing spring,

Our souls shall drink a fresh supply;

While those who trust their native strength

Shall melt away and droop and die."

I. WE SEE HOW A TRUE CHURCH MAY BE DESCRIBED. "They that wait upon the Lord."

1. A Church such as a Church ought to be consists of men who depend upon the Lord alone; for waiting signifies dependence. Their hope is in God. They rest in God's righteousness as their righteousness, and they receive the great sacrifice provided by God to be their atonement and their acceptance. No man is really a Christian who finds his hope and confidence within himself; he must be looking out of himself to God in Christ Jesus. If Christians are what they ought to be, they depend upon God alone in their Church capacity.

(1.) God's Word is their only creed: they do not add to it anything whatever—no, not a sentence, a gloss, or a thought. A true Church of God will say, "We wait upon the Lord for teaching: this Word of the Lord is to us our infallible source of doctrine, and that alone." Those who wait upon the Lord for their creed shall never need to give up their faith for something better, but they shall renew their strength.

(2.) A true Church waits upon the Lord for grace, and has faith in the doctrines of grace as the testimony with which it is to work. It says to the pastor, "Teach you what God has taught. Preach Christ crucified. Preach not your own thoughts, nor notions of your own inventing, but what is revealed of God—preach you that, for it shall be the power of God unto salvation." If the bare unaltered truth of God will not break a man's heart, then it certainly will not break it when it is rounded and toned down and made to look pretty so as to suit the prevailing taste. A Church that waits upon the Lord uses only the doctrine of Scripture as its battle-axe and weapons of war.

(3.) A Church that is waiting upon the Lord always knows where its strength lies, namely, in its God. What is the power with which men are to be converted? Eloquence, say some. The Church of God says, "Not so. Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord." I solemnly believe that so much of human oratory as there is in a sermon, so much there is of the weakness of the flesh; for all the power must be of God working with the truth through the Holy Ghost. Therefore we should use great plainness of speech, and never speak for the sake of the language, but always for the sake of the truth we have to say, that God may bless it to the hearts of men. No man in this world was ever converted except by the Holy Spirit, and never will any man be truly converted by any other power. The Gospel has salvation in it when the Holy Spirit works by it, but no other doctrine can save. Many in these days think that we want a great deal besides the Spirit of God, but they are in error. They think that the world is not to be converted and men saved in the old-fashioned way of preaching the Word of God with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; but it is to be converted in that way and no other. You cannot touch a dead heart to make it alive either by excitement or by philosophy. Spiritual life can only come in God's way, and it is God's way by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. God's Word will not return unto Him void; but man's word is void when it goes forth, and void it remains to the end of the chapter. The magicians and their enchantments cannot compare with the rod of Moses. We mean, whatever others do, to keep to "waiting upon the Lord," going to work in the Lord's way, and depending upon the Lord's power, and upon that alone.

2. If we depend upon God, our expectation is from Him. We wait upon God as the birds in the nest wait upon the parent bird, expecting from her their food. Before she comes you hear their cries, and when she comes, if you look into the nest, you will see nothing but so many gaping mouths, all waiting, expecting to be filled by the mother-bird. That is just what a Church of God ought to be—a company of wide-opened mouths waiting to be filled by the Lord alone "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it," says the Lord. Do you not think that some Churches, and some Christians, have scarcely learned to open their mouths at all? Let us expect more of God, and we shall receive more. Is He not able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think? Expecting people, a flourishing Church. They are believers in the power of the Gospel, and they act accordingly. When I fire the gun, they are on the alert to pick up the birds, for they believe in the killing power of the Word. If a Church would but wait upon God in this sense of expecting great things from Him, it should have them; for He will never allow His people to complain that He has been a wilderness to them.

3. To make up waiting there is a third thing, and that is patience—to hold out and wait the Lord's time and will. This patience is to the uttermost desirable, that we may endure affliction, persevere in holiness, continue in hope, and abide in our integrity. Patience is the long life of virtue, and sets on its head the crown of experience. It is no child's play to continue to suffer affliction with joyfulness, and to remain for years perfectly acquiescent in the will of the Lord, let that will be what it may. That little word WAIT is a word fit for a father in Christ, and cometh not out of the mouth of a babe in grace. Some are ardent followers of Christ, but they do not seem to have learned the meaning of that word "patience." They are working for Christ, and they are depending upon the Lord, and they are looking for results; but when they do not see them immediately, they are offended and depressed. You were much the same when you were children: you wanted everything there and then, and waiting was dismal work to you. It is the mark of the child that he is in a violent hurry where men are steady. The Lord sometimes sends us speedy results to our labours; but at other times it is not so—the truth works slowly and surely, and effects all the more precious results. We must wait for seed to grow and for fruit to ripen. If we really wait upon the Lord, we shall just keep on, resolved to abide in duty, determined to remain in prayer, undaunted in confidence, unmoved in expectation. We shall not fly into a passion with the Lord and refuse to believe Him any more, neither shall we run off to novelties and fall into the fads and crazes of the day. The Lord will not fail the soul that waits upon Him; all will be well; the blessing will come. What a sweet thing is the calm leisure of faith! "He that believeth shall not make haste." Fret and worry, hurry and haste, are all slain by the hand of faith.

II. WE SEE WHAT THE LORD'S WAITING PEOPLE NEED. They need to renew their strength.

2. Because they are imperfect. Our natural corruption and the imperfection and infirmity of our flesh are about us still, and these bring us down at times till we say with David, "I am this day weak, though anointed king." Because we are human and imperfect, we cannot always be at our best: the sky is not always clear; the sea is not always at flood; the year is not always at summer; the summer is not always in the zenith; the moon is not always at her full; the tree is not always adorned with fruit; the vineyard does not always flow with wine; roses do not always blush, nor lilies always bloom. Creatures have their rises and their falls, and to us also there must be times when we need to renew our strength. It must be renewed, for otherwise it will decline still further, and this would be painful, dangerous, and dishonouring. The Lord would not have us utterly fail, nor fall prone upon the ground in the heavenly race; therefore to those who have no might He increaseth strength.

3. We must renew our strength, for it is for our honour, comfort, and safety.

4. It is for God's glory and for own own usefulness that we should be strong; and if we fall into decline and weakness, pray do not let us stop there. A pining sickness is an awful disease for a Church to die of. Do not linger in such a state. Up with you, and cry mightily unto the Lord, and you shall yet be restored.

Sometimes a man may renew his strength by taking a little rest. He has grown weak through stern labour and long fatigue, and he must be quiet and repose till he recovers. Oh, ye weary, heavy-laden, where is there rest for you except in the Christ of God?

We have known men's strength renewed by breathing their native air. They have risen out of a hot and fœtid atmosphere into the cool breeze of the mountain-side, and the bracing breeze has made them strong again. Oh, to have the breath of the Spirit blowing upon us once again!—Spurgeon.

If a Church wants reviving, if saints individually want reviving, they must wait upon God—

1. In prayer. Oh, what a blessing a day's prayer might be! If you cannot get as much as that, how much renewing may be gained in an hour's prayer!

2. Add to that a re-dedication of ourselves to the Lord who bought us. This often helps us to renew our strength.

3. Then afresh realise your entire dependence upon God. Put yourself into the Lord's hands absolutely. Be like the sere leaf that is carried by the breath of the tempest.

4. Then go forward to renewed action. In renewing your strength, ask the Lord that you may undertake fresh work, and that this work may be done to a nobler tune—that you may have more expectancy, more confidence, more faith, more God-reliance. What things are done by men in common life with self-reliance! But with God-reliance we work impossibilities, and miracles fly from us like sparks from the anvil of a smith. When a man learns to work with God's strength, and with that alone, he can do all things.—C. H. Spurgeon: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 1756.

Isa . They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, &c.

As it is the same God who works in nature and in grace, a most interesting analogy may be traced between His operations in both. When the earth is parched with the heat of summer, and its productions begin to languish from excessive drought, it is watered and refreshed by the showers of heaven, and its various plants and fruits not only resume their former health and vigour, but spring up and flourish with greater luxuriance and vigour. The flower, too, that had drooped and withered at the close of day, is revived by the cool and the dews of night, and in the morning puts forth its buds and expands its leaves anew, delighting the eye with the beauty of its colours, or perfuming the air with the sweets of its fragrance. For every degree of exhaustion in nature, the wisest and most adequate provision is made by its all—pervading and beneficent Author. In like manner, when the spiritual strength of the Christian is impaired, from whatever cause, if only he wait upon God, his decays of strength are recruited from above; new fountains are opened for his comfort; he rises up from the ground, on which he was sitting in feebleness and sorrow, and no longer with faltering, but with firm and steady steps, pursues the course of active duty or of patient suffering in which he is appointed to move. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." Observe—

I. TO WHOM THIS COMPREHENSIVE AND ANIMATING DECLARATION IS MADE. "They that wait upon the Lord," i.e., those who

(1) earnestly desire the enjoyment of His favour; and

(2) diligently attend to, and take peculiar delight in, all His service and will.

II. THE IMPORT OF THE DECLARATION. It implies—

1. That the principles of the spiritual life within them shall be gradually strengthened and increased. These principles are faith and love—faith in the Son of God, through whom, as the propitiation for sin and the beloved of the Father, they are justified and accepted and saved; and love to Him as having redeemed them unto God by His precious blood, and given them the first-fruits of His Spirit, that they may live to His praise and be heirs of His glory. These principles are strengthened by the very act of waiting upon God, for thus our knowledge of Him is increased. And the more we know of Him, the more our faith in Him and love towards Him will strengthen.

2. That increased communications of Divine grace shall be made to them.

III. THE EFFECTS OF ITS FULFILMENT.

Such elevated enjoyment is not indeed vouchsafed to every believer. Nay, there are many who perhaps never reach it on this side the grave. But their devotions do in every case become more exalted and habitual as they go on in their course in the strength of the Lord. Perhaps their mental constitution is incapable of such intenseness of meditation and of feeling; or it is not necessary for the particular duties and service assigned them; or their natural temperament is so melancholy and desponding, that were they to be indulged with such high manifestations, their depression might become deeper after these manifestations were over, and the fearful suspicion that they were altogether delusive might sink them in greater distress than before. But one thing is certain, that by all who truly wait upon the Lord progress will be and is made, both in the strength and the countenance of devotional habits, of spiritual affection, and of heavenly-mindedness; and that the grace which they ask in prayer and receive by faith gradually raises them to a far higher state of Christian attainment than that by which the beginning of their spiritual life was marked. Of the degree of this advancement they may not, indeed, be always conscious, for their humility will increase in exact proportion to their other real attainments.—Dickson.

2. They acquire greater alacrity and perseverance in doing His will. "They shall run," or march on, "and not be weary." Here the metaphor is varied, and changed into one that is more common in the sacred writings, as expressive of Christian duty, which is frequently compared to running or marching (Psa , &c.) To those whose spiritual strength is renewed by waiting on the Lord, duty is not a task, but a delight. They are never so happy as when labouring in the sphere of service allotted them; and under the burdens which sometimes press upon them they are supported and cheered by the promises and grace of Him whom they serve.

3. They are enabled to manifest fortitude and patience under affliction. "They shall walk and not faint." Here the metaphor is again beautifully varied, or rather another shade of the same image is presented for the encouragement of every traveller to the Heavenly Zion. Even when incapable, as it were, of increasing their strength or of being active in the service of God, grace is both promised and imparted for enabling them to move forward without fainting in the path of submission and suffering (Psa ; H. E. I. 198-202).—David Dickson, D.D.: Discourses, pp. 198-222.

SOUL GROWTH

Isa . But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, &c.

Men develop under a universal law of variableness. We do nothing continuously except breathe and pulsate. It is insanity to think upon one subject continuously. Health demands intermission, even retrocession. This truth may be seen in a larger way in our pursuits and actions. We pursue pleasure, engage in business, seek sociality intermittently (H. E. I. 2064-2066, 2073-2074).

Deep moral and religious thought and feeling are produced by a thousand concurrent influences. All endeavours to hold Christians, Churches, or individuals to a high emotive condition of religious feeling are vain. Virtue, morality, duties are perpetuated; but, in regard to these, we are changing. When reactions and backslidings take place, how shall men renew? How shall the words of the prophet be fulfilled? The method by which spiritual strength may be renewed and augmented must be learned from a study of the providence of God. We ought to take the Bible as men take charts. Human life is the interpreter of the Word of God (H. E. I. 549, 550, 560).

1. We must not be biassed by any theory of Church or ordinances, nor by any preaching, to suppose that we are shut up to the dealings of God with us through these channels. The Church occupies a foremost place here; but the schools, books, newspapers, business, social influences work upon the human soul.

2. It pleases God to make the spiritual development of men depend on time-growth. The body is the first to develop, then the social affections, with the elementary forms of the intellect, then the moral elements, and last the spiritual nature. Many persons develop high religious emotions prematurely. Many may lose by neglect or by delay; but there is an element of time which must be taken into consideration.

3. Spiritual strength is renewed through the removal of false or imperfect views of truth. There is a relation between a man's reason and things that are reasonable. The preaching of the Divine nature is, sometimes, not made drawing to men. It is not altogether human depravity that is at fault. Spiritual growth ought to be more to us than any orthodoxy or regularity of outward forms. Change of circumstances may give the needful impetus to soul-growth.

4. Many persons fail to come to the inspiration of the higher views of religion by reason of worldly prosperity, which tends to satisfy their lower nature (H. E. I. 3998-4014). In these circumstances, distresses, infirmities, and even great sorrows, are blessed of God to the opening of their nature and to the renewing of their spiritual strength. Troubles are well-diggers. We are rich and strong, not by the things which we possess, but by the amount of true manhood developed in us (H. E. I. 129, 130, 204-212).

5. It pleases God also to employ the companionship of friends and neighbours in developing their higher manhood. There is nothing so helpful to a soul as the contact of another soul. How much was there in Christ's personal touch! Go about as a man among men (H. E. I. 1049, 1050).

6. When, by the use of these various instrumentalities, our souls have grown and come into the possibility of a higher spiritual disclosure, then there is a further soul-growth in us. We come to a state in which there is a direct influence of the soul of God exerted upon us—as direct as sight and voice to the bodily senses. Men may come, at last, into that state in which the Spirit of God shines with a steadfast lustre upon them (H. E. I. 974, 2840, 2900). Then there is the triumph of grace in the soul. Then intuitions become truths. What wonder that the dying saint should catch the sound of heavenly music!

CONCLUSION.—It is the privilege of all Christians to live this life, not today nor to-morrow, but as the result of patient continuance in well-doing, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.—Henry Ward Beecher: Christian Age, vol. vii. pp. 102-106.

THE EAGLE-WINGED BELIEVER

Isa . They shall mount up with wings as eagles.

Scripture is full of parables, in which spiritual things are represented by natural. Here the believer's progress is compared to the eagle's flight.

I. THE WINGS WHEREWITH HE MOUNTS UP.

There are especially these two, the wing of faith and the wing of love.

1. The wing of faith. None can mount up to heaven without it, for it is a grace that looks not at the things seen in this world, but at the things that are not seen; and it mounts the soul to heaven and heavenly things (H. E. I. 1902-1907; P. D. 1164).

2. The wing of love. This grace, like faith, unites the soul to Christ. This is such a strong wing that fire cannot burn it; marytrs have found that the fire did not burn their love; no, it mounted up to heaven with the flame (H. E. I. 3337, 3338).

II. THE THINGS WHEREIN HE MOUNTS UP

1. Not in airy speculations. Some have a great deal of head-knowledge, but no heart love of the truth (2Th ). There may be much speculative knowledge where there is no saving grace (H. E. I. 3091).

2. Not in sinful curiosity, to pry into the secrets of God (Deu ). Many fall into this error in regard to the decrees of election and reprobation, the day of judgment (Mat 25:13), heaven (H. E. I. 1508-1518, 1793-1802, 2718).

3. Not in self-conceit and self-estimation, as some do who mount up in the pride of their hearts (Jas ).

4. Not in fits and starts of devotion. Many who hear the Word seem to be mounted up in joy; but it is but a flash, and like a land-flood (Luk ; Luk 8:13).

They mount up—

1. In holy meditation (Psa ; Rom 8:5). They do not allow their thoughts to wander on the mountains of vanity (H. E. I. 3499-3504).

2. In holy desires (Isa ).

3. In heavenly affections (Col ).

4. In lofty designs. Their ultimate design is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.

5. In righteous practices. This is seen in all their actions. The world's standard is not theirs (1Co ).

III. HOW THE BELIEVER MOUNTS UP.

Like the eagle—

1. Naturally. The eagle mounts not at man's command, but by the instinct God has given it (Job ). To the believer a new heart has been given, and it is natural to him to be mounting towards God. When the hypocrite mounts up, he is forced up contrary to his natural tendency, like a stone cast up into the air (H. E. I. 3008).

2. Highly. The eagle flies higher than other birds, and makes her nest on high; unlike the ostrich, that leaves her eggs in the sand.

3. Gradually. Though the eagle's flight is strong and swift, it is gradual. So the believer mounts up, by degrees (Psa ). He rises to more and more knowledge of God and more and more communion with Him, until faith and hope land in vision and fruition.

4. Frequently. The carnal professor mounts up only about the time of a communion, or when in some sore affliction, or during a revival, and whenever these seasons are over, he goes down as fast as he went up; but the believer mounts on week-days as well as on Sabbath-days, on ordinary Sabbaths as well as on communion Sabbaths.

IV. WHY THE BELIEVER MOUNTS UP.

1. Because it is as natural for him to do so as it is for an eagle. He hath a new nature, which ascends to heaven whence it descended (2Co ; H. E. I. 1103).

2. Because he hath his nest on high; like an eagle, his all is above. Christ is all in all to him, and therefore rise he must.

APPLICATION.—

1. A word of terror to you that never mounted up towards Christ. What shall we say to you? You are not like eagles, but like ravens, that do not mount heavenwards, but wander to and fro upon the earth, as Noah's raven did, and feed upon sordid things. You cannot fly to heaven, but flutter upon earth; and while you continue what you are, heaven you will never reach.

2. A word of comfort to the mounting soul. As the mounting soul is blessed, so is he safe as long as he is mounting; he is out of the reach of this world's misery; safe against death itself. The eagle is never in danger but when she is on earth; we are never in danger when we are in Christ till we fly down to the earth. Therefore, seeing God hath renewed your strength to mount up as on eagle's wings, O soar aloft; look down with a generous disdain upon the world and the vanities thereof, and keep your heart up in heaven. Mount, mount, mount; be always mounting, till you come to the throne of God and the Lamb.—Ralph Erskine, M.A.: Sermons, vol. ii. pp. 495-519.

He makes a very great mistake who supposes that the word "wait" implies an indolent passivity. The Hebrew word has brawn and bone in it; its signification is primarily to be strong—strong enough to hold out under pressure. Thence the word came to signify patience, as the opposite of discouragement and peevishness. When a soul is ready to do God's will, and to submit cheerfully to God's discipline, and to receive such fulness of supply as God is willing to bestow, that soul may be truly said to "wait on the Lord." It is a great grace, and it leads to a great glory.

The man who thus waits on God renews his strength. He does more; he receives a wonderful inspiration. He "shall mount up with wings as an eagle." Naturalists tell us that the special power of the eagle is in his wings. He can fly in the teeth of a gale, and go out on long voyagings towards the clouds, and play the aeronaut for hours without weariness. The sparrow twitters from the housetop; the dove is content to abide in the forest; but eagles are children of the skies and playmates of the storm. Even their nests are on the mountain crags.

So God means that every soul which waits on Him shall sometimes soar. Not creep or grovel in worldliness, or crouch in bondage to man or devils, but rise above all these baser things into the atmosphere of heaven. When a soul binds itself to God, it finds wings. Such an one has a citizenship in the skies. He catches inspiration from the indwelling Spirit. He rises above the chilling fogs of doubt, gains a wide outlook, is filled with ennobling thoughts, and actually feels that he is an heir to a celestial inheritance. He outflies the petty vexations that worry the worldling, and the grovelling lusts that drag the selfish and sensual soul down into the mire. His soul-life is hid with Christ in God. What cares the eagle, as he bathes his wing in the translucent gold of the sunbeam, for all the turmoil, the smoke, the clouds, or even the lightnings that play far beneath him? He flies in company with the unclouded sun. So a heaven-bound soul, filled with the joys of the Holy Spirit, flies in company with God.

You may realise these happy experiences if you will but wait on Him. You will be surprised to find what an uplift there is in your religion. You will discover how it can carry you above base and sensual desires; how it can give birth to pure and holy meditations; how it can kindle joy in seasons of dark adversities and bereavements; how it can keep your hope as serene and shining as the morning star. Strive after this, by living less on self and more on Jesus. Live more like a son of God or a daughter of God, with the full feeling of adoption. Set your affections on things above. Don't count these perishable things to be your treasures. Seek better ones in heaven. So shall prayer and Bible study, and the daily victory over sin, and the doing of God's will, renew your strength. You will mount up with wings as eagles, until you grow heavenly-minded—"which is life and peace." This is the "higher life" to which Christ calls every believer. And when you and I are inclined to nestle down in indolence and self-indulgence, God "stirs up our nests" and bids us fly towards Him.—Theodore L. Cuyler, D.D.

THE UNWEARIED RUNNER

(A Sermon to Young Men.)

Isa . But they that wait upon the Lord … shall run and not be weary.

Running is the young man's pace. With overflowing strength and buoyant spirits, the danger is not that young men should not run, but that they should run amiss, or that they should attempt to run in the right road in their own strength. The text describes a character as well as gives a promise.

I. THE RUNNING.

There are different paces among the Lord's servants. Ahimaaz is swifter than Cushi; John outruns Peter.

1. Running is the pace of energy. The puff-ball is the emblem of many a forceless life. Others work with both hands. If the Lord's work is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Be it ours to outstrip the energy of this world.

2. Running indicates fulness of alacrity (Gen ; Gen 24:46; 1Sa 3:4-5). Note how often Mark uses about Christ the words "straightway" and "immediately." Every man should be as David with Goliath, eager for the fray; as Elisha, who left the oxen and ran after Elijah; as Philip, who ran to meet the chariot of the Ethiopian.

3. To run is to be diligent. That is hardly running in which a man starts and stops, and starts and stops again. Much of Sunday-school teaching is a very slovenly make-believe. Patient continuance in well-doing is crowned.

4. Running indicates thorough-going hearty zeal. E.g., Aaron running for his censer, and running in between the living and the dead, that the plague might be stayed (Num ). Christ is dishonoured by our heartlessness, the Gospel is derided through our indifference, and souls are lost by our sloth. From all this it is clear that the runner is one whose spiritual life is intense. Young men should be runners.

II. COMMEND THE RUNNING.

1. Because it is a warming pace. Running is better than standing before a fire for warming one; active exertions are better for the Christian life than listening to sermons. Let spiritual dyspeptics turn their hands to work.

2. A ground-clearing pace. Creepers meet with more obstacles than runners.

3. A cheering pace. Runners have no time to become dispirited. David ran to fight Goliath. One can understand the Balaclava charge.

4. The winning pace (1Co ). All our God-given strength must be put out to win.

5. A fitting pace for a believer. Jesus Christ declares that we should run for Him. Christians who fall in love with "life in earnest" become far happier men. This is to live in the light of God's countenance, like Milton's angel in the midst of the sun.

III. THE RUNNER'S GIRDLE.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall run and not be weary." Waiting upon the Lord is essential to the running. They shall not be weary. Much running is short-lived. Many converts are converted back again. Not every bloom becomes a fruit. To wait upon the Lord is—

1. To yield yourselves, by God's grace, to be His servant. Every hair of our head belongs to our Saviour. Consecration is needed to keep up the running so as to win the crown.

2. To go to Him for all your strength. Man's natural strength is perfect weakness as to spiritual things; strong points left undefended lead to ruin. Dare to do great work for God, and you will be enabled to dare ever greater things.

3. To cultivate the expectancy of hope. Wait at the foot of Jacob's ladder for the angels to bring down answers to prayer. (See Outlines, WAITING FOR THE LORD, vol. i. pp. 178, 179, 332, 333.)

IV. THE RUNNER'S STAFF.

"He shall not be weary." Some are not weary of God's work, though they often grow weary in it. To stand, and having done all, to stand, is impossible to flesh and blood; it is only possible to the God-sustained. How run, then? Running Christians have daily strength for daily needs; they find fresh matter of interest (if you want a novel, read your Bible); they look to the end, to the recompense of the reward (1Co ).

CONCLUSION.—Let runners beware of slackening their pace.—C. H. Spurgeon: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (1869), pp. 337-348.

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY RUNNING. To run, in a spiritual acceptation, is to engage with great liveliness and zeal in the duties which God has appointed, and to persist in them with all our powers. Running includes—

1. Forwardness, in opposition to culpable delays. When a good work is proposed to some, they catch at any excuse for neglecting it; or, if they do set about it, it is with so much reluctance and indolence, that what little is done is of little worth. But the lively Christian, let God call him when He will, is eager to discharge whatever appears to be his duty (Psa ). The angels are represented as standing round about the throne of God, hearkening to the voice of His word; as it were, watching every motion of His lips: and the instant they perceive the least intimation of His pleasure, they fly to execute it. Those who are truly God's people do His will on earth as it is done in heaven: they do it promptly. Examples (1Ki 19:20; Mat 4:22; Mat 2:9; H. E. I. 3633-3638).

2. Perseverance and diligence. It is not every progressive motion that can be called running. The motion used in it is quick and animated, and that not for a step or two, but for a considerable way, even to the end of the course. It implies, therefore, not merely a forwardness in the setting about a good design, but diligence in prosecuting it, and perseverance to finish it. Our endeavours to please God and win the glorious prize must be strenuous, ardent, continuous. When a person is running for a considerable wager, he doth not loiter, nor enter into trifling conversation with every one he meets. No; he looks at nothing but the prize set before him; he will not suffer himself to be hindered by any one; he pushes on with unremitted ardour to the end of the race (1Co ; Php 3:13).

II. HOW FAR THEY WHO RUN MAY EXPECT TO BE SUPPORTED.

1. They shall never be so weary as to lose their inward delight in religion. Though the flesh sometimes flags and tires, and the present lively feeling of joy and comfort diminishes, the willingness of the spirit still continues; the principle of delighting in God doth not expire; their love to Christ and their eagerness to serve Him are as strong as ever. They are quite vexed and impatient when they find that nature cannot keep up with grace.

2. They shall not be so weary as to throw off the practice of religion. They may forget themselves, as Peter did in the high priest's hall, and speak and act very inconsistently with their professed devotion to Christ; but yet, if they be really born again, grace will recover them from this temporary fainting; a look from Christ will set all right again.

III. WHAT REASON THEY HAVE TO EXPECT SUPPORT.

1. They have the power and promise of God to depend upon (chap. Isa , Isa 40:27-29; Psa 63:8).

2. There is a boundless excellency in religion, calculated to afford continual refreshment. Whatever else men apply their minds and hearts to, they are soon tired of; they find an emptiness in it which makes them throw it aside with disgust (Ecc ; 1Jn 2:16; H. E. I. 4969-4974). But ask one who lives in communion with God, and runs the way of God's commands with an enlarged heart, whether he is weary of it and would rather be excused from it, and you know what his vehement and indignant answer will be (Joh 4:34; Psa 84:10). The toils and labours of religion have one advantage above all other pursuits—there is no climbing to the top; there is no sounding the bottom; there is no finding out the breadth or length of its excellency and sweetness.

APPLICATION.—Let those who are running the race set before them be encouraged. You are in the way of mercy, and may expect not only to be kept from falling, but to have a continual increase of grace. Let the way be never so long, the ascent never so difficult, the opposition never so great, and your strength never so small; what are all these to the power and promise of God? Only—

1. Take care that you begin well. Be sure that your first step in religion is right. Remember that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life," and that "no man cometh unto the Father but by Him."

3. Keep heaven and your Forerunner in your eye. The soul that looks unto Jesus can never lose its way (P. D. 2312-2314).—Samuel Lavington: Sermons, vol. ii 379-396.

"There, to fulfil His sweet commands,

Our speedy feet shall move;

No Sin shall clog our wingd zeal,

Or cool our burning love."

O Christians! with such prospects before us, is it not strange that we run no faster now? that when heaven, in respect to some of us, can be at no great distance, it should be possible for the comparatively trifling concerns of the world to engage our attention? that we do not spurn it from us with indignation, like the Pilgrim, who ran through Vanity Fair shutting his eyes and stopping his ears?—Lavington.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-40.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Isaiah 40:31

"But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." Isaiah 40:31

How different the religion of a living soul is from the religion of a dead professor! The religion of a dead professor begins in self, and ends in self; begins in his own Wisdom of Solomon , and ends in his own folly; begins in his own strength, and ends in his own weakness; begins in his own righteousness, and ends in his own damnation! There is in him never any going out of soul after God, no secret dealings with the Lord, no actings of faith upon the divine perfections.

But the child of God, though he is often faint, weary, and exhausted with many difficulties, burdens and sorrows; yet when the Lord does show himself, and renews his strength, he soars aloft, and never ceases to mount up on the wings of faith and love until he penetrates into the very sanctuary of the most High. A living soul never can be satisfied except in living union and communion with the Lord of life and glory. Everything short of that leaves it empty. All the things of time and sense leave a child of God unsatisfied. Nothing but vital union and communion with the Lord of life, to feel his presence, taste his love, enjoy his favor, see his glory—nothing but this will ever satisfy the desires of ransomed and regenerated souls. This the Lord indulges his people with.

"They shall renew their strength." They shall not be always lying groaning on the ground, not always swooning away through the wounds made by sin, not always chained down by the fetters of the world, not always hunted in their souls like a partridge upon the mountains. There shall be a renewal of their strength; and in their renewal, "they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

"They shall mount up with wings as eagles." Isaiah 40:31

It is said of the eagle, that he mounts up towards the sun; and that of all birds, he is the only one which can gaze upon the sun with unshrinking eye. So with faith in the soul. The Lord"s people alone can look by faith upon the "Sun of righteousness," gaze upon a glorious Immanuel at the right hand of the Father, and see a precious Jesus ever interceding for them, and drawing them near to his bosom. And when this blessed Jesus communicates a measure of his love and blood to their consciences, and raises up and draws forth faith in his name, then the soul begins to mount up with these wings like eagles, soaring higher and higher, until it comes into the presence of God; mounting up in higher and higher circles of spiritual flight, until it penetrates into the very sanctuary of Jehovah.

Now, has not your soul thus soared sometimes as upon eagle"s wings? Have there not been those communications of divine life and light, those mountains of faith, those anchorings of hope, those goings forth of love, whereby your soul was enabled to mount up and find delight in Jesus, and felt his name, love, and blood precious? Have you not mounted up too, not only in the exercise of living faith and hope, but also of heavenly affection?

Sometimes we are so fastened down to this earth, this valley of tears, this waste-howling wilderness; so chained down to it, that we are like a bird with a broken wing, and cannot mount. We are swallowed up in the world, forgetting God and godliness. But are there not times and seasons when the soul is delivered from these chains and fetters, when earthly cares drop off from the mind, when our wings are strong, and fresh pinions as it were given, when the world and its temptations, sin and its snares are left behind, and there is a sweet mounting up in the feelings of heavenly affection? This is to "mount up with wings as eagles," and the soaring soul never ceases to mount until it comes into the very presence of the Three-One God of Israel.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Isaiah 40:31". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/isaiah-40.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 23rd, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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