The salvation of the Gospel was the constant object of faith and desire to the Lord's people under the old dispensation. Long had the church triumphed in the glowing anticipation, as if in the full possession of the promised blessing, "It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness; as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." And as it was the joy of their living moments, so was it the support and consolation of their dying hours. "I have waited for Your salvation, O Lord!" was the expression of the dying patriarch's faith. And how cheering were the last words of this "sweet Psalmist of Israel," whose soul was now fainting for God's salvation, even in his dark and foreboding family prospect! "Although my house be not so with God, yet has He made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow." Good old Simeon, in the break of the gospel-day, was ready to "depart in peace, for his eyes had seen God's salvation." And shall not we, under this heavenly influence, naturally appropriate these feelings of ancient believers to ourselves? What interpreter but experience will be needed to explain them? The uneasiness felt by any interruption of our enjoyment, will show the soul to be fainting for this salvation. Nothing will satisfy but the Savior. The tempting offer of "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them," will fail in attraction. Still the cry will be, "Say unto my soul, I am Your salvation. Let Your mercies come also unto me, O Lord; even Your salvation, according to Your word."
As the lowest expectant of this salvation, am not I richer than the sole possessor of this world's portion? And therefore if the Lord hides His face, I would look to no other quarter; I would stay by Him, and "wait on Him," though days and months and years may pass away, "until He have mercy upon me." My soul faints for His salvation: and—pressing to my lips the fullest cup of earth's best joy—my heart would burst with despair of satisfaction, "but" that "I hope in His word." "By this hope I am saved." In "the patience of hope" I am resolved to wait until the last moment, lying at the footstool of my Savior. I am looking for the "assurance of this hope"—when, in the joyous anticipation of eternity, and with "the earnest of" the heavenly "inheritance" in my soul, I shall echo the voice of my coming Savior, "Even so come, Lord Jesus."
Oh, how precious and important a part of our armor is Hope! As a "helmet," it has "covered our head in the day of battle" from many a "fiery dart of the wicked." In times of darkness—when the restless foe hides the prospect from the eye of faith, and the child of God can scarcely, if at all, mount up and sing—even then hope remains, and lights a candle in moments dark as the chamber of the grave, "Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime; and in the night-season His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life." And when the afflicted, tempest-tossed soul is trembling at the prospect of impending danger—at this moment of infinite peril, Hope holds out the "anchor sure and steadfast;" so that in the awful crisis, when "deep calls unto deep, and all the waves and billows are going over us," most unexpectedly "an entrance is ministered unto us abundantly," in the Lord's best time, into our desired haven. And it is this hope alone that sustains us. Were we to conceive of God according to the notions of our own hearts, we should give way to most unbelieving patience. But the Divine character—as it shines forth in the word with such love and wisdom, such tenderness and grace—invigorates our hope. The strength of the strongest of God's people proves but small, when afflictions press heavily, and expected help is delayed. But though the soul faints, it cannot fail. We depend not on what we see or feel, but on what the word promises. If God has engaged, it must be fulfilled, be the difficulties—no, impossibilities—what they may. Fixed, therefore, upon this sure foundation, with our father Abraham, "against hope" from what we see, "we believe in hope" from what God has promised. Thus the word is faith's sure venture for eternity—stamped with such a marvelous, mysterious impression of Divine glory and faithfulness, and communicating such Divine power and refreshment, that the believer cannot but produce his experience of its efficacy for the support of his tempted brethren, "I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."
"My soul faints for your salvation." He wished for no deliverance but that which came from God: his one desire was for "your salvation." But for that divine deliverance he was eager to the last degree—up to the full measure of his strength, yes, and beyond it, until he fainted. So strong was his desire that it produced prostration of spirit. He grew weary with waiting, faint with watching, sick with urgent need. Thus the sincerity and eagerness of his desires were proved. Nothing else could satisfy him but deliverance wrought out by the hand of God; his inmost nature yearned and pined for salvation from the God of all grace, and he must have it or utterly fail. "But I hope in your word." Therefore he felt that salvation would come; for God cannot break his promise, nor disappoint the hope which his own word has excited: yes, the fulfillment of his word is near at hand when our hope is firm and our desire fervent Hope alone can keep the soul from fainting by using the smelling-bottle of the promise. Yet hope does not quench desire for a speedy answer to prayer; it increases our importunity, for it both stimulates ardor and sustains the heart under delays. To faint for salvation, and to be kept from utterly failing of the hope of it, is the frequent experience of the Christian man. We are "faint yet pursuing." Hope sustains when desire exhausts. While the grace of desire throws us down, the grace of hope lifts us up again.