Psalm 27:13 and Luke 18:1-8 and Waldenström's Commentary

by Paul Peter Waldenström and translated by Tommy Carlson

[Waldenström made his own translation of the Bible from Greek into Swedish. In these columns, both the text and his comments are translated from Swedish.]

Psalm 27:13 — Yet I believe that I shall see the Lord' s goodness in the land of the living.

David's words really are thus: "If I did not believe that I shall see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living —" Here he breaks off the sentence. He does not want to express how it should go with him, And, he does not need to express it. Because now he believed. The enemies would not have power over him. He would not die but remain in the land of the living to see how good the Lord is.

In yet a higher meaning, WE could talk about the land of the living as that land where the perfected spirits live forever with God and behold his eternal glory. If we did not believe that we will be there to participate, we would soon disappear in our misery. As Paul says, "If all we had in this life were hope in Christ, we would be the most pitiful among all the people (I Cor, 15)." But now, God be praised and honored, we have this hope that is a hope that will not be put to shame {Rom. 5). No one shall be able to take this hope away from us. Because when the enemies do their worst, they do not get any further than to kill the body, But when that happens, we commend, with Jesus, our spirits into our heavenly Father's hands. And there the enemies stand with shame, while we enjoy the eternal glory in the living, the blessed land, beholding the heavenly goodness. May we never let go of this hope! It shall help us to run candidly in the race which is still remaining and also to hold out unflinchingly until we have won the perfect victory. That is the reason David says to his soul: "Await for the Lord, trust him..."(verse 14).

[Discussion: In the second paragraph of his exposition, Waldenström contrasts the position of the contemporary Christian with that of David. David was not informed of the resurrection of Jesus and the proclamation of the heavenly kingdom beyond death through resurrection.

True though that may be, the contrast distracts us from David's doubt and David's faith. It also distracts us from our own questions, doubts, and genuine yearnings. Indeed, more enlightening than the contrast Waldenström strikes is the comparison between David's longing and Jesus' longing. Perhaps not everyone yearns in their heart to see God's goodness in the land of the living, but David and Jesus surely did. And we do, too, when we hear the Word preached by Pastor Bailey as she probes her own experience with the longing of David and recognizes the particulars, like people all over the world taking communion at relatively the same time. It reminds one of God's word to Elijah, when he was in despair, that there were yet 7000 who had not bowed knee to Baal {I Kings 19:18). PJ]

Luke 18:1-8

Verse 1 — Then he told them a parable1 with reference to their need always2 to pray and never to be disheartened3(See Luke 11:5f; Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2; I Thessalonians 5:17)

  1. The parable about the widow and the judge occurs only in Luke.
  2. That is to say, persevering (v.7), so that they shall not quit even though for a time it may not appear helpful. See I Thessalonians 5:17.
  3. When one has prayed for a time and the Lord seems not to hear, it is easy to become discouraged and to become tired of praying, But the Lord wants to teach the disciples to persevere.

Verses 2 and 3 — saying: In a certain city was a judge who did not fear God and had no consideration for people. But there was a widow in the same city and she came1 to him and said, "Obtain for me justice from2 my adversary."

  1. The Greek word form in the original text expresses that she came again and again.
  2. That is to say, so that I can come loose from my adversity.

Verses 4 and 5 — And he did not want to do it for a time. But after awhile, he said to himself, "If I neither fear God nor have consideration for people, I shall, because this widow is pestering me, obtain justice for her so she wilt not in the end come and hit me until I am blue."1

  1. The word in the original text is used in regard to fist fighting. The judge expresses in a scornful tone about the possibility that the woman will in her anger come and hit him in the face.

Verses 6 and 7 — But the Lord said: "Listen to what the unjust judge is saying. But God — shall he not seek justice for his chosen who call to him day and night? And is he slow with regard to them?1

  1. The words in the original text arc very difficult to understand. Probably the Lord wants to say: "AND DO YOU THINK GOD IS SLOW IN OBTAINING JUSTICE FOR THEM?" The judge was slow in obtaining justice for the widow and only later did he allow himself the capability to do so. But God is not tardy. He shall obtain justice for them (v.8). The Greek word, which we translated slow or tardy, means really TO BE LONG SUFFERING or FORBEARING, APPROACH THE WORK SLOWLY, whether it is to judge or to help. In our language, the expression, TO BELONG SUFFERING, is used only when there is a question of judging.

Verse 8 — I tell you that he shall obtain justice1 for them in all haste.2 Yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith3 on the earth?"4 (See I Timothy 4:1; II Timothy 3:1f.

  1. That is to say, he shall soon save them from their enemies who suppress them and, also, take them up into his Kingdom's glory for which they are chosen. Note also the assurance about answered prayers this parable gives. If you cannot consider God as good as a father (Luke 11:2), nor as good as a tardy friend (Luke 11:8), you can, at least, consider God as good as an unjust judge who neither fears God nor has compassion for people.
  2. With that, the Lord suggests that his return shall not be delayed very long. That he speaks about his return is evident by the words following: "Yet when the Son of Man comes..."(v. 9). In other places (for example Luke 19:11) he suggests, however, that his return will not be too soon. How this is reconciled with the other is shown by Peter in II Peter 3:8f, When Christ comes again, it is God who will obtain justice for his chosen, Because, even then, Christ comes to accomplish God's work. But, until then, they must suffer and persevere.
  3. With faith means here to have faith in him as the Messiah.
  4. The Lord comes from heaven to earth. He comes to obtain justice for his own, but will he find any faithful on the earth? This melancholy question indicates that he will not find many (See Luke 17:26-30). Yes, many of them who at one time believed, shall, when he comes, have tired and given up their faith (compare Matthew 24:5, 1012, 24). Yet he SHALL find faithful believers (Matthew 25:34f.). But the thought of the many who do not believe causes him sadly to question if he will find any believers at all.

[Discussion: This parable, by no design on our part, relates closely with David's yearning to see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Nearly everything Jesus says indicates that seeing God's goodness is often slow in coming. But, even through the unjust judge, it comes. God's goodness is relentless. And Jesus suggests, its slowness is not necessarily due to God's slowness but to human obstinacy and lack of faith.

I wonder if Waldenström is correct to take the phrase "When the Son of Man comes" to mean when he comes again. Rather, since Jesus was the Son of Man and since he had already come, it makes more sense to take it as a speculative or reflective question, a question like the one that lies behind David's statement of faith. The difficulty, then, is not God's lack of speed but whether there are any faithful ones praying genuinely, perseveringly, to be vindicated and who yearn to see the goodness of God in the land of the living. PJ]