Between his initial anointing by Samuel (see 1 Samuel 16), and his coronation as king over all Israel (see 2 Samuel 2, 5), David had to wait about 21 years. When first anointed, he was only a young shepherd, probably a teenager. After King Saul died in battle, David was anointed as king, but only over Judah. About seven years later, he was finally crowned as king over all Israel.
David displayed great patience during these years of waiting. He knew that God had a plan and always keeps His promises, so waiting on the Lord was the best choice. Patience is rooted in waiting on the Lord, including the faith, hope, and expectancy we’ve seen throughout our study. It waits on God to work, knowing that He loves to act on behalf of those who wait. It doesn’t try to rush things along or “help” God out. It knows that God’s plan done in God’s way at God’s time is the only path to God’s glory.
Our own patience, as we’ve also seen, is further focused on Christ’s return (vv.7–8). Parenthetically, James mentioned one specific action we can take that demonstrates we’re waiting in the right spirit: not grumbling against one another (v.9). Showing patience with fellow believers honors Christ. It’s one of the things He wants to find us doing when He returns.
James encouraged his readers to wait patiently despite their difficult circumstances. They were victims of social injustice and oppression by the rich (vv.1–6). Even so, they could imitate the examples of the prophets and Job, who steadfastly endured because they trusted wholly in the Lord. Their stories of waiting, like all stories of waiting, are not primarily about those who waited but rather about our God, who is “full of compassion and mercy” (v.11).
James compared waiting for Christ’s return to a farmer waiting for the harvest (v. 7). There’s nothing he can do to make crops grow or rain fall. He cannot control such things. Yet the land will yield results, if he waits. Although winter is upon us, a windowsill plant placed in a sunny room in your house could serve as a reminder of this truth.