Woe is me that I dwell in Meshech… Psalm 120:5a

Have you ever been in a hurry to get somewhere and encountered snarling, snail-paced traffic? It is the worst. It causes your blood to boil and emotions to be thrown off. You feel like Michael Douglas in the movie Falling Down. I am not recommending that you watch the film at all (in fact don’t bother). In the story there is a man named William Foster who is stuck in a traffic jam, who abandons his car and walks across Los Angeles to get to his daughter’s birthday party. After encountering one obstacle after another, he finally snaps and lashes out violently. Not cool. If anything it is a picture of what the congestion of a traffic jam feels like.

Dealing With Delay

Traffic is a type of congestion that causes you to move slower than your intended speed. You can’t control it. You are subject to it. Traffic causes a delay in where you are going and how long it takes you to get there. You timed it. The app said it would take 12 minutes to get there, but you didn’t have the “show traffic” option set and this trip has turned into a one hour jaunt. And now you are in a hurry. Trying to reroute. Looking for side roads. Or maybe you planned your life out. You had a good picture of what it would look like. I will be here and do this and that and be married to so and so, with three kids, a six figure job with a corner office with a view, own a large home in the suburbs, have a dog and a cat all in no more than four years time, but for reasons beyond your control it has turned into ten years and you feel like you are not even half way there. But you have been busy. Busy lives, busy times, busy minds, busy lines. Busy doing who knows what for so, so long. You feel like you are running fast on a treadmill, but going no where and gaining no ground. Let me encourage you, your time on that contraption was not in vain. God will use that.

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In Psalm 120, the first song of ascent, David makes an interesting statement that is easy to miss. He says, “Woe is me that I dwell in Meshech.” Ok. Sounds like David doesn’t like going there. Must not be his favorite place to visit. Meshech. Never heard of it. It is easy to pass by this verse and move on to the next one. But there is something very profound about the name of this location. Meshech in the Hebrew language means to delay, to postpone, to be stiffled, to prolong or to defer. Basically, David is saying, “It is not cool whenever I experience the delay of a traffic jam.” Or even more plain, “I hate to be held up. I don’t like to go there. Meshech is not on my list of places to visit.”

Dealing With Delay

But if you listen to the tone of the song you realize that David knows what he is talking about. He is singing these lyrics as if he has been to Meshech many times before. He knows the woes, the traps and the snares of this city. David understands that there are some places, people, and projects that swallow up our time, clog up our lives, suck up our money, steal away from our relationships, suppress our creativity and absorb all of our energy. David says, “I learned long ago that there are some roads that I have got on that God never told me to get on and some places I have gone that God never told me to go to.” In other words, “I have learned the hard way called delay and the only way I am going to go from now on is God’s way.” David speaks of delay from experience.

Dealing With Delay

It is true that there are some unavoidable delays in life. Oftentimes God sets us in times and seasons where we need to sit and rest and learn for awhile. But then there are some roads we chose to go on all by ourselves. It is not God. It is not the devil. It is all us. There are some places we chose to dwell in. The key word of this verse is dwell. It means to stay, to live, to put your tent pegs down and to be there for awhile. Meshech is a place you might have to go through once in a while because your travel plans take you through it, but you don’t have to actually stay there. Not one minute. Not one day. In Psalm 23 David said it like this, “Even though I go THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” You were not meant to stay in the valley, but to go through it. It is not permanent. It is temporary. So is Meshech. I can’t get comfortable in delay. I will not stay in delay. It might be for a season, but it is not for a lifetime. “Woe is me that I dwell in Meshech.”

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If somehow you have obtained an address in Meshech (delay or postponement) and have an apartment there, there is hope. You don’t have to stay here any longer. There is a song for you. Its the first song of ascent. The songs of ascent are Psalm 120-134. They were the songs of the people of Israel who made a pilgrimage from their hometown’s and village’s to the Temple in Jerusalem each year. When they finally arrived at the steps of the Temple they would climb 15 stairs. On each stair they stop and would sing the song that was associated with that step and then go to the next and stop and sing the next song and so on. 15 stairs. 15 stops. 15 songs. The first song or the first step dealt with this issue called delay. If I am going to go any higher in this journey to the Temple (God’s House) than where I am then I must deal with dwelling in delay. Delay happens, but delay doesn’t have to stay.

Dealing With Delay

I love that on the onset of these chapters in in the book of Psalms (120-134) on the very first step the very first song deals with this thing we all go through called delay. Delay is something we all encounter in life in one way or another. The revelation is this: delay is a classroom of epic proportions. You might as well take this class for credit, because you can get your doctorate degree in Delay-ology pretty easy while walking with God. Noah knew delay. It took him 120 years to build the ark that God told him to build. Abraham and Sarah knew delay. When he was 100 and she has 90 they gave birth to Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah knew delay. They waited 20 years before having children. Jacob knew delay. He waited and worked for 14 years to get Rachel, the wife he loved. Joseph knew delay. When he had a dream Joseph went through many years in the pit of betrayal, the house of accusation, and the prison of being forgotten before he saw the dream fulfilled. Moses knew delay. He waited in the wilderness for 40 years watching sheep before he went back to Egypt to deliver God’s people. Joshua knew delay. He waited 40 years wandering in the wilderness before he had the opportunity to enter into the Promised Land. Jesus knew delay. He waited 30 years of His 33 1/2 year life before he began His earthly ministry. They all could have stayed in delay, but instead they waited and waited until God turned it around. They all had a word from God and remembered when God speaks His word it will not return void, but will accomplish what He sent it out to do. And as for you, I have news for you, it is your turn. You got next! It is time to become at doctor of Delay-ology. This delay is not to hurt you, but to promote you into a place in God’s purpose that you would not be able to get to but through delay.

Dealing With Delay

Understand a few key things about delay. It is difficult while you are in it, but in delay you learn about your God and about yourself. Delay is where we learn to trust God, even when our life and our circumstances just don’t make sense. Delay is where we learn to submit to God because He is the only one in this picture who is in the past, the present and the future all at the same time and He knows what is best for our lives. Delay is where we learn to rest in God, even when we are surrounded by noise and chaos. Imagine, being in a traffic jam and being at complete rest. You are not trippin! You are not anxious. God knew you would encounter it before you ever got there. (Siri did to, but that is beside the point.) But instead of panicking or getting upset, like you have in the past, you need to do what Bobby McFerrin says, “Don’t worry be happy!” I have really, really good news for you, delay won’t last forever. It is temporary. You will get out of this. This might be a bump in the road. It might seem overwhelming, but don’t be overwhelmed. There is a bright future ahead of you. Even if it seems like you are going in a different direction than you previously planned, you will get there because God, your God, is in charge of this journey and not you. Thank you Jesus!

In grace, Patrick Kiteley

Twitter – @patrickkiteley  Instagram – @patrickkiteley  LinkedIn – Patrick Kiteley


Follow-Through-Enter-Into:

Personally: Name one area in your life where you have experienced delay? (Confide)

Practically: Make a decision to make a change in this area of your life. (Decide)

Prayerfully: Father God, I ask you today to give me David’s resolve concerning this place called Meshech. I need you, Holy Spirit, to give me the strength to move away from delay. I take the first step up into a new life in You. Please help me God, because I want to learn how to trust, submit and to rest in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen! (Applied)


Scripture Reading: Psalm 120

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