Moody professor John Koessler wrote about the silence of God in a recent blog post. We tend to interpret the silence as “proof of His absence,” “a sign of disinterest” or “disengagement.” “We worry that it means that God can’t hear us or even worse that He won’t hear us.” But we’re mistaken. “Silence often acts as God’s exclamation point, forcing us to focus on the situation at hand. Instead of speaking to us in words, God communicates through our circumstances.”
These are the dynamics underlying today’s reading. Now that we’ve considered some of the meanings of human silence in Scripture, the next section of this month’s study explores divine silence, and especially how we feel and respond when it seems that God is not listening or answering. Theologically, we know He is never absent, always listens, and always cares. But it doesn’t always feel that way!
In Psalm 35, David was in a difficult situation. His enemies were ravaging lions and he was their helpless victim (vv. 17, 19–21). He was praying for God to come to the rescue (vv. 23–26).
The lynchpin is verse 22: “Do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord.” To David, silence meant absence or passivity. From his perspective, it appeared that God was not interested in seeing justice done or defending his struggling worshiper. Thus, his primary prayer was a simple cry for God to show up and speak.
Without God’s help, David’s praises would be silenced. Notice his step of faith by giving praise to the Lord (vv. 18, 27–28) while simultaneously praying for Him not to be silent. Believing that God would respond, he chose not to remain silent but gave God the glory while the answer to his prayer was still pending.
David’s situation is not unusual for followers of Christ. Opposition might be a sign that we’re obeying Him. As Jesus warned His disciples: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. . . . Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18–21).