Rodrigues, a seventeenth-century missionary in Japan in the novel Silence by Shusaku Endo, wrestled with the silence of God. Where was God, he wondered, when His church was suffering? Where was He when powerful and godless authorities exploited the poor and insulted His name? Where was He when new converts and young believers were tortured and martyred for their faith?
Despair is a natural feeling in response to the silence of God. As in Psalm 35 yesterday, Psalm 28 cries out to God not to be silent (v. 1). If the Rock turns a deaf ear, David feels he might as well be “like those who go down to the pit” (which is death)—or as it has been translated elsewhere, “I might as well give up and die.”
God’s silence is an absence not only of words but also of actions. So David prayed that the Lord would show mercy and rescue him, as well as repay the hypocritical evildoers what they deserved (vv. 2–4). The main reason they have earned His punishment is their disregard for the Lord (v. 5).
The psalm then turns from despair to joy (vv. 6–9). This shift in David’s emotional journey is raw, heartfelt, anguished—and full of faith. The psalms are emotionally honest, but they never wallow in self-centeredness. Despite his feelings, David still knows God to be his strength, shield, and shepherd. Though He seems silent now, He is a God who hears, speaks, saves, and blesses, and He will be true to His character.
Anticipating this, the psalmist trusts and sings praises to God. In fact, he “leaps for joy” (v. 7)! His knowledge of God goes deeper than his present circumstances, and so the joy of faith overcomes the despair he feels from God’s momentary silence.
Like the psalmist, we can take our feelings—any feelings—to the Lord. He can handle them. But also like the psalmist, we should not wallow in self-centeredness or turn our emotions into an idol. We should express our feelings in faith. In the end, the arc of faith, however long it takes, leads to the joy of the Lord. He is our Rock!