Silence can be a powerful weapon. During conflict, we might use silence as a way of defense or retreat. This is true not only in human relationships but also in our relationship with God. The Psalms model for us ways to engage with God even in the midst of intense suffering.
As David faced a trial, he begged God to listen and act. “To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me” (v. 1). David had not been silent with God and asked God to not be silent with him. He is persistent in his prayer, lifting up his hands toward the Holy of Holies (v. 2). We can be thankful that we have a God who does care and who listens to our prayers and responds, even if it does not feel like it in the moment. David saw people speak peacefully with their neighbors, but “harbor malice in their hearts” (v. 3). Their friendly disposition was really just a front to hide their malicious intent. These people were busy doing evil and did not care about the Lord (vv. 4–5). David asked that God would “bring back on them what they de- serve” (v. 4). He longed for God’s justice.
The tone of the psalm changes abruptly in verse 6. David resounds with praise to the Lord for answered prayer. It seems some time has gone by and David is able to rejoice in what God has done. The depth of his despair is matched by the exuberance of his joy. He closes the psalm by focusing on the people of Israel as a whole. He asks God to save, bless, and guide Israel (v. 9). He wants for his community the kind of answered prayer he has received personally.
When we experience hardships, it may seem like God is not listening. We may be tempted to go silent. After all, if it feels like God is not listening, why keep praying? But David models a way for us to engage with God during difficult times. Like David, you can pray, “Do not turn a deaf ear to me . . . hear my cry for mercy” (vv. 1–2).