Wait in Silence

My soul waiteth in silence for God only / From him cometh my salvation (Psalm 62:1).

If God is who He says He is, we must trust Him and find our security in Him and in no other.

We know this to be true in terms of intellect and cognition: we understand the logical nature of the premise, and by faith we accept it to be true. And yet what happens the moment we are tempted to trust in someone, or something, else? Or, perhaps, what happens when it is revealed to us just how much we have been trusting in someone, or something, else, and not truly in God?

David meditated on the matter in Psalm 62:1-12. David waited in soul in silence for God, and God alone, for his salvation came from God: God was his rock, salvation, and high tower, so David would not be moved (Psalm 62:1-2). David noticed how many people laid in wait to strike one another: they focused on other people to tear them down, delighting in lies; they might bless with their mouths, but they curse in their hearts (Psalm 62:3-4). Thus David reinforced his message: his soul should wait for God only and in silence, for David’s expectation is from Him, his rock, salvation, and high tower, so he would not be moved; his salvation and glory were with God, and in God was his strength and refuge (Psalm 62:5-7). David called all people to trust him at all times, pouring out their hearts before Him, for He is their refuge (Psalm 62:8). David again considered humanity and how he could not rely upon any: those of low esteem are “vanity,” a breath (cf. Ecclesiastes 1:2, etc.); those of high esteem lie; they all, when weighted, are lighter than vanity/a breath (Psalm 62:9). People should not trust in oppression or robbery; if people gain wealth they should not trust in it (Psalm 62:10). David has seen the end of the matter: God has spoken, that power belongs to Him, as well as hesed, where covenant loyalty meets steadfast love; in His faithfulness to His covenant God will render to every person according to what they have done (Psalm 62:11-12).

David thus understood who God is: all power belongs to Him, and He is faithful to His covenant. Thus David recognized his need to wait for God in silence, to trust in God as the source of his salvation and a place of refuge and strength. People always fail: they are here one day, and gone the next, and focus the whole time on looking better by reckoning others as worse. Wealth, whether gained honorably or dishonorably, is vain, and does not deliver on its promises; poverty is no less vain.

The world has not appreciably changed in these regards over the past three thousand years. People still always fail. People still focus on other people, looking for reasons to tear down others and look better by comparison, as exemplified in modern social media. Those lowly esteemed in society remain but a breath, a vanity; those more highly esteemed promote the lies that allowed them and their ancestors to obtain that esteem and the privileges which flow from it. Wealth remains as David, and Jesus and Paul, described it: a continual source of temptation toward idolatry, to trust in one’s material prosperity over the God who gave it all (cf. Luke 12:13-48, 1 Timothy 6:3-10, 17-19). Meanwhile, God remains all powerful, and has proven faithful to covenant; He will recompense all according to what they have done (Romans 2:5-11, 13:1, Hebrews 10:19-25).

As Christians we “know” these things: we accept their truth on a cognitive level. But how deeply have we internalized it? Has it transformed our hearts? Has God revealed to us our dependence on the opinions of others, our valuation of our status, whether low or high, and/or our reliance on material wealth, whether by heeding His wisdom or through trials and distress? Have we really learned to depend upon God as our refuge from all of the unreliability of the world, or are we still trying really hard to make the world more reliable for us?

How we answer these questions might depend on how well we have internalized and practiced David’s posture in Psalm 62:1-11: do we wait for Him in silence? Waiting for God requires great patience: God works according to His time scale, and that goes well beyond ours. We may cry out for justice, peace, or any number of things, and have to suffer long until God’s purposes are fully accomplished. Watching God’s purposes play out can be a glorious thing; when in judgment, it can prove quite painful, and more prolonged than we might want to imagine. Yet, as God’s people, we must reckon God’s longsuffering as salvation (2 Peter 3:15): if God had proven as patient with us as we are with Him, we would all be doomed.

We must also wait for God in silence. Most of us do not tolerate silence well. We find it awkward. We want to fill that time and space with noise and busy activities. Perhaps, in the silence, gnawing questions, trauma from our past, or other things bubble up, and we would rather not address them. Perhaps we have been acculturated to resist silence, choosing the dopamine release of constant stimulation from devices or activities. Or perhaps we lack the patience to sit in the silence. Such is especially manifest in our prayer life: do we ever just sit with God without having to speak? Is there any other relationship in our lives that only involves one-way monologue quite like the relationship many of us have with God in prayer?

God has all power; God displays covenant loyalty, and because of that covenant loyalty will both reward those who seek Him and judge those who do not. We are weak; He is strong. We are often and easily beset with temptations and trials; He can rescue us. We easily look to the idols of this world, making much of little and esteeming little of what is great; He would be our everything, but only if we wait on Him in silence. As God’s people we will learn to wait for God in silence by heeding such wisdom, be humbled by our circumstances and trials as through fire to wait for God in silence, or have our idolatry exposed, either to repent and turn to the living God or to cling to them ever more closely and go into perdition because of them. May we all turn to God in heart as well as mind, and wait for Him in silence!

Ethan R. Longhenry

Faith Despite Hostility

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
YHWH, how are mine adversaries increased! Many are they that rise up against me.
Many there are that say of my soul, “There is no help for him in God.” Selah.
But thou, O YHWH, art a shield about me; my glory and the lifter up of my head.
I cry unto YHWH with my voice; and he answereth me out of his holy hill. Selah.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for YHWH sustaineth me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people that have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O YHWH; save me, O my God:
For thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongeth unto YHWH: Thy blessing be upon thy people. Selah (Psalm 3:1-8).

David’s world seemed over.

All Israel and Judah had gone over to his son Absalom who had betrayed him and declared himself king. David’s most trusted counselor Ahithophel defected to Absalom. David had just experienced humiliation at the hands of Benjaminites; even Jonathan’s son to whom David had acted in such kindness had turned against him. Nothing would ever be the same; if he lived it meant his son had died. If his son’s rebellion succeeded it would mean his own end. Such was David’s condition during the rebellion of Absalom as recorded in 2 Samuel 15:1-16:23, providing the context for Psalm 3:1-8 according to its superscription.

One might think that such a situation would lead David to despair. David is aware of his difficulties and knows that many believe that he has no hope; nevertheless Psalm 3 maintains a defiant tone of confidence and faith in YHWH despite his circumstances. David knows his enemies have multiplied (Psalm 3:1-2), yet he considers YHWH as his shield and source of strength, the One who answers him when he calls (Psalm 3:3-4). David can lie down in sleep and arise again since YHWH sustains him; he is not afraid of all who arise against him (Psalm 3:5-6). David asks YHWH to rescue him from his plight and to render his foes harmless (Psalm 3:7). Salvation belongs to YHWH; David asks YHWH to spread His blessings over His people (Psalm 3:8).

David’s confidence is well-placed. His forces gain the victory; the rebellion is crushed. Psalm 3 remains. It would give voice and confidence to generations of Israelites who felt surrounded by enemies but who relied upon YHWH for their strength and sustenance.

About a thousand years after David one of his descendants found Himself in a similar situation. He had entered Jerusalem in triumph; within a week He was betrayed by one of His closest associates, condemned to die by the people who once lauded and praised Him, and found Himself surrounded by foes. In that situation Jesus of Nazareth maintained His trust and confidence in God; even though He suffered the taunts of His enemies who were convinced God had abandoned Him, He accomplished God’s purposes for Him in His suffering and death (Matthew 26:1-27:56, Hebrews 5:8-9). Having done God’s will, Jesus laid down and slept in death (Matthew 27:45-66).

Yet, on the third day, Jesus awoke in the resurrection, for YHWH sustained Him (Matthew 28:1-10). Through His death and resurrection Jesus gained God’s victory over the forces of sin and death (Romans 8:1-3, Ephesians 2:11-18). Now through Jesus salvation is freely offered to everyone and the rich spiritual blessings of God available to any and all who call upon His name (Romans 5:6-11, Ephesians 1:3).

Even to this day the people of God frequently find themselves beset by foes. Their enemies are convinced that the people of God have no help coming to them and are finished. Many times God’s people begin to worry that their opponents may have a point. At such times we do well to remember Psalm 3:1-8 and to sing and/or pray it before the LORD our God. In so doing we can remember that David was beset by foes but God gave him the victory, that Jesus gained victory by suffering the evil done to Him by His foes, and take heart and strength and know that through Jesus we will gain the victory as well. God sustains us; we may sleep in death at the end of this life but we know that God will raise us in Christ (Romans 8:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:20-58). If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31-39)? If we maintain trust in God, what can our foes do to us? Salvation belongs to our God, and He gives it freely to us in Christ. Let us establish God in Christ as our hope and trust and through Him gain confidence no matter what befalls us!

Ethan R. Longhenry

Divine Kindness

“But love your enemies, and do them good, and lend, never despairing; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be sons of the Most High: for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil” (Luke 6:35).

Love and kindness come easily for those who are loving and kind to us.  We enjoy time we spend with those who love us and who are kind to us.  We get together with them and eat and give presents and receive presents.  We recognize that such people in our lives help make life worth living.

Can you imagine attempting to share such gifts with those who hate you?  What happened if you gave gifts to ungrateful people?  What if you did good to others and were repaid with evil?  What happens if you lend someone money and they never repay?

According to human logic, we would at best have nothing to do with such persons, and at worst do them harm (cf. Matthew 5:43).  It is expected that lovable people are loved and unlovable people are shunned.  It is expected that those who are ungrateful get little and those who do not repay have no credit.

Yet, in the Kingdom of God, all of these things are turned on their head.  Jesus turns the world upside down!  He prayed for those who reviled Him and crucified Him (Luke 23:34).  He prayed for His disciple whom He knew would deny Him (Luke 22:31-32).

As it is written,

For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life; and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation (Romans 5:6-11).

While it is always easier to point fingers at everyone else, we must recognize that we, too, have spent our time in unkindness and ungratefulness (Titus 3:3-8).  God has showed kindness to us when we were unthankful and evil.  He showed us mercy despite our unmerciful attitudes.  He was not yet willing to condemn us even though we were willing to condemn others.  He provided wonderful gifts even though we forsook Him.

Therefore, it ought to be but a little thing for us to show divine kindness: love and help not just those who love us and help us, but also to those who make us uncomfortable, those who might use and abuse us, and those who may hate us.  After all, without God showing us such divine kindness, where would be be?

Ethan R. Longhenry