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

Wait in Silence

Judgment unto Victory

Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delighteth: I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry, nor lift up his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street. A bruised reed will he not break, and a dimly burning wick will he not quench: he will bring forth justice in truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set justice in the earth; and the isles shall wait for his law (Isaiah 42:1-4).

One of the more puzzling aspects of Jesus’ ministry on the earth involves His admonishment of many of those whom He healed to not proclaim what He did for them. Why would He do such things but not want them to be made known? And why is He inconsistent about it?

It is not as if the “ban” on discussing what Jesus did was permanent; after all, we read about these events in the Gospel narratives. Jesus told Peter, James, and John to not speak of His Transfiguration until after He rose from the dead (Matthew 17:9). Furthermore, Jesus told the man from whom He cast out Legion to declare to all in his house what God did for him (cf. Luke 8:38-39). What is motivating Jesus to do what He is doing?

Matthew provides us a glimpse into the logic behind Jesus’ actions in Matthew 12:15-21. Matthew tells us how Jesus healed many people, but then charged them not to make Him known (Matthew 12:15-16). Matthew then establishes that He did so in order to fulfill what was spoken of Him by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 42:1-4 (Matthew 12:17-21). But how does Isaiah 42:1-4 relate to Jesus’ admonishments?

The heart of the matter can be found in Isaiah 42:2: He will not cry, nor lift up His voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street. This does not seem to be a prophecy of Jesus on the surface; Jesus most assuredly has been active in preaching and teaching throughout Israel (cf. Matthew 4:17, 23, 5:1-7:27, etc.). Matthew, of course, is well aware of this, and yet he is certain that the prophecy does relate to Jesus.

We do well, therefore, to understand Isaiah 42:2 in terms of the “silence” He requests from those of Israel whom He heals. When we consider the entire prophecy, this makes sense: the Servant is in the process of establishing justice on the earth. He is working toward sending forth judgment in truth and victory. But He is not there yet, and there is plenty of room for confusion. If the proclamations were made too soon, the people of God would misunderstand Jesus’ purposes, convinced that He was doing what they expected out of their Messiah. They would make Him into the Messiah of their own desires as opposed to allowing Him to be the Messiah in whom God is pleased, whom God upholds.

This judgment in truth and victory comes with His death and resurrection after which all of these things can be made known and properly understood. The “silence” is necessary because of the lack of understanding of Israel, even among His own disciples (cf. Matthew 16:15-23, John 2:18-22). Through His deeds and His teachings Jesus was setting forth the context for His Kingdom which He was busy establishing; the time was not yet to have His deeds proclaimed among Israel.

Yet this was not the same story among the Gentiles. The Servant came to bring justice to the Gentiles; in Him the Gentiles would hope; the islands, to be understood as people afar off, wait for His law. Such is why He encourages the man from whom Legion was cast out to proclaim what God had done for him (cf. Luke 8:26-39): since he lived across the Sea of Galilee from Galilee, he is in the Decapolis, a mostly Gentile area, and the Gentiles are to hear of the powerful working of Jesus the Servant of God, manifest as well in Acts 10:36-38.

Jesus’ insistence on people not making Himself or His deeds known does seem strange but is a bit more understandable when considering the prophecy. Everything Jesus says and does will make sense after His death and resurrection even if it is hard to comprehend beforehand. As God’s Servant, Jesus is preparing the ground for His Kingdom, the moment when He will send forth judgment unto victory, the hope of Jew and Gentile alike. The time has come to make known to all men the teachings and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth so that all may place their trust in Him so as to obtain eternal life. Let us place our hope in Jesus’ name!

Ethan R. Longhenry

Judgment unto Victory