2007-07-14 - Call out the Silence
Psalm 28:1, "To you I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit."
This verse is the start of a Psalm of David, where he is in an attitude of solemnity, coming before the Lord, and seeking favor from the living God. There is a lot of wisdom that we see in David here. Who else can we turn to? Where else can we go, when all around us seems to crash about, and it seems that no deliverance is in transit from any direction?
We turn to the Lord. He is our Rock. He will hear our cries unto Him. He will not forsake His child whom He loving cares for and tenderly loves. Our Lord surely is a refuge to all who seek Him. "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms," Deuteronomy 33:27. The Lord also promises to hear us when we are in distress. David reminds himself of this in Psalm 6:8, when he says, "For the Lord has heard all my weeping." Our God is loving and merciful to us, even when we feel He is distant. He lovingly hears our cries, concerns, and fears. He meets us in our needs and provides compassionately in His love. David speaks of the "great compassion" of the Lord in Psalm 51:1. His compassion unto us is wonderful, and only magnifies His grace.
Next we see David implying that the Lord might remain silent. But I don't think that this is really what he is saying. It would be a natural way to interpret the phrase, "For if you remain silent," in a manner that the Lord might be silent in respect to our cries unto Him, but I think that we cannot tear the first part of this phrase from the second part, "I will be like those who have gone down to the pit." We will touch on that below, but here let us say that David is saying something to the Lord that is instructive to us. He is reminding the Lord that if the Lord did not hear his prayer, He would be treating David as He does those He does not love, and does not cherish in redeeming grace. David says to the Lord that if the Lord remained silent to his prayer, there would be no difference between how He treated those whom He did not love and those He did love. David is reminding God of His promises to bless those who make Him their Lord.
David is claiming the promises of the Lord. We should all claim the promises of the Lord unto us. We should not do as many, in these days of false prophets, and claim material victory, release, freedom, or blessings in the name of the Lord. Rather, we claim those promises that are in Christ. In Christ, we are promised freedom from sin and peace of conscience. In Christ, we are given wholeness and a renewed nature that is no longer at enmity with God. In Christ, we can now call the Lord of Creation our friend.
Lastly, we have this phrase about those who go down to the pit. This is a clear reference to Hell. Nobody likes to talk about Hell anymore. We have Hellphobia, and in one respect, I encourage you all to catch a healthy dose of Hellphobia and come to Christ for forgiveness from your sins. The kind of Hellphobia I discourage us all from having is the fear of talking about Hell. David is making a reference to those who the Lord has forsaken and punished for their sins by sending them to everlasting torment. He makes a profound claim here. The Lord does not hear their cries. It is a warning to us, and to everyone who reads his words, that there will be a time when the Lord will no longer hear the cries of His creation for mercy. He will eternally abandon them to everlasting pain and torment. It is as if David is saying in this last part of the verse, "Don't treat me like those upon whom you have hid Your face. Do not remain silent to my cries, as You are to their cries."
It is a frightful consideration, and one I don't want to simply drop. We do not talk much about the wrath of God. It is much more popular to speak of His love and kindness. In many respects, this is proper, because it is a right response of thankfulness to bless God for His mercies usward. However, we err when we only speak of God's love, because we do not present the whole picture. We cannot so gravitate to the loving God, that we forget the God of justice and wrath that God's Word clearly reveals unto us. We must speak of the whole God who has been revealed to us in Scripture. We fail when we emphasize love at the expense of the whole truth.
It is not pleasant to dwell on, but let us use the realities of Hell and punishment for sin, to be a motivation in speaking of Christ's love unto those we know. Let us, ourselves, cry out to the Lord for those we know and love who are lost and without hope. This is both a useful and proper response to contemplating God's eternal wrath.
Soli Deo Gloria,