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silent night May 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Psalms 28, 39, 41, 42, 43, 84; 2Samuel 16:16-17:23

The Silence of God

When we have troubles and situations that do not seem to improve, even after we have tried to trust in the LORD, we may get discouraged and slip into periods of despair. What do we do about it? If we observe what King David did, we may be helped.

David, under pressure from a military takeover by one of his own sons, left the palace of Jerusalem. He trusted that if the LORD was pleased with him he would return. He seemed to think that would be forthcoming, but it was not. He then committed himself and all his entourage to wait on God and keep serving him. But after awhile of waiting, it appears David slipped into despair. David felt like God had turned a deaf ear to him. In Psalm 28:1-2 David says,

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. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place, (NIV).

David also went silent. He was the king and the people's most revered spiritual leader, but when he should have shared their pain and encouraged them and the soldiers to keep trusting God, it appears for a little while that David disappeared into a shell of despair. God’s hand of discipline was heavy upon him, and David wanted his joy renewed (Psalm 39:1-3, 7-11). Psalm 41, which may have been written about this time period, indicates David was even sick, making him more vulnerable to his enemies. In Psalm 42 David recalled the joyous times of the past when he led the people to worship the LORD and experienced his blessing and favor. Now his soul was very discouraged. He spent many days and nights in tears. What did he do?

First, he realized that though the LORD's hand was heavy upon him, God was still the source of his deliverance. He earnestly sought the LORD. He writes in Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV) Psalm 84 expresses similar sentiments.

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God…. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young-- a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. (Psalm 84:2-4, NIV)

Spurgeon Devotional Commentary gives this insight about those verses (Dr. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was a famous preacher in the 1800s):

He envied the little birds which lodged about the tabernacle. When far away from the Lord's altars he wished he had wings to fly to them, as the sparrows did, or build near them after the manner of the swallows.

When a child is disciplined he normally seeks the restoration and favor of his loving parent. When we are under severe trials we may feel an increased desire to pray, to confess our sins, to read our Bible, to draw near to God, to go to church, and to seek the fellowship of other Christians. The closer our relationship is to God the more we will desire to seek him.

Second, David had a frank talk with himself. David said in Psalm 42:11 and 43:5 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” (NIV). If we are experiencing the silence of God, we need to be sober minded about the situation in which we find ourselves. After assessing the situation we should make a commitment, like David, to trust God through our present difficulty.

Third, though the situation had not changed, David had. He continued praying for God’s deliverance but with a renewed confidence in God. In Psalm 43:1-4 David writes,

Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. You are God my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy? Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God. (NIV)

David’s sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah caused further problems for him. Under the advice of Ahithophel, Absalom slept with David's concubines, who were left at the palace to care for it. He did this evil act on top of the palace wall in the full sight of all Israel. Absalom's flagrant disdain for his father's honor fulfilled Nathan's prophecy in 2Samuel 12:11-12:

This is what the LORD says: “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret [took Uriah's wife, Bathsheba, to be your own and killed him], but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.” (NIV)

Was there no end to God's discipline? Did God forget David? No. We learn from 2Samuel 16:16 - 17:23 about a second aspect of God’s silence; God was quietly working on David’s behalf. He frustrated the counsel of Ahithophel, Absalom's most trusted counselor. David was protected from an attack that could have wiped him and his troops from the face of the earth. We can take encouragement from this. Though we may suffer wrong for our sins and/or the sins of others, God is merciful when we seek him. He quietly works on our behalf for our good and his glory. This is a good silence. Let's keep trusting in God; He will deliver us when the time is right.

Lessons to live by:

  • Some people experience the silence of God because they have no relationship with him. Do you want to change that? (more...)
  • Though the LORD's hand might be heavy upon us with trials, testing, or even sickness, God is still the source of our ultimate deliverance.
  • If we are experiencing the silence of God, we need to be sober minded about the situation in which we find ourselves. After assessing the situation we need to make a commitment, like David, to trust God through our present difficulty.
  • Your situation may not change, but if God has changed your heart attitude, continue to pray to him, trusting him for deliverance.
  • Though we may suffer wrong for our sins and/or the sins of others, God is merciful when we seek him. He quietly works on our behalf for our good and his glory. This is a good silence. Let's keep trusting in God; He will deliver us when the time is right.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 42:11 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (NIV)

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