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silent night May 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Psalms 28, 39, 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. What does he do now?

David commits himself, his soldiers, and all his train to wait on God and keep serving Him. But after awhile of waiting, it appears David slips into despair. David feels like God has turned a deaf ear to him. David writes a song (Psalm) about his experiences.

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, (Psalm 28:1-2, NIV).

Then David goes silent. He is 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 David disappears into a shell of despair. God’s hand of discipline is heavy upon him, and David wants his joy renewed (Psalm 39:1-3, 7-11). In Psalm 42 David writes of the joyous times of the past when he led the people to worship the LORD and experience His blessing and favor. Now his soul is very discouraged. He spends many days and nights in tears. What does he do to get out of this depression?

First, he realizes that although the LORD's hand is heavy upon him, God is still the source of his deliverance. He earnestly seeks the LORD. He writes “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?” (in Psalm 42:1-2, NIV) Another of his songs 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 these 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 has a frank talk with himself. David writes 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, although the situation remains the same (meaning the exile and dangerous threat from Absalom), David has changed. He continues praying for God’s deliverance but with a renewed confidence in the LORD. 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 causes further problems for him. Under the advice of Ahithophel, his most trusted advisor, Absalom sleeps with David's concubines, who are left at the palace to care for it. He does 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 fulfills Nathan's prophecy.

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.” ( 2Samuel 12:11-12, NIV)

David wonders, “is there no end to God's discipline? Did God forget me?” No. We learn from today's Bible reading (2Samuel 16:16 - 17:23) that in silence God is working on David’s behalf. He frustrates the counsel of Ahithophel by the counsel of Hushai the Arkite. David is protected from an attack that could have wiped him and his troops from the face of the earth. We can take encouragement from this. Although we may suffer wrong for our sins 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...)
  • Although the LORD's hand might be heavy upon us with trials and testing, 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.
  • Our situation may not change, but if God has changed our heart attitude, we should continue to pray to Him, trusting him for deliverance.
  • Though we may suffer wrong for our sins 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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