In the text of this week’s sermon, Psalm 62, David wrote twice of “waiting in silence.”
“For God alone my soul waits in silence” (verse 1, ESV)
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence” (verse 5, ESV)
This silent waiting is such a key part of Psalm 62, we would do well to understand it and meditate on it this week as we let the words of this song soak into us and lead us to God, our Refuge.
So, what does it mean to “wait in silence”? What does it not mean? The English phrases, “waits in silence,” (v 1) and “wait in silence,” (v 5) are both translated from a Hebrew root which means to wait quietly or in stillness. It carries with it the sense of resting. Silence is not a bad way of translating the meaning given that one of the primary ways we express a restlessness in our souls is through the activity of our mouths!
But does this resting mean that we do nothing? Is the silence absolute? The resounding answer that we see in this Psalm is, “No!” Today, we’ll think on some things that are not part of waiting in silence, and, God willing, next time, we’ll consider some things that are part of such a resting wait.
In this psalm, David references a few things in which our souls may noisily attempt to rest:
- The positive regard of other people (verses 3-4)
- Keeping a low profile (verse 9)
- Personal power or friends in high places (verse 9)
- Money (verse 10)
There aren’t too many places in which we attempt to find rest that are more noisy than in the opinions and acceptance of other people. Such a pursuit is like aiming at a moving target. And then, if you think that you’ve made some progress, you discover that others were seeking their own advantage at your expense. So David says, “They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.” So much clamor! So much business! So much fear and anxiety! And never any rest! We all know to some degree what this is like.
And how about keeping a low profile so that we can gain quietness by isolation. Or, conversely, how about attempting to raise our profile such that we are indispensable in the circles that are important to us. We find that neither has the capability to keep us safe. The poor are swept away in the ambitions of the powerful every day. Then the powerful are overthrown just when they think they are safe. On a societal level, the convulsions of Marxism are born. “They are together lighter than a breath.”
Extortion and robbery may be quietly carried out, but they are obviously not the kind of quietness that David praises to others and commends to his own soul. Even if gain is obtained and accumulated through legitimate means, it cannot deliver anyone when it matters most – money won’t buy you life and it’s not edible. And it has a tendency to leave one owner for another at the most inopportune times. “If riches increase, set not your heart on them.” Or, in the words of Solomon, “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly is sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:4-5 ESV)
But God calls out to all mankind, “Come to me, and find refuge.” Faithful servants of God call to those around them, “Run to God, and find refuge!” Christ lovingly calls to people just like us who will hear him, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29-30 ESV)
Those whom God blesses are truly blessed with no hidden motives. There will be no shame for those who put their confidence in God – yes ungodly men may hate and scoff, but they will have no answer for themselves. God provides for His own better than you or I could provide for ourselves if we had all the gold and silver in the world.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23: 5-6 ESV) How’s that for a silent contrast to the noisiness of pursuing any refuge other than God? May God graciously grant us such quiet hearts of faith for His glory!