O God, Do Not Be Silent!Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
O God, do not be silent! Do not be deaf. Do not be quiet, O God.
Psalm 83 begins with a bold request: "O God, do not be silent! Do not be deaf. Do not be quiet, O God." This is one of scores of places in the Psalms where the psalm writer does not hold back from making what sounds like demands on the Almighty. This is not neat, tidy prayer, but gut-wrenching, heart-yearning, no-holds-barred communication with God.
Often, when a psalm writer cries out for God's help, it comes in the midst of personal need. In Psalm 35, for example, the psalmist is being battered by his enemies. Thus, he exclaims, "O LORD. . .Do not stay silent. Do not abandon me now, O Lord. Wake up! Rise to my defense!" (35:22-23). Psalm 35, among many others, encourages us to shout out to God for help when our own individual lives are falling apart.
But Psalm 83 is different. Not once in this psalm does the psalm writer (identified as Asaph) speak of his own individual pain and trauma. Rather, he is deeply concerned about what is happening to the people of God. Israel's enemies are scheming against them, seeking to wipe them out. The enemies have gathered together in an alliance to destroy Israel. Thus, when this psalm begins, "O God, do not be silent!" the psalmist is looking, not for personal deliverance, but rather for God's justice for others.
Psalm 83 inspires us to pray similarly. When we see oppression in our world, we should call out to God for deliverance. When we see violence, we should cry out for peace. When we see people mistreated, we should cry out for justice. Though the psalms give us ample reason to pray for our own needs, they also teach us to intercede for others with the same passion that inspires our passionate prayers when we are in a desperate situation.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever pray in the mode of Psalm 83? What helps you to see the needs of others? What stirs up in you a desire for their deliverance or justice? Do you regularly pray for God to intervene on behalf of others? If so, why? If not, why not? What might help you to imitate the example of Psalm 83 on a regular basis?
PRAYER: O God, do not be silent! Do not be deaf. Do not be quiet, O God.
Let your voice thunder with a call for justice in this world. Where people are caught in oppression, set them free. Where people are starving today, feed them. Where people are suffering abuse, may their abusers be vanquished. Where innocent lives are being taken, defend them. Where wars rage, bring your peace.
Even as I pray this way, I recognize that I am part of your body in this world. Help me and my fellow members to live actively as your body, to be people of justice and peace. May the theme of my prayers guide my own living today, for your glory and for the sake of your kingdom. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.