The Mission of the Divine Silence
Psalm 83:1
Keep not you silence, O God: hold not your peace, and be not still, O God.…

The occasion of the psalm is clearly some time of national peril from a confederacy of foes. The special distress is that, while the national enemies are vigorously active, God, the Defender of Israel, seems to be quiet, and even indifferent. The psalm is full of hope because, even while the fear of indifference on the part of God distresses the writer, he turns to God with importunate entreaties. The occasion may well have been the combination of Moab and Ammon against Israel in the days of Jehoshaphat, which is narrated in 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 (notice the reference to Asaph in ver. 14). The summary of confederated powers need not be regarded as more than a poetical expansion. A poet of Israel could not know with historical exactness the precise constituents of the opposing force. He gathers together all who were regarded as national foes. Bishop Perowne says, "The poet is fully alive to the danger which threatens his nation. Look where he may, the horizon is black with gathering clouds. Judah is alone, and his enemies are compassing him about. The hosts of the invaders are settling like swarms of locusts on the skirts of the land. East, south, and west, they are mustering to the battle. The kindred but ever hostile tribe of Edom on the border, issuing from their mountain fastnesses; the Arab tribes of the desert; the old hereditary foes of Israel, Moab and Ammon; the Philistines; - all are on the march; all, like hunters, are hemming in the lion who holds them at bay." The words used in this verse - "silence," "peace," "still" - involve the Divine refraining from both encouraging message and helpful action. This Divine dealing, though frequent, is always specially trying to faith; but it is designed to be the culture of that patience which is one of the best expressions of faith.

I. THE DIVINE PROMISE OF HELP. This is distinct, clear, full, unlimited. We may be absolutely sure of the Divine help forevery time of need. "God will help, and that right early."

II. THE DIVINE RESTRAINT FROM HELPING. The disposition of the Divine love may be to help at once. The decision of the Divine wisdom may be to withhold help for a while. And as the Divine wisdom and love are in perfect harmony, love supports the decision for restraint. Restraint is not refusal.

III. THE MISSION OF THE RESTRAINT TO ISRAEL'S FOES. It makes them presume, and so involves them in overwhelming calamities. Divine restraint leads the foe into hopeless situations.

IV. THE MISSION OF THE RESTRAINT TO GOD'S PEOPLE. It leads to self-revelation. We find out the imperfectness of our trust in God when we are put to the strain of waiting for his help. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Song or Psalm of Asaph.} Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

WEB: God, don't keep silent. Don't keep silent, and don't be still, God.

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