Yesterday, we considered the exhortation of the psalmist to believe that the God who had been faithful to past generations would be faithful to the present generation. We considered the truth that God’s steadfast love, which has proved so powerful to previous generations, is powerful to save us in our affliction.
Of course, we know that deliverance does not always come here and now. We know that God can spare our loved one of the dread disease, yet he does not always do so. We know that God can provide a stable income, yet he does not always do so. We know that God can save our unsaved loved ones, yet he does not always do so. What should be our response when God does not seem to come immediately to our rescue? Psalm 108 helps to answer that question.
The psalmist begins by stating his conviction: “My heart is steadfast, O God!” (v. 1). We are accustomed to reading such statements of faith in the Psalms, but we must not miss the fact that, while David expressed his firm conviction in Yahweh, circumstances did not change. Having expressed his conviction (v. 1a) he stands in anticipation of God’s power to deliver (vv. 1b–2). He prepares the harp and lyre to awaken the dawn with praise for God’s deliverance. Indeed, he prepares to sing God’s praises among the nations and praises him for his steadfast love (vv. 3–4). He recognises his God as exalted above heaven and earth (v. 5) and pleads with the Lord to hear his prayer and deliver (v. 6). In point of fact, he roots his prayer in Yahweh’s firm promises (vv. 7–9).
But the psalm takes a drastic shift in v. 10. The cries of faith suddenly turn to questions of despair. It seemed as if God did not show up as promised (v. 10). In fact, it appears that God had rejected his people and refused to fight for them (v. 11). For all his cries of faith, it seems that his prayers went unanswered.
Do you know the feeling? Do you know what it is to assault the throne of grace daily for the salvation of your lost spouse or child but grow in despair as the years pass with not so much as a hint of conviction of sin on their part? Do you know what it is to plead with God daily for relief from your chronic pain or despairing anxiety but find yourself wondering if he has turned a deaf ear? Do you know what it is to beseech him day after day for suitable employment only to have application after application rejected? Do you know what it is to wrestle fervently for grace to overcome a pet sin with no positive outcome? Do you know what it is to pray—or at least to think—as David did: “Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go out, O God, with our armies” (v. 11). How should you respond?
Consider, briefly, how David responded in the closing verses.
First, he persisted in prayer. “Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!” (v. 12). It seemed as if God had chosen not to go out with Israel’s armies, but that did not stop David from praying. He continued to beat on the door of heaven, confident that his persistent prayers were honouring to God.
Believer, when your prayers go unanswered, don’t give up. You may not understand why God is delaying but Scripture is replete with examples of men and women of faith who persisted in prayer despite the seeming silence of heaven. Imitate their faith.
Second, he did not lose his faith. “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (v. 13). He began the psalm by expressing his steadfast heart and he did not lose his steadfast faith even in the face of unanswered prayer. God may not have answered, but he knew that God was perfectly capable of doing so.
Christian, don’t allow God’s seeming silence to rob you of your faith in him. Your confidence is rooted in what Scripture teaches, not in what your experience suggests. Even in silence, continue praying, and continue trusting the one who is able to answer your prayers valiantly.