The Gift of Silence: Psalm 65

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Today’s Sunday Psalms entry is written by Timothy Tennent.

Psalm 65 (NIV)

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.

You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
    and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
    the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
    and the valleys are mantled with grain;
    they shout for joy and sing.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

It is a long-standing tradition of the church to have late-night prayer meetings to bring in the New Year waiting on God and asking his blessing on the upcoming year. The opening verse has been notoriously difficult to translate. The opening verse of Psalm 65 probably should be rendered, “Silence is praise to you, O God . . .” We live in a world where silence is seldom experienced. Whether it is the busy noise of traffic passing by, the TV blaring, or the constant interruptions of various rings and dings from our cell phones and social media, we seldom simply stop and sit before God in silence.

Psalm 65 reminds us that the Lord regards silence as an act of praise. Sometimes we don’t even need to voice our deepest prayers, but simply sit in God’s presence and let him still the raging sea that is in turmoil within us. Psalm 65 foreshadows that great moment in the ministry of Jesus when he calmed the angry sea: O God “who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations” (v. 7). We should not forget that Christ is Lord over the created order, that we are part of that created order, and, as such, Christ is love over us and can calm the tumult in our lives as surely as he did the Sea of Galilee.

It is fascinating that the psalm ends with a wonderful survey of the creation describing how God is at work all around us in ways we often do not stop to notice. The rain, the meadows, the rivers, the grain growing in the fields are all testimonies of God’s faithfulness (vv. 9–13). In a fascinating turn, although the psalm begins with silence, it ends with noticing the wordless but triumphant creation, which in all its glory, shouts for joy and sings (v. 13).

Sometimes we are so overwhelmed we don’t even have words to pray. We just sit in silence before God. This can be one of the greatest acts of trust and faith. In fact, this is the kind of silence that is an act of praise. We have stilled our tendency to give God advice on how to help us and how to run this world. We have stilled our tendency to offer God endless excuses for our behavior and attitudes. We no longer have solutions or strategic plans. We only have silence and trust. We begin to notice God’s amazing providential care all around us. In our silence, we may even begin to hear the joyous shouts of creation. This is one of God’s greatest gifts to us.

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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