Silent Before God
Psalm 39:9
I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because you did it.

This psalm is the utterance of a man in trouble. It thrills with a strong but repressed feeling. In a thoughtful man, trouble always doubles itself. Added to the smart of the immediate affliction is the moral problem which it raises, of the reason and the justice of God's administration in the world, of the permission of evil, of the tendency and destiny of this vain show called life. Every special sorrow or disaster is a stream, setting towards this unfathomable ocean of thought, with a swift and resistless current. The psalm represents a familiar experience. So many feel, if they do not think, deeply. But there is strong repression here as well as strong feeling. The writer is on his guard against hasty speech. "I said, I will take heed," etc. But in our text we get down to a deeper reason for silence. The man is so overcome by the grandeur and the mystery of God's dealing with him that he is forced to be silent. There are some mysteries that we can — so we think — solve, but there are others concerning which we can only say, "Thou didst it" — that is all. We stand like a belated traveller before the closed gate of an Egyptian temple, rising, low-brewed and grim, under the stars, and no sound answers our knock. This, then, is the simple, stern picture of our text — a man in silence before the truth, God did it! The text assumes God to be a fact, and further assumes faith in God. God and His providence are both taken for granted. What, then? Well it is something to have got firm hold of a fact. A great deal is gained when the sorrow, however severe, or the mystery, however dark, has been traced up to God. When we can say, not something, but some one, did it, the matter is greatly simplified. We have no longer to count chances. Whatever we may think of the dispensation we know its source. God did it. A teacher sets for a boy a hard problem in algebra. The boy goes resolutely to work. The day passes, and he cannot solve it. He takes it home with him, and works at it there. He comes back next day to the teacher, and says, "I cannot do it;" and then he begins to talk passionately, to tell what methods he has tried, to hint that the teacher may have made a mistake in his statement, to complain that this or that in his algebra is not clearly defined. The teacher sees the difficulty; and, as the first step toward clearing it up, he quietly says, "Be still! Do not talk any morel I set the problem, and I know it is right." And if he says no more, and the boy goes back to his seat, he has gained something in that interview. There is power in the thought which the lad turns over in his mind, "This problem was set by somebody that knows. My teacher, whom [ have always found wise and truthful, did it." The thought that there may have been a mistake in the statement of the sum goes out of his mind, and the matter is thus far relieved, at any rate; and, under the impulse of that relief, he may attack the question again, and successfully; or, if not, he will gain by silence, by restraint. The teacher wisely silences him, not to check his inquiry, but to bring his mind into the right condition to receive explanation. And this is just how God often deals with us. "Well," it may be said, "all that may do very well for a child; but a reasoning man cannot be disposed of in that way." All I can say is, many a reasoning man has to accept that or nothing. And after all, it may be that the child's satisfaction has something rational at bottom, Reason cannot compel God to answer; and suppose it could, would man be the better? Take a simple illustration. There are certain reasons connected with your child's education or inheritance which constrain you to live for some years in an uncongenial and unpleasant place. Neither climate, scenery, nor society is what you could desire. The child asks, "We are not poor, are we, father?" — "No." — "Could we not live somewhere else?" — "Yes." — "Then, why do we stay here when there are so many pleasant places elsewhere?" You cannot tell him; he could not understand the reasons; but, for all that, the lesson that child learns through your silence, through being obliged to be content with the simple fact, father does it, is more valuable than the knowledge of the reasons. Even if he should make a shrewd guess at your reasons, that would not please you half so much as his cheerful, unquestioning acceptance of the truth that you love him, and will do what is best for him. Now, in such dependence upon God lies the very foundation of all true character, and this is why God lays so much stress on this lesson, and so often brings us face to face with His "I did it." That kind of teaching may not make philosophers — when it does, it makes them of large mould — but it makes Pauls and Luthers. But as we look at this, "Thou didst it," we find it has some treasures of knowledge for us. Faith is not ignorance. We begin to make discoveries — this one, that if God did it, then infinite wisdom did it, and infinite power did it. "Ah!" you say, "we know that but too well. The stroke is on our hearts and homes. It is written on fresh graves, and in the scar of dreary partings." All true. But has power no other aspect than this terrible one? Shall we symbolize it only by a hand hurling thunderbolts? or may we not picture a hand, strong indeed, but open, and pouring forth blessings? "All power is given unto me," says Jesus. Yet He laid His hand on blind eyes, and they saw; on the paralytic, and he leaped and ran. God did it, and therefore I know that infinite love did it. That is a piece of knowledge worth having indeed. Surely, when we reach that, we find the rock yielding water. Ah! we have to creep back for rest into the shadow of love after all. And how this truth gathers power when we go to this text, taking Christ with us! How it kindles under His touch! God did it; and I look up into that face of unspeakable love, with its thorn-marked brow, and say, "Thou didst it. He that hath seen Thee hath seen the Father. I am in sorrow; the sorrow is driven home by a pierced hand: Thou didst it. The pierced hand tells me of the loving heart behind the hand; and, if love hath done it, let me be silent and content."

(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.

WEB: I was mute. I didn't open my mouth, because you did it.

Christian Resignation
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