When I write “stony silence,” what do you think of? A conversation that went too far? Anger? Or maybe the presentation that dwindled into awkward silence from boredom? Stony silence is not typically a goal for us writers—quite the opposite. So imagine my surprised when I noticed something in Scripture . . .
“To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me” (Psalm 28:1). Obviously, there’s some metaphorical language and symbolism going on, and I haven’t done a thorough word study on it or anything, but doesn’t that strike you as odd? “You are my Rock! Listen to me!”
I’ll go out on a limb (which is more flexible than a rock, generally) to say “strong, silent type” isn’t a usual description of rocks. Rocks are absolutely non-responsive. You can blow them apart and their only response is to fly in smaller bits wherever pressure carries them.
And, yes, I know, metaphors and linguistic devices mean we aren’t really calling God a Rock, a bit of hard creation, but bear with me a minute. Do we call out to rocks? I think we do. Even if you skip over the physicality of sitting down to dead wood and hardened plastic (in its various forms) to pour ourselves and our thoughts onto, what, markings on what once was white? Don’t we call out to the very silence we try to break?
A real audience includes hardened hearts, hearts of stone, evil (intended and unintended), and diverse fallible foundations depended on. There are people who may be typically non-responsive and when they do respond, it is as likely to be with bits of shrapnel as anything else. There are those who are immovable and many who don’t want to listen at all. Still, we speak or write even a feeble attempt against a vast wall.
But despite how hard and seemingly impossible it can be, there is another rock. He took on form and flesh for us. He is the very Word incarnate, who became a lamb led silently to slaughter.
Though He sometimes seems stonily silence when we want Him to speak apart from His Word, He is even a Rock who listens! To us! And speaks! To us! With actual words!!!
When we chalk something up, chalk is a little speaking, squeaking stone. But when God speaks, existence and faith spring into being. No amount of stony silence from anyone—or everyone—else can take that away from us. And what did the psalmist do in response? He wrote (!) and the Church sings on!
Psalm 28 ESV
1To you, O Lord, I call;
my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if you be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
2 Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy,
when I cry to you for help,
when I lift up my hands
toward your most holy sanctuary.
3 Do not drag me off with the wicked,
with the workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors
while evil is in their hearts.
4 Give to them according to their work
and according to the evil of their deeds;
give to them according to the work of their hands;
render them their due reward.
5 Because they do not regard the works of the Lord
or the work of his hands,
he will tear them down and build them up no more.
6 Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.
8 The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
9 Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
And with my song I give thanks to him!