Nate’s Notes: Sound of Silence

Psalm 69: 7-16 4 (NIV) 7 For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. 8 I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children; 9 for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. 10 When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn; 11 when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. 12 Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards. 13 But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. 14 Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. 15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me. 16 Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me.

Alienation, hatred, shame, and scorn are problems that continue to afflict us today. Psalm 69:8 haunts me, “I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children.” The psalmist even felt like a foreigner and stranger to his family.

We have more ways to communicate with each other today, but in many ways we live in fragmented modern communities; technology can either draw us closer together or increase our anger, loneliness, and pain.

According to the Smithsonian magazine, “It has been 50 years since Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence topped Billboard magazine’s pop singles chart.” The song had “become a cultural touchstone—a generation’s shorthand for alienation.” The lyrics are tragic from the beginning line of “Hello darkness my old friend” to “And whispered in the sound of silence.” Instead of praying to the Lord, “the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made.” People spoke but could not hear.

The Sound of Silence

Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again because a vision softly creeping, left its seeds while I was sleeping and the vision that was planted in my brain still remains within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone narrow streets of cobblestone ‘Neath the halo of a street lamp I turned my collar to the cold and damp. When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light, that split the night And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more people talking without speaking people hearing without listening. People writing songs that voices never share. And no one dared disturb the sound of silence.

Fools, said I, you do not know silence like a cancer grows. Hear my words that I might teach you. Take my arms that I might reach you. But my words, like silent raindrops fell and echoed in the wells of silence.

And the people bowed and prayed to the neon god they made. And the sign flashed out its warning in the words that it was forming. And the sign said, the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sounds of silence.

Fortunately, the solution to the problem is timeless. Simon and Garfunkel did a masterful job of chronicling the aching loneliness and false promises of our world; however, they offered no solutions. Praise God that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is not silent.

The Psalmist prays to the Lord and remembers His great love. He calls on the Lord to rescue him because of the Father’s great mercy. No matter what faces us, we can be confident in the love and mercy of our King. Martin Luther echoed this hope in his great hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God.

A mighty Fortress is our God, A Bulwark never failing; Our Helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing:

We have knowledge that not even the writers of the Psalms possessed.

According to Luther in the same hymn:

Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing: Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;[3]

If only Simon and Garfunkel had known the answer to the crisis spoken of in their song.

Luke 5:12-13 12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Jesus touched the untouchable and reached out to lepers, Romans, Samaritans, tax collectors, the woman caught in adultery, and others alienated from society. No matter who you are or what you have done, Jesus has his arms open wide to everyone who acknowledges him as Lord and Savior.

Who do you know who is hopeless or lonely? How can you share God’s love with those around you? Who can you call, email, message, text, or visit? Our Heavenly Father remembers even a cup of cold water given in the name of Jesus.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for adopting us into your family and demonstrating your love and mercy through Your Son. We praise You because Your Spirit comforts and strengthens. May we extend your love and mercy to others following Jesus’ perfect example. Amen.