I am mute; I do not open my mouth,
for it is you who have done it. Psalm 39:9
David looked through secondary causes to the first cause, and was silent. The sight of God in an affliction is irresistibly effective to silence the heart, and to stop the mouth of a gracious man. It is the duty of gracious souls to so act under the greatest afflictions and saddest providences. This is a prudent and holy silence. It sees God, and acknowledges him as the author in all our afflictions: ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away’ (Job 1:21). If Job had not seen God in his affliction, he would have cried out, ‘O these wretched Chaldeans, they have plundered and spoiled me!’ Job discerned God’s commission in their hands and laid his hand upon his mouth. Aaron, beholding the hand of God in the untimely death of his sons, held his peace (Lev. 10:3). The sight of God in this sad stroke is a bridle both to his mind and mouth. Joseph saw the hand of God in his brothers selling him into Egypt (Gen. 45:8). Men that do not see God in an affliction are easily cast into a feverish fit. They will quickly be in a flame, and when their passions are up, they will begin to be saucy, and make no bones of telling God to his face that they do well to be angry (Jon. 4:8-9). Those who see the hand of God in their afflictions, will, with David, lay their hands upon their mouths (2 Sam. 16:11-12). If God’s hand is not seen, the heart will fret and rage under affliction. Aaron saw God’s sovereignty, and it silenced him. Job saw God’s majesty, and it stilled him. Eli saw God’s authority, and it quieted him (1 Sam. 3:11, 19). When afflictions arrest us, we shall murmur and grumble and struggle until we see that it is God that strikes. We must see him as King of kings, and Lord of lords and stoop under his almighty majestic hand.
In this classic devotional, John Calvin urges readers to apply the Christian life in a balanced way to mind, heart, and hand. Rather than focusing on contemplative otherworldliness, the book stresses the importance of a devotedly active Christian life. In style and spirit, this book is much like Augustine’s Confessions, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, or Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ. However, its intense practicality sets it apart, making it easily accessible for any reader seeking to carry out Christian values in everyday life. Chapter themes include obedience, self-denial, the significance of the cross, and how we should live our lives today.