When God Will Not Answer

I was struck by 1 Samuel 8:18 some time ago in my devotional reading

 18 וּזְעַקְתֶּם֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא מִלִּפְנֵ֣י מַלְכְּכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּחַרְתֶּ֖ם לָכֶ֑ם וְלֽא־יַעֲנֶ֧ה יְהוָ֛ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם בַּיּ֥וֹם הַהֽוּא׃

18  "Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

It turns out that there are at least three other places where God said he would not answer:

1) 1 Sam. 28:6  When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.
 6 וַיִּשְׁאַ֤ל שָׁאוּל֙ בַּֽיהוָ֔ה וְל֥א עָנָ֖הוּ יְהוָ֑ה גַּ֧ם בַּחֲלֹמ֛וֹת גַּ֥ם בָּאוּרִ֖ים גַּ֥ם בַּנְּבִיאִֽם׃

2) 2 Sam. 22:38 "I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed.  39 "And I have devoured them and shattered them, so that they did not rise; And they fell under my feet.  40 "For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.  41 "You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me, And I destroyed those who hated me.  42 "They looked, but there was none to save; Even to the LORD, but He did not answer them. (= Psa. 18:41)

3) Mic. 3:4  Then they will cry out to the LORD, But He will not answer them. Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time Because they have practiced evil deeds.

 4 אָ֚ז יִזְעֲק֣וּ אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה וְלֹ֥א יַעֲנֶ֖ה אוֹתָ֑ם וְיַסְתֵּ֙ר פָּנָ֤יו מֵהֶם֙ בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֔יא כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר הֵרֵ֖עוּ מַעַלְלֵיהֶֽם׃  

  1. God will not answer when his people cry out for deliverance from their own irrevocable choices. E.g., Israel choosing a human king instead of God as King. 1 Sam. 8:18. Modern application: Choose to marry a person you know isn’t God’s will, and there’s no reason to believe God will answer the cry for deliverance from a wretched marriage.
  2. God may (will?) not answer the cry for guidance when people have refused to obey Him and refused to repent. E.g., Saul  1 Sam. 28:6.
  3. God will not answer the cry for physical deliverance of those who are His enemies or the enemies of His anointed.  2 Sam. 22
  4. God will not answer the cry for physical deliverance of those who love evil and hate good, and persist in practicing evil deeds. Micah 3:4; Cf. Isa. 1:12; 59:2

On the other hand, the grace-enabled and grace-inspired prayer of confession and repentance is on that God will always hear (1 John 1:9).


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