Be still and know…
Psalm 65: Silence is praise to you.
“Silence is praise to you.” What an interesting phrase to be found in the world’s most famous book of songs. Songs are about, well, sound: music and singing, instrumentals and key changes. Now I’m told that it doesn’t always take some meaningful praise song to have meaningful praise. David, that famous song writer and harp player, says that silence can be full of praise. One of his examples is found in nature. Not only does he see praise in the crashing of the waves but he also sees it when those things “come to a stop.” Also, he hears songs of praise in the stillness of the dawn or as dusk settles on the land. Silence is a missing element in most of our lives. I tend to treat silence as a small child treats darkness. In other words, I want a “night light” of sound; maybe the radio playing in the background. My prayers are filled with the sound of my own voice and when I run out of things to say I think that means my prayer is finished. David reminds me that silence is a perfectly acceptable form of praise. Learning to worship in silence is a powerful lesson to learn. It’s an element almost completely absent from our public and even personal worship experiences.
Take Away: Those who learn to worship in silence have learned a powerful lesson of worship.
Habakkuk 2: God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone – a holy silence. Listen!
Chapter two is mostly a listing of the sins of Babylon. The Lord may intend to use this godless nation in his dealings with Judah but that doesn’t mean its despicable evil will be overlooked. As a series of “Who do you think you are?” judgments is being listed, the prophet suddenly has a vision of God. Immediately, the prophet calls for “holy silence.” This isn’t the time to preach sermons of condemnation. The only thing a human being can do at this point is to bow in silence before the Lord. This, I think is God’s second answer to Habakkuk. The prophet has asked how a holy God can use a sinful nation to punish Judah. One answer is that God is well aware of the sin of Babylon and that he will decisively deal with it. The other answer is heard as the Almighty reveals himself to Habakkuk. This is similar to what happens in the Book of Job. Job has asked for an audience with God that he might plead his case. However, when God appears, Job is speechless and all he can do is bow in worship and adoration. When I see God my questions are answered. My need is not for the Lord to explain to me everything I think I want to know. The need in my life is a fresh vision of God.
Take Away: All our questions are answered when we genuinely experience the Lord.
The fine art of silence
Lamentations 3: Enter the silence.
Jeremiah advises: “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.” I don’t know much about silence. My life is filled with noise: music on the radio, something on the TV, conversation. Even when I pray, I refer to my prayer list. After all I have much to say to the Lord. I’d say my list is a pretty good one, with not only requests, but plenty of praises as well. Still, though, Jeremiah says that there’s a time for silence. The thing is that when I try to be silent before God my mind races off in a dozen directions at once. The prophet specifically says silence is good for times when life is hard and recommends our getting away from it all, not to talk to God but to experience silence before him. Many years before Jeremiah David described the “quiet waters” experience. He said it was there that the Lord restored his soul. I need to work on “entering the silence.” Maybe I need to pass through the “Lord, here’s my list” and the “when I finish here I need to do this” stages so I can arrive at the “enter the silence” stage. There’s a spiritual depth that can only be found when I “enter the silence.”
Take Away: There’s spiritual depth in silence.