Friday, February 18, 2011
Today’s Topic: Silence
Today’s Text: Isaiah 36:21 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”
Silence is scary – especially for someone as impulsively vocal as I am. But according to an old saying Silence is Golden. The whole saying goes like this – Speech is silvern, but silence is golden. In the Bible, the wisdom of King Solomon said that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. I have the speaking part down real well. It doesn’t turn out well many times, but I certainly speak a lot. It’s the silence part that needs a lot of work.
King Hezekiah’s representatives were being verbally bashed by the commander of the Assyrian army. They were being told that they had no hope of surviving unless they surrendered. But after the audible assault was over, they remained silent. They were under orders to do so. They obeyed. Hezekiah wanted information. He didn’t want debate. This was a battle that would be won by the Lord’s power not by man’s reason. That’s the lesson I need to learn and apply more frequently in my own life.
There are numerous passages about silence in the Bible. I have narrowed them down to the three areas that I believe, at least for me, are the ones that need the most work.
- When verbally attacked, follow the example of Jesus
- Matthew 26:59-63 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent.
- Isaiah 53:7 He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
- When angry at someone, think a long time before you speak
- Psalm 4:4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
- Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.
- When questioning authority, remember who is really in control and trust Him
1 Peter 3:13-15 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
The Bible also has much direction concerning speaking. As I read through the passages on praising God and giving thanks and using our words to build others up instead of tearing them down, I discovered one thing that is the foundation to all good speech. It is the time when we must speak. It just so happens it is the one time we prefer to be silent. It is when we know we have sinned.
We like to cover our sin. We don’t want to open up and be honest about what we have done. We may speak when we have sinned, but it is usually if not always to defend ourselves or to pass the blame for it onto someone else. Whether we know it or not, this is what is causing the bitterness that permeates every area of our lives and makes us unpleasant to be around. Look at what the Bible says about this important speech impediment from which most of us suffer.
- Psalm 51:1-5 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
- Psalm 30:10-12 Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
The church of Jesus Christ would be a whole lot better place if we would learn to speak when we should and be silent at all other times. I know I’m going to work on that, and by God’s grace, the Holy Spirit will teach me to control my tongue.