What is making you so noisy?
Hands up if you could do with a bucket load of peace right now? Me too .. let me tell you that I have both hands up!
In the Bible, the idea of peace is “shalom”. Beautifully, one of the first times we see this word is in Exodus 21-22 when the Hebrew people were released from slavery in Egypt. In those two chapters, it’s used 14 times, and it’s all about making something good or returning something back to its owner or, better yet, in the word “restore”. When we read the word else (Genesis 43:27-28 for example) the word means to restore wellness
“Then he asked them about their well-being, and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” And they answered, “Your servant our father is in good health; he is still alive.” (NKJV Gen 43:27-28)
In Hebrew, the word translated as “well-being”, “well”, and “in good health” is all one word – Shalom. And so the idea of “peace” in the Bible is not just about practical restoration of things that were lost or stolen but a sense of fulness and completeness in mind, body and spirit. Theologically, Paul picks this up in Romans to speak of the peace that we have with God because of the gospel.
What I’ve been meditating on this week is a short Psalm about peace. Psalm 131 invites us to listen in on a conversation between David and God – a kind of holy eavesdropping. We get to have intimate access to the inner life of someone who has learned Shalom, and then remarkably he invites us to come along. Psalm 131 is a tutorial for how to become peaceful inside. Let’s listen in:
my heart is not proud,
and my eyes are not haughty,
and I do not go after things too great
and too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child on his mother, like a weaned child, my soul rests on me.
Israel, hope in the LORD now and forever.
Some initial notes about this Psalm:
- This is about David but it is also about Jesus. God who became Man is thinking out loud for us.
- The psalmist is speaking to God (v1-2) then leads us by the hand and speaks to us (v3)
- This is about learning peace, a peace that is learned in a relationship.
I’ll write more about this Psalm in future posts but the thing that strikes me straight away in the first verse is that faith delivers us from a proud self-will. David has tremendous calm. He has practised and is now showing shalom. Listen to what he says:
“my heart is not proud …. I am NOT superior. I am NOT opinionated. I am NOT attempting the impossible”
Somehow, he has consciously distanced himself from everything that rattles inside of him. He has settled his heart to the degree that it is no longer noisy.
Are you quiet inside? Is Psalm 131 your experience, too? It’s not often mine, if I’m honest. So, next question … what is the “noise” going on inside you? Where does it come from?
What makes our minds so noisy?
To diagnose the heart of a Psalm I find it helpful to write out an Anti-Psalm. This turns the Psalm to the opposite and using some synonyms to personal application it soon becomes evident why shalom often escapes us:
Self, I’m absorbed in you
I look down on other people
and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.
the result? I’m noisy
and restless inside
like a hungry child fussing around mothers feet
I’m noisy and restless with my demands and heaviness of heart.
I scatter seeds of hope onto dry ground all the time.
So here it is. The problem: pride. Pride takes the things of life and makes them noisy. the trouble we have is that we try and quieten the noise when actually we need God to help us with our pride.