“Speech is Silver; Silence is Golden.” Thomas Carlyle
How often have you heard yourself saying, “Be quiet!” If you are a parent, schoolteacher or librarian, you probably recite this phrase often. Yet, how many of us really know how to be quiet? In our society the saying, “Silence is Golden,” seems to have lost its luster. It is difficult for us to be silent because we are surrounded by constant noise. Our culture craves audible stimulation. For most of us, noise is no longer a nuisance. We enjoy our noises. Throughout the day, we fill our minds with all sorts of background noises. We wake up to the radio, turn on the TV, listen to the news or music as we travel and even when we arrive at our destinations. We exercise to music and hear the music playing while we shop. There seems to be no planned time in our day for silence or meditation. We rarely reserve quiet time to think!
Yet as quiet as it is kept, silence and meditation are critical. These disciplines allow us to put our lives in perspective. Benedictine monk Daniel Heisey states,
“There is a stressful silence, such as students experience when taking an exam; there is also an appreciative silence, such as one encounters among people in a museum. Also, there is a reverential silence, such as at a much visited cemetery or national monument. In each case, silence results from and signifies people recognizing that they are in the presence of something greater than themselves.”
Bodgan Scur, religion professor at Washington Adventist University, talks about the virtues of meditation. He states, “Meditation is saturating your mind with the Word of God. When it permeates your mind, it spills over into action, and we start reasoning and making decisions the way the Bible teaches.”
King David understood that silence signifies the recognition of being in the presence of something greater than himself, and meditation allows us to focus on the Word of God. Despite being a musician, David, more than any other Bible writer, used silence and meditation as a form of praise.
The Third Form of Praise is Silence & Meditation
The Hebrew word “Selah” is most frequently used in the Psalms. Selah is a musical notation that means “To pause and think calmly on what has just been expressed.” The art of meditation is found in Psalms 77:12, “I will also meditate on all Your works, and talk of Your deeds.” Silence in worship is powerful. It gives the worshiper time to absorb, digest, and contemplate what was just heard. These practices are essential spiritual disciplines. Just like a musical rest enhances the beauty of a song, silence and meditation placed purposefully in our worship services enhances our ability to contemplate the awesomeness of God. Silence and meditation in worship is a golden treasure that must not be wasted.