“LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.” Psalm 131

The practice of silence before God is to be cultivated by every Christian. The discipline of quieting the heart takes practice and silence is not the natural state of fallen man. Jeremiah 57:20–21 explains, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’” What our Lord proposes for our hearts is much like His rebuke of the wind and waves, “Peace, be still (be silent, be muzzled)” as Mark 4:35–41 records. The wind ceased and there was a great calm.

Why must believers practice to be quiet before God? Surely, you have heard the stories of men keeping their mouths shut when in the presence of revered men. Stories are told of the soldiers of Stonewall Jackson or of General Lee, instead of giving a great cheer, keeping silence when he came among them. Silence is expected, if not demanded, before human judges, before great men, or even before teachers. The silence accorded to pastors when preaching is out of courtesy for him and out of reverence for the Word of God. When was the last time you quieted your spirit before you subjected yourself to the preaching of the Word, or in prayer, or in worship? Does not God deserve this act of reverence more than men?

Scripture often speaks of the discipline of silence. Revelation 8:1 predicts that in the midst of terrible and momentous events intensifying on earth there will be silence in heaven for about half an hour. Even in the working of God’s final plan for this earth there is time for silence. Psalm 76:8, Zephaniah 1:7 and Zechariah 2:13 are Old Testament illustrations of the significance of silence. Notice the similarities found in the context of Habakkuk 2:20, “But the LORD is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.” One gets the idea that in the Great White Throne Judgment, when the books of records are opened and the unregenerate hear the divine verdict enunciated concerning them, they will depart in stunned, yet acquiescing, silence. It is, after all, that at “the name of Jesus every knee should bow…and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10f)

It is much better to learn the discipline of quiet silence before your God today! Quiet, unruffled confidence in God is the mark of being in the presence of the Father as Psalm 46:10f states, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah (stop, pause, weigh, think about that).” Psalm 4:3ff teaches, “But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the LORD will hear when I call upon Him. Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still. Offer the sacrifices or righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.” I suspect this is the Old Testament explanation of the meaning of Peter’s instruction for godly women in 1 Peter 3:3f, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

David’s 131st Psalm expresses the germ of the idea of the discipline of silence for the Christian. In the first verse David teaches that silence before God produces satisfaction in the Lord that displaces pride. From all the previous texts we observe that authentic humility in the presence of Majesty will always produce silence. This is why godliness may be defined as standing in awe in the presence of God.

In the second verse David illustrates what the discipline of silence is like. He equates it to the calmness of a weaned child. Little children display their immaturity by their impatience and easy distraction by noisy and sparkly things. For the weaned, maturing child, all he has ever known that brings comfort, satisfaction, joy, rest, warmth, solution, and attention has been replaced with something that satisfies far longer and is certainly more fitting for his maturing need. At the end of the verse David explains that his very soul has been weaned from all earthly satisfactions and comfort to the real satisfaction found only in God Himself. He has learned to practice the discipline of silence before God. I wonder if what he speaks here does not give insight into his behavior at the occasion of the loss of his infant son (2 Samuel 12:15–23).

In the final verse David tells us that the practice of silent hope in the Lord is practical for today and will be a practice for eternity! Carefully read Lamentations 3:21–27 and then study the whole chapter. Do not pass through the days of your Christian pilgrimage constantly nursed in your immaturity and captivated by noise. Learn the discipline of silence before your Maker. The next time you prepare to hear the Word of God preached and His name lifted on high take time to come before Him in silence and wait upon Him. Trust and obey.