The Uses of Silence

Psalm 13: 1-2: 13 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

I don’t know how much you care for silence. I relish it, so I can spend hours with my computer or a cat or a book not saying a word and not missing the world of sound at all. This might be because I have extra sensitive hearing which stood me in good stead when I was teaching. A miscreant sitting in the back of the class might mumble some evil comment and then would be surprised to have earned himself a trip to the office to discuss his word choice with the principal.

My point is, I suppose, that silence has its uses. During the time of Covin, as I’ve said, I’ve spent hours in silence every day. But that’s not the only use of silence. Silence gestures can communicate a great deal. Pre-Covin when we would be at a social gathering and had be there for a while, all it takes is a look from Becky that seems to say, “It’s time to leave. I have to practice my prelude.” There are thousands of displays like this, including the rolled eyes of a teenager or the wrinkled face of someone who smells something bad. I’m sure you can think of other examples.

God also uses silences such as we heard in the passage from the Psalm. Jesus is in the silences of the touch for the leper, for the woman and for those who touched his robe. Then there are the silent healings with the centurion’s daughter, the woman possessed by demons and the ten lepers.

These examples stand as lessons for us. We do not need to speak to comfort or to encourage or to bring the past to mind. When we do these things, we are obeying the commandments of God. And they’re quite often found in the silences.


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