The simplicity of stopping to breathe and listen is a practice rarely taught in Western Christianity. A weekend at the retreat center and sporadic days of solitude organized by a church may invite one to experience a half day, whole day or maybe two days (if you’re really the “disciplined” type) of quietness and rest. Somehow we are under the impression that a few days out of the year fulfill our soul’s need for motionlessness. Whether you are a steward of stillness one a day a year or one day a week, an everyday weaving of the thread of silence is of undeniable value in the life of a child of God.
In the 62nd Psalm of David, there are two mentions of the word silence. The first is used in the opening verse:
“My soul waits in silence for Elohim only; from Him is my salvation”.
If you look closely, David speaks to and instructs his soul quite often throughout his songs. A stern directive is given to himself, from himself. One could suggest that God brought David to this place sovereignly and that somehow David was looking at himself from an outside perspective, commentating the changes occurring within him. If this was the case, David would not be guiding himself by phrases like, “Do not be cast down, oh my soul”, “Have hope in God, oh my soul”. These encouragements certainly come from the inspiration of the Ruach (Spirit), but it is David himself, by intentional repositioning that leads his own thoughts to a place of stability and quietness.
This word, translated as “waits in silence” is דּוּמִיָּה, and means waiting in silent expectation, resting quietly or confidently waiting. The start of David’s meditative song, though he was likely singing and playing an instrument, is a call to silent anticipation. Is it possible that silence of the soul is distinctively different than merely silence of the mouth? Are not racing thoughts and inner chaos much more difficult to tame than a momentary act of speaking?
The second usage is found in the 5th verse:
“My soul, wait in silence for Elohim only, for my hope is from Him”.
This second word is דָּמָם and means to be struck dumb, be caused silence or kept still. This appears to be a less voluntary silence, a response produced in the presence of something awe-some or great. Notice also that this “soul silence” is immediately following a selah, or pause, in verse four.
This progression of silence to pause to silence is a principle. Do not let Him pass you by because of your preoccupation and compulsive motions. Let fear leave and instead, be loved.
Breathe in intentionally and enter into anticipation of the salvation of your Father and Lord.
Listen and let your soul swell with the voice of Love.
Breathe out in wonder of the perfect Prince of Peace who calms your sea.
*For the curious, examine what David thinks about prior to the selah and how he arrives at the pause of peace.