“O that you would be completely silent, And that it would become your wisdom! Please hear my argument And listen to the contentions of my lips. …Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes, Your defenses are defenses of clay (fleshly thought and comprehension).” – Job 13:5-6, 12
The wisdom of silence. Oh how difficult it is to learn: especially when we want so badly to help and to impact for good. I do believe this my greatest weakness. Knowing when to speak and when to just be silent with others is a challenge. (Resist that comment, please. 😂)
In the story of Job, we see two instances where silence is truly golden. One God has been working to grow me in for years! It is knowing when to stop speaking God’s truth to those who refuse to hear. It is extremely sad when God says, “Stop casting your pearls before swine.” When that happens, it is vital to practice the wisdom of silence and leave the wayward heart to God.
Job is very put out by his friends, who are judging his situation with eyes and hearts of clay. His ears are shut off to everything they are saying because he knows their judgment is wrong. And their ears are closed to him because they believe their understanding of the situation must be correct. Job’s words to them are pearls under their feet. Their words to him are proverbs of ash.
When we are speaking needed truth to someone who refuses it, God is the one they reject, and it is He, alone, who can deal with them. Stop casting the pearls of God’s truth and wisdom out for them to trample under foot. Turn, instead, to speaking to God for His mercy and grace to open their spiritual eyes and ears to receive Him-His truth.
Job keeps turning to God, pleading over his situation, knowing he’s done nothing to deserve his plight, and unable to understand it’s cause, but he fails to pray for his friends with understanding of their position.
“Be silent before me so that I may speak; Then let come on me what may. Why should I take my flesh in my teeth And put my life in my hands? Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, For a godless man may not come before His presence. Listen carefully to my speech, And let my declaration fill your ears.” – Job 13:13-17
Too often we strive to make the other person understand instead of praying to Him who gives understanding.
The second situation in Job’s story where we see the need of wise silence is when our flesh-eyes are insufficient to see and know the whole story. We so want to help the hurting heart in seasons of extreme grief and turmoil, that the proverbial truths of God become ashes – burned up, insignificant truths to the hearer. Until there is greater understanding and the hurting heart is ready to hear, it is better to be silent, lest harsh, unrighteous judgment falls to us, as it did to Job and his friends. Job’s friends judged him guilty because of false understanding of God’s truths applied to him, and Job judged God with unrighteous harshness because of lack of understanding the purpose of God.
As I’ve shared before, God is always dealing with me before He has me share with you. This is an area He constantly works on with me. When I read Job, I’m always struck by the friends reactions to Job’s pain in chapter 2:
“Then they sat down on the ground with him for SEVEN DAYS AND seven nights WITH NO ONE SPEAKING A WORD to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.” – Job 2:13
To slow down and just be with someone in their extreme grief, saying nothing, only listening. To practice the wisdom of silence and wait for God. It is a vital wisdom to develop. I’m working at it. These harsh, hard, and pressing days, when there is much grief and pain in the world, and when so many have hearts closed off to God and His truth, I find myself on constant training ground.
It was not until the end of Job’s journey of trial that he prayed for his friends, and then only at God’s instruction. With that I pray:
Father, bless me and those with me to have wisdom to understand and comprehend from Your viewpoint. May we have wisdom to know when and how to speak, and when to practice the wisdom of silence. May we have ears to hear clearly and discernment to understand fully. Let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, useful to You for building up and not tearing down O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. In Jesus, make it so. Amen
Declaration: By Your grace, O God, “My mouth will speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart will be understanding.” – Psalms 49:3