Most people misunderstand silence. Some consider it as a sign of weakness. We know the silence of Christ before Pilate and Herod. They were even astonished that He gave no reply to the allegations. Matthew. 27:12 – 14. We see a similar incident here in Isaiah chapter 36. People of Judah kept quite at the threatening words of the enemy. It was not easy because the arguments of the Assyrian chief were so aggressive and persuasive. But King Hezekiah had commanded the people not to answer at all.
A time to speak
Certainly, there is a time to answer. Cf. Ecc. 3:7. Apostle Peter writes, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 1 Pet 3:15 KJV. Also we have the challenging words of Mordecai, “If you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.” Esther 4:14. So, definitely there is a place for breaking our silence. In such a scenario our silence may be a failure or even a crime as Marin Luther King observed.
A time to keep silent
However we should not consider silence as weakness. There is value for silence also in the scripture. Peter, who exhorts us to answer, writes about the Lord Jesus Christ, “When He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously”. 1Peter 2:23.
In Isaiah chapter 42, prophet writes about the earthly life of the Servant of the Lord; “Who is blind as My servant, or deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is blind as he who is perfect, and blind as the LORD’S servant? Seeing many things, but you do not observe..” Isaiah 42:19, 20.
That is what exactly happened in the ministry of Christ on earth. He did not respond to all what was going on around Him. He never entered into an argument. He did not fight for His rights, even when He was wrongly accused and attacked. He declined to take any credit for His works and strictly warned against publicizing His name. Matt. 12:16. In fact, it is in this context Mathew applies the words of Isaiah for Christ. “He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. “ Matthew 12:19 cf. Isaiah 42: 2.
As Christians, we ought to follow such an attitude. We are not supposed to respond to any body on everything. Particularly in the face of allegations and criticism, it’s ideal to keep quite. Of course it is wise to examine our life and make corrections if needed any. However we don’t need to defend and try to justify ourselves. As many others consider, we do not need to raise our voice for everything.
Yes, to live such a life, we need much patience and humility, which we can experience only by the grace and help of our Lord. As Isaiah refers in another servant song, we need to be submissive to the Lord and learn from Him constantly ‘to know how to speak a word in season’. Isaiah 50:4, 5.
Silence is not bad. Let us not condemn those who keep quite. Appreciate those who have chosen the path of their Lord and do not make a noise or do not advertise themselves. Let us not judge simply because of some one’s silence.
Do not just assume that only those who make noise are clever, correct and energetic. Commitment to the Lord and His word prompts them to follow the path their Lord. They will not cry nor raise their voice. Isaiah 42:2a. Let us enjoy silence. There is strength and blessings in divinely inspired silence. Isaiah 30:15
There is a story about Adam and Eve when they were giving the names to animals. Eve looked at one big lumbering animal and said, “Let’s call that one a hippopotamus”. “Why?” asked Adam. Eve replied, “Because it looks like a hippopotamus.” Many words do have a psychological fitness in sound for the thing they describe.
Words are condensed history. Almost every word we use has come down to us with the brains of a hundred generations distilled into it and loaded with emotional meaning. A word can excite you or depress you. A word can make you sad or glad or mad. A page of words can destroy hope; blast a reputation, set men marching out to murder or to crusade for truth. Words are the most powerful things on earth.