Saturday, February 03, 2007

Shalom [שָׁלוֹם] Peace

For devotionals I’m currently reading Ephesians. In William Barclay’s commentary he had a good description of the word Shalom. I thought I’d share...
“[Regarding Ephesians 1:2's use of “Peace”] In Greek the word is eirene, but it translates the Hebrew word shalom. In the Bible the word peace is never a purely negative word; it never describes simply the absence of trouble and hardship and distress. Shalom means everything that makes for a man’s highest good, everything which is calculated to make him a man in the highest sense of the term, everything which is calculated to make life truly worth living. This Christian peace is something which is quite independent of outward circumstances. A man might live in ease and luxury and on the fat of the land; he might have the finest of houses and the biggest of bank accounts, and yet not have peace; on the other hand, a man might be starving in prison, or dying at the stake, or living a life from which all comfort had fled, and be at perfect peace. What is the explanation of it? The explanation is that there is only one source of peace in all the world, and that is doing the will of God. We know perfectly well that when in life we are doing something which we know we ought not to do, or when we are evading something that we know we ought to do, there is always a haunting uneasiness and dispeace at the back of our minds; and we know quite well that even if we are doing something very difficult, even if we are doing something which we do not want to do, if we know that it is the right thing there is a certain contentment in our hearts. 'In His will is our peace.' The only peace on earth is in the will of God.”

[Barclay, William The Daily Study Bible: The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians The Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1958 Pp. 87-88]

It’s interesting that every time I hear the word “peace” I think of it in the inactive/negative sense. That is, the absence of fighting, war, violence…etc. The active/positive aspect that Barclay discusses here is almost never thought of today [that I know of…if it is please give a reference…I’d be curious to read it]. Maybe next time we say or think of peace we will think of the active/positive aspect of it, and not just the inactive/negative aspect of it. Hopefully meditating and thinking of the positive aspect of peace will draw us to worship God not ourselves and our materialistic idols. Just something to think on.

In Christ

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