A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
Subject-Verse Index
According to the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, Silence can be defined as forbearance from speech or noise. This silence is voluntary, intentional, and temporary in our pursuit of God. Solitude is defined as the quality or state of being alone or remote from society, and again, voluntary, intentionally, and temporary. This silence and solitude are thought of as spiritual discipline and exercise with the purpose of advancing our relationship with God. The scriptures teach that the necessity for silence and solitude can be found in the old testament and the new testament, and was expecially a constant theme is the life of Jesus and His disciples. Some of the reasons for the exercise of silence and solitude are listed below.
In The Old Testament, the following verses reflect the spiritual discipline of solitude and silence:
"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still [Hebrew, demamah, quiet, calm, silence, stillness] small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12).
And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace [Hebrew, chashah, to hush, keep quite, keep silence, be silent, be still] (2 Kings 2:3-5).
The psalmist, David, instructs us, Rest [cease, quiet self, be silent, stand still, wait] in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass (Psalms 37:7).
David adds, Truly my soul waiteth [stillness, silence, silent, trust, waiteth] upon God: from him cometh my salvation (Psalms 62:1).
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth [holds back] his lips [language, speech, talk, vain words] is wise (Proverbs 10:19).
Solomon teaches us that God has times for us to be silent and have solitude: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and later explains, A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7), as well as, Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:2).
In The New Testament, the following verses reflect the spiritual discipline of solitude and silence:
Just prior to his temptations from the devil, and the beginning of his worldly ministries, Jesus spent 40 days alone in the desert in silence and solitude communing with His Father in heaven: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness [Greek eremos, lonesome, wasteland, desolate, solitary] to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him (Matthew 4:1-11).
The night before Jesus chose His twelve apostle, he spent the entire night in quietness, solitude and prayer unto His Father in heaven. Scriptures tell us, And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles (Luke 6:12-13).
Upon hearing of the sad news of the beheading and death of John the Baptist, Jesus immediately went to a deserted place for quiet and solitude: And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert [desolate, solitary, lonesome] place apart [alone, aside, own business, pertaining to self only, private, severally]: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities (Matthew 14:10-13).
Jesus not only followed His ministering with silence, solitude, and prayer, but sought out a solitary place to pray before His ministered next. Scriptures instruct us, he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils (Mark 1:34-39).
After His disciples had ministered and returned, Jesus, Himself, instructed them to depart for a place of solitude and rest: And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. Andthey departed into a desert [desolate, silitary, lonesome, waste area] place by ship privately (Mark 6:30-32).
Following His healing of a leper, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness for quiet, solitude, and prayer to His heavenly Father. Scriptures tell us,And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew [vacate down, retire, go aside, withdraw self] himself into the wilderness [desolate, solitary, lonesome area], and prayed (Luke 5:12-16).
In preparation for His transfiguration, Jesus, along with three of His disciples, went apart to a high mountain: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead (Matthew 17:1-9).
Just prior to His suffering, crucifixion, and death, Jesus sought silence, solitude, and separation from His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. We read, Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me. And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people (Matthew 26:36-47).
From a biblical and spiritual perspective, silence and solitude can be performed for the following reasons:
To follow the example of Jesus (Luke 4:1-14, Matt 14:23, Luke 4:42).
To better hear and understand the voice and will of God (1 Kings 19:11-13, Galatians 1:17).
To express our worship to God (Hab 2:20, Zeph 1;7, Zech 2:13).
To express faith in God (Psalms 62:1-6, Isa 30:15).
To seek God's salvation (Lamentations 3:25-280.
To pursue physical or spiritual restoration (Mark 6:31).
To regain spiritual perspective (Luke 1:20).
To seek the will of God (Luke 6:12-13).
To learn and practice controlling our tongue (James 1:26, Prov 3:2, Prov 17:27-28).
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works
to the children of men!  And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and
declare his works with rejoicing.  They that go down to the sea in ships, that do
business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the
deep.  For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves
thereof.  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and
are at their wits' end.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth
them out of their distresses.  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof
are still.  Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their
desired haven.  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and
for his wonderful works to the children of men!  Let them exalt him also in the
congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders"
(Psalms 107:21-32).