“The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.” Job 29:10
Here is another common figure of speech taken from our trusty old King James Bible. To hold your peace means, of course, to remain silent. This verse in Job and its preceding one indicate that it involves a tug-of-war between the mind and the mouth. “The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth” (v. 9). But why does God use the expression “hold your peace” etc., instead of saying, “hold your tongue”? Perhaps because, in many cases, when we find ourselves conflicted over whether we should or should not speak, what we finally end up allowing to escape from our mouths is not just our words, it’s also our peace.
When Abraham sent his servant back to his homeland to find a bride for his son, Isaac, the wise man asked God to give him a sign so he would know when he had found the right young lady. When he saw a girl who met the criteria, you would think he would have jumped to the conclusion immediately that she was the one and tell her so. But we read in Genesis 24:21, “And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.” God’s will was too important to his master, Abraham, and to him, to commit himself before he had full confirmation from God. This wise man was wise enough to hold his peace. Am I?
Aaron was wise enough to hold his peace before God’s appointed authority in his life: “Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” Once again, am I?
But lets go a Pauline Epistle for another example of how this truth should be played out in our lives. In the early Corinthian church, there was much confusion in their services, and Paul, hoping to bring some order, gave basic instructions in chapter fourteen of his first letter to them. For instance, if more than one man is prophesying, make sure its done one at a time. Then he says in verse thirty: “If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.” This reminds me of those of us plagued with the penchant for “one-up-man-ship.” When someone is sharing something God has shown him or her, or relating a wonderful, or not so wonderful, experience, we’re seemingly compelled to insert our own insights and experiences. Why? Especially when it diminishes their uniqueness and elevates our own superiority. I blush to think of how often I’ve been guilty of this petty play for recognition. Not only is it unnecessary, it’s un-Christ like.
There was one Person who never spoke one unnecessary, unkind, unhelpful, ungracious, ulterior word in His entire earthly life, yet it says of Him, “…he held his peace, and answered nothing” (Mark 14:61). Oh, that I might follow in His footsteps!
Actually, I think the term, “hold your peace,” is a perfect admonition for this kind of thing. So many times, when you hold onto your words, you hold onto your peace.
Lost peace, in the form of regret and self-disappointment, is a high price to pay for the sake of feeling relevant and important.