The Music of Silence
June 23, 2016 • By Ed Wrather
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah – Psalm 46:10-11 NKJV.
In 1952, John Cage composed “4’33”. If you had the sheet music, or musical score for this “music” it would consist entirely of rests. There was no music, only silence. Cage defended his non-music by saying that he wanted to focus on the space between the notes i.e. silence. There is an actual YouTube video with soloist John Marx performing “4’33”. The soloist sits at the grand piano, adjusts the music, and then closes the keylid, or keyboard cover. The silence is deafening! I do like a quote of John Cage as he says, “Everything you do is music.”
Have you noticed how hard it is to escape noise? I can remember when I was a boy living on a farm there was no way at times to escape the silence. When I left my career as a parole officer to become a pastor of a small rural church, one of the hardest things to adjust to was the silence. Going from having a very busy life with constant interactions with others to only having a few opportunities each day to visit with people was a shock. I learned to adjust, listening more for God’s small still voice. I talked with God for hours and hours. Instead of doing things, effecting change in the physical world, by physical means; my focus was changed to effecting change, moving mountains by spiritual means.
Psalm 46 begins in this way, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah (Psalm 46:1-3 NKJV).” A continuing problem for the Israelites was making allies with pagan nations and relying on military strength for their security. The Psalmist urges his listeners to “be still” and consider “God.” “Be still” and remember the awesome works of the One true God who alone is worthy to be praised. God, the Psalmist says is where you will find your help in trouble, God is the one who will give you the refuge you seek.
When you are still before God, when you seek Him in silence, it may not sound like anything to you. However, to God your stillness before Him is a beautiful piece of music which you are performing in His presence. Be still!