One of the reasons that Hebrew is such an interesting language is that some of the older words are loaded with meaning. Take shalom, for instance. Most people probably know this translated as peace, and it does mean that – and so much more.
I usually end my posts with “Shalom, Dottie.” In Israel, the word is used as a greeting or as a goodbye, sort of like aloha is used in Hawaii. I use it as an abbreviated blessing, “peace be unto you,” or “may peace be yours.” I’m not hip enough to use “Peace out.”
The Apostle Paul used it in many of his epistles. (See Romans 1:7, 15:33; I Corinthians 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2, 6:23; etc.) Most of the time, he coupled the traditional Jewish “peace” with the traditional Greek “grace,” since he wrote to congregations that included both.
Let’s look a little deeper into the meaning of SHaLoM. That’s three Hebrew consonants: shin, lamed, mem. The word carries an implication of wholeness and completeness. It’s both internal and external.
Peace, safety, welfare, well-being, health, prosperity, satisfaction, justice, favor, payment in full.
Someone has described it as “nothing missing, nothing broken”. Wouldn’t that be great?
In my good, but less-than-perfect life I always have a long to-do list of things to fix, things to get, and things to finish. In this life, we’ll never be done with those things that create conditions of anxiety or discord. There are always obligations to fulfill. We try.
In ancient times the good King didn’t rest until all enemies were defeated, both internal and external. When peace had been established, his people could go about their lives in safety. Only then could they work for the well-being of their family to enjoy the benefits of their lives, and have the freedom to rest in security.
There are similar implications for believers. The “now and not yet” nature of the Kingdom of God means we get a down payment on His shalom now, but payment in full is coming later. We even put “rest in peace” on tombstones to remind ourselves of it.
True shalom is rooted in our relationship to God Himself. He is our peace as evidenced in one of His names/titles, “Yahweh-Shalom.” The fruit of the Holy Spirit includes peace. The Messiah, Yeshua/Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and Paul reiterates that He is our peace. Through Him all enemies are defeated, both internal and external.
Jesus said. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27 (ESV)
There is more, but it would take a whole Bible study to explore it. Maybe I’ll do that for you one day.