Shalom, the Peace that Passes Understanding


The Hebrew word shalom is understood around the world to mean peace.  However, peace is only one small part of the meaning.  Shalom is used both to greet people and to bid them farewell, and it means much more than peace, hello or goodbye.  Hebrew words go beyond their spoken pronunciation.  Each Hebrew word conveys feeling, intent, and emotion.  Shalom is more than just simply peace; it is a complete peace.  It is a feeling of contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being, and harmony.

This beautiful word shalom is a mighty blessing on several levels!  Whenever you employ the word shalom you are speaking into someone’s life all the wonderful things that shalom means!  Many of us close a service with the Aaronic Blessing as found in Numbers 6:24-26, The LORD bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  The LORD lift up His face upon you and give you SHALOM.  In the name of Yeshua haMashiyach SAR SHALOM – the Prince of Peace.

Did you know the context of the Aaronic Blessing is ironic?  God told Aaron to bless Israel with peace while they were getting ready to go conquer the Promised Land.  If peace means “the absence of war,” then this doesn’t make sense, Soon they would be destroying cities.  The Aaronic Blessing is referring to an inner peace and completeness brought on by sharing in His countenance and His protection.  That was the blessing that Israel needed!  Israel was to rarely experience times of outward peace, but even in the midst of battle, they were to have an inward rest brought on by the presence of the Lord, regardless of the outward circumstances.  So it should be for us as well.

My natural tendency is that of a fighter, so the fact that this blessing was spoken over warriors preparing for battle stirred my heart.  In Scottish, the meaning of the name Brenda is sword or torch.  Combined it translates “Firebrand”.  I love to quote Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as speaking of me, “Oh, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd!  She was a vixen when she went to school.  And though she be but little, she is fierce.”  The first statement was true of me as a youth in school.  The Disney princess I identify with best is Merida from Brave.  Good thing God had plans to tame this shrew.  As a young adult and new Christian, I fought as hard for the truth as I did for myself, but now I have mellowed with age and He has tempered my flame to warm usable coals with His Shalom.

But what does that mean?  According to Strong’s Concordance (7965), shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, and the absence of agitation or discord.  Shalom comes from the root verb shalom meaning to be complete, perfect and full.  In modern Hebrew, the related word Shelem means to pay for, and Shulam means to be fully paid.  Yeshua is called Sar shalom, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

What battles are we fighting, or about to fight?  Is it the influence of Worldviews counter to our Biblical Worldview?  Is it agitation or discord within our community or church?  Is it a lack of harmony in our homes, or the need for rest within us?  We are all fighting something and we need to bless each other with Shalom, the peace that passes all understanding.  It was paid for by the Prince of Peace.  The battle is the Lord’s, Shelah!

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