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Silence in the Bible: 5 Biblical Reasons to be Silent

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Silence in the Bible and Today

In today’s world, everyone is trying to get their two cents in. With technology ever-evolving and access to platforms more accessible than ever, we’re seeing an increase in communication but a decline in how much time people spend taking things in. 

Recently, there was news about a new book that brings attention to this issue – examining how we’ve got caught up with writing more than reading despite our digital surroundings!

In today’s world, communications are anything but quiet- from emails and snaps to podcasts and hashtags – it’s a cacophony of sound.

woman kneeling by bed in silent prayer with the text Silence in the BIble: 5 biblical reasons to be silent

Silence in the Bible: Listening to God in the Silence

God’s love is a warm embrace of comfort and solace, an invitation to pause and listen for His presence which will bring you great joy. He has so much goodness in store that listening can lead to nothing but a refreshing, healing experience.

Stillness and quiet don’t always require running off into the woods. Even in bustling environments like offices, downtown streets, or even theaters, you can still find fleeting moments of peace if you take a moment to listen.

Despite the chaos of our lives, we have a chance to take a pause and be still. We can find moments amongst all the noise – if only for an instant – where we realize that peace lies within us despite what is happening around us, a reminder that God is always present in these shared times of silence.

Our spiritual sense allows us to connect with God no matter where we are or what we’re doing. All it takes is a bit of effort, and in moments as small as the blink of an eye, you can become aware of God’s presence around you.

God’s love is always with us, sending out signals of peace and joy. We just have to be still enough to receive these right divine ideas and connect with God, just as our forefathers have during their times of silence in the Bible.

Christ Jesus demonstrated the power of divine truth in his own life. Whether surrounded by large crowds or battling a fierce storm out on Lake Galilee, he could always turn to and experience God’s spiritual presence.

The form you have selected does not exist.

Mary Baker Eddy was a groundbreaking figure who made monumental discoveries in Christian Science. Through her writings, she strived to make spirituality more accessible for everyone, and her teachings still influence individuals worldwide today.  She wrote:

“In order to pray aright, we must enter into the closet and shut the door. We must close the lips and silence the material senses. In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God’s allness” 

Mary Baker Eddy (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 15).

Silence in the Bible, Examples

King Solomon had an incredible insight into the nature of our lives, insisting that God is always in control. He knew there was a time for everything, from speaking to staying silent, and he was wise enough to know when each should occur.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV) – bold, mine

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Proverbs and many other books of the Bible have a lot to share about silence in the Bible and life today.

Wise people don’t just choose their words carefully – they often decide when to talk and remain silent. Scripture teaches us that there is a time for every situation, even conversations: the fool may be chatty with no sense of timing, while wise souls know how silence can speak louder than words.

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight,
    and his mouth invites a beating.
A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
    and his lips are a snare to his soul.” 

Proverbs 18:6–7 (ESV)

And Proverbs 10:19 warns, 

When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 10:19 (ESV)

Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
    for it is an evil time.

Amos 5:13 (ESV)

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble,”

Proverbs 21:23 (ESV) 

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

Proverbs 17:28 (ESV)

When faced with difficult decisions, Jesus showed us that sometimes silence speaks louder than words. He elegantly stood before Pontius Pilate and made his presence known through nothing more than his silence.

Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Matthew 27:11–14 (ESV)

To His devoted disciples, Jesus declared:

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 12:36–37 (ESV) 

James had a simple lesson for the godly examples of his church: learn how to master your words. Without control, even one’s kindest intentions could be derailed by an ill-spoken phrase – something he knew all too well from experience. (James 3:1–12)

Paul emphasizes that our words should always be said with grace so that we can respond to everyone in the most appropriate way. Clearly, he wanted us to think before speaking and present ourselves as people of kindness.

While these verses may not directly address silence in the Bible, they illustrate that our words have power and that sometimes it is better to stay silent or use words to build each other up rather than tear down.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 4:6 (ESV)

Silence in the Bible: Grief and Mourning

Times of silence can be a powerful comfort in moments of grief and mourning, offering an understanding without the need for words. In these trying moments, simply being there to sit with someone can speak volumes.

Job’s three friends showed incredible support when faced with his tragedy; instead of words, they opted for silent companionship and spent a week simply being present for him. Their understanding that sometimes it is all we can do to offer our presence speaks volumes.

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. 

They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 

And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Job 2:11–13 (ESV)

Five Biblical Reasons to be Silent and Blessings Related to Silence in the Bible

In Scripture, God encourages us to be silent and promises incredible blessings when we are. For example, silence often allows us to become more aware of our spiritual journey and strengthen relationships with others.

1. Be Silent Out of Obedience 

Obeying requires the ability to listen, something many of us struggle with. Not just on a physical plane but also spiritually – it’s essential for growth and understanding.

Our words reveal our hearts; scripture tells us that there is a close connection between the two. What we choose to say says something about who we are at the core.

You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Matthew 12:34 (ESV)

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45 (ESV)

When we quiet our minds and still our hearts, that’s when we can be open to God’s voice – ready to listen and follow His instructions.

As if to leave no room for doubt, Moses provided a powerful capstone in his final speech: Israel must wholeheartedly embrace God’s commandments. (Deuteronomy 27:1-10 (ESV))

As God’s chosen people, the requirement comes from a place of liberation and pride in their identity; they are no longer enslaved but acknowledged as true heirs to His greatness.

But the Lord’s portion is his people,
    Jacob his allotted heritage.

Deuteronomy 32:9 (ESV)

Moses’ powerful words ended with an urgent plea, urging his audience to take action.

Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the Lord your God.

Deuteronomy 27:9 (ESV)

Obeying God’s laws creates a beautiful connection between us and the divine, an unspoken bond built through silent adoration for our King.

Disobedience is like a rebellion within, an inner battle when we don’t put into practice who God made us to be.

God’s rule is absolute – it encompasses the full scope of his creation, from his beloved followers to even demons. Naturally, therefore, all must adhere to His principles!

​​But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

Mark 1:25 (ESV)

But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.

Luke 4:35 (ESV)

​2. Be Silent for Self-Control

Obedience isn’t just a matter of being quiet – it also calls for self-control, one of the most valuable spiritual gifts we can possess.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

Obedience and self-control go hand-in-hand; one cannot exist without the other. Without having a certain level of control over oneself, faithfulness is not possible – something we all need to remember in difficult times.

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.

Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (ESV)

Scripture is full of wisdom, and one lesson to be learned from it is that ‘brevity’ can be a blessing—those who talk too much risk showing their lack of knowledge and wisdom.

The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor,
    but the lips of a fool consume him.
The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness,
    and the end of his talk is evil madness.
A fool multiplies words,
    though no man knows what is to be,
    and who can tell him what will be after him?

Ecclesiastes 10:12-14 (ESV)

The solution for those who act foolishly? The Bible provides a wise yet practical answer – the power of remaining silent.

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
    or if you have been devising evil,
    put your hand on your mouth.

Proverbs 30:32 (ESV)

Sometimes staying silent can be the best way to show care and compassion. It’s a form of servitude – an act of selfless love that speaks volumes without ever having to utter a word.

The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.

Genesis 24:21 (ESV)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

Your own silent reflections in the face of anger can be a powerful tool to help direct you toward making godly decisions.

Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah

Psalm 4:4 (ESV)

Even in the toughest of times, we can have faith that our strength and courage will carry us through; to never give up hope no matter what stands before us.

It is good that one should wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear
    the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone in silence
    when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust—
    there may yet be hope;

Lamentations 3:26-29 (ESV)

Our ability to analyze and reflect on spiritual guidance requires quiet contemplation, as demonstrated in the verses about silence in the Bible – for it’s only in stillness that we can truly understand what is being conveyed.

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent.

1 Corinthians 14:29-30 (ESV)

Successfully navigating the world and not being swayed by its temptations is a challenge, but it can bring great rewards.

I said, “I will guard my ways,
    that I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth with a muzzle,
    so long as the wicked are in my presence.”

Psalm 39:1 (ESV)

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue
    keeps himself out of trouble.

Proverbs 21:23 (ESV)
man standing against blue wall holding Bible (no face) for the post Five Biblical Reasons to be Silent and Blessings Related to Silence in the Bible

3. Be Silent in Wonder

When we seem to be most wordless, our worship of God is often the most potent. Scripture teases out this great paradox: the more silent we become, the louder His glory resounds in us.

Filled with reverence and humility, we honor God in our awe-filled silence. We are made to reflect his image – a unique privilege no other creature can claim.

Scripture is overflowing with moments of reverential silence, a show of amazement shared by all when we are reminded just how powerful and awe-inspiring God truly is.

In moments of quiet reflection, Christians can gain perspective on how their failings can hinder honoring God. 

Paul even goes so far as to suggest that such a profound recognition is often best expressed through silence – allowing us an opportunity for genuine remorse and repentance.

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Romans 3:19 (ESV)

When faced with the divine and all-powerful holiness of God, our response is one of solemn reverence. The thought of His coming judgment only reinforces this quiet humility – for who are we to stand in opposition?

Be silent before the Lord God!
    For the day of the Lord is near;
the Lord has prepared a sacrifice
    and consecrated his guests.

Zephaniah 1:7 (ESV)

The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
they shall lay their hands on their mouths;
    their ears shall be deaf;

Micah 7:16 (ESV) 

We should be awe-struck and moved to silence in the face of God’s miraculous redemption plan, making it possible for all his children to experience true freedom.

Listen to me in silence, O coastlands;
    let the peoples renew their strength;
let them approach, then let them speak;
    let us together draw near for judgment.

Isaiah 41:1 (ESV)

And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”

Luke 1:20 (ESV)

And the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Acts 11:18 (ESV)

And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

Acts 15:12 (ESV)

When we come together in corporate worship, silence is essential for cultivating an atmosphere of respect and appreciation for God. It’s like a collective pause to remember who has brought us here.

But the Lord is in his holy temple;
    let all the earth keep silence before him.”

Habbakuk 2:20 (ESV)

4. Be Silent in Rest 

When we experience the redemption of God’s grace, there can be a beautiful peace in our silence. Knowing and trusting that He is with us gives us strength to stay still – letting Him steer the direction and unfold His story for each one of us.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

Despite life’s overwhelming struggles and fears, we can still find hope to be strong by looking up to God’s promises.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.

Psalm 62:1 (ESV) 

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.

Psalm 62:5 (ESV)

Creation itself is a testament to the power of its Maker; with just one word, Jesus could calm even the fiercest storm.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Mark 4:39 (ESV)

As Israel was trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s vast army, Moses issued an unbelievable command – silence. It seemed daunting against such odds, but miraculously something incredible happened.

And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)

Our faith in God and his incredible ability to save us is so strong we have nothing left to fear. And by keeping silent and resting our worries aside, we can express assurance in Him.

5. Be Silent in Wisdom

Wisdom isn’t always about what you say – it’s often more critical to use listening as a tool. Beyond that, wisdom allows us to understand when silence is golden and speech unnecessary.

The book of Job reveals an interesting dilemma – the need to provide guidance and knowing when our silence is more valuable. It’s a dynamic we can all relate to in some situation or another.

Job’s friends might’ve had the best intentions, but their words sadly multiplied his sorrow.

Teach me, and I will be silent;
    make me understand how I have gone astray.

Job 6:24 (ESV)

“Let me have silence, and I will speak,
    and let come on me what may.

Job 13:13 (ESV)

They do, at one point, show true wisdom during their counsel to Job.  

 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

Job 2:13 (ESV)

Proverbs encourages us to use the power of silence for wisdom. Keeping quiet can help you stay out of trouble and make wiser decisions.

When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
    but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

Proverbs 10:19 (ESV)

And to manifest respect and understanding. 

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
    but a man of understanding remains silent.

Proverbs 11:12 (ESV)

Silence in the Bible is vital to wise and even-handed interactions. 

A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
    but a wise man quietly holds it back

Proverbs 29:11 (ESV)

Despite being usually overlooked, silence can be a potent tool. It’s so influential that a fool may even put on the mask of wisdom and intelligence.

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Proverbs 17:28 (ESV)

Silence in the Bible: To Glorify Our King

We honor the Lord when we remain silent, and with that same reverence, bless others by listening carefully before responding. Being still in both body and thought is truly a beautiful act of love.

He opens their ears to instruction
    and commands that they return from iniquity.
If they listen and serve him,
    they complete their days in prosperity,
    and their years in pleasantness.
But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword
    and die without knowledge.

Job 36:10-12 (ESV)

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

James 1:19 (ESV)

Silence stands out as a unique yet powerful virtue – that both the Church and believers embrace with reverence. It’s an essential part of living according to Christian values.

For students of the Bible, peace and quiet aren’t just about what we hear – it’s also about cultivating inner stillness. Silence is a powerful tool for reflection, growth, and connection with our faith.

Psalms contain many lines of comfort and solace. A comforting verse for many Bible students is this one:

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

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Although we may not think about it often, silence is an essential theme in the Bible. There are many examples of when God blessed people for their silence, such as Moses and Elijah. 

In a noisy world, it can be hard to find moments of quietness, but they are crucial for our relationship with God. So the next time you need time to reflect on your faith, try reading one of these verses about silence from the Bible. 

You may enjoy this video “Should I practice silence and solitude?” from Southern Seminary on silence in the Bible.

Or one of these recommended resources:

In Silence With God by Benedict Baur

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney

What other verses come to mind when thinking about silence in the Bible? Share them with us in the comments below!

ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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