Biblical shalom involves wholeness, delight, and a sense of meaning and purpose for all of God’s creation. Shalom is the way things are supposed to be! This includes four facets: peace with nature, peace in society, peace with ourselves, and peace with God. This is the third and last in the series on peace with ourselves.
The Book of Proverbs is a marvelous source for learning wise lessons about how to live life. Periodically I read one chapter of Proverbs a day and, since it has 31 chapters, it neatly fits most months. This book was written to give “knowledge and discretion to the young” and to add to the learning of the “wise.” I will assume the readers of this essay fit one of these two categories.
Proverbs begins with the foundational statement that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7) and its many wise sayings are grounded in that truth. One insight I discovered when reading Proverbs was this: “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones” (14:30, NIV). In this passage, Solomon, son of King David and the author of large portions of Proverbs, points out that fear (reverence or honor) of the Lord and obedience to his commands results in a “heart at peace.” Internal peace brings good health. The opposite is also true, according to Solomon. A heart not at peace because of envy, jealousy or anger, for example, “rots the bones” – a graphic description of a cancerous infection.
The Bible makes a connection between our spiritual condition and our physical condition. Solomon describes the benefits of seeking wisdom, fearing God and avoiding evil in these words: “This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (3:8). He subsequently notes that all of wisdom’s “paths are peace” (3:17).
Peace with ourselves, because of God’s presence and guidance in our lives, is a healthy condition. God’s shalom is life-giving and life-sustaining, because God desires the best for us. This is not to say that believers will never experience serious illness – we certainly have in our family — but rather to point out the way in which envy, hate or jealousy can literally eat away at us and cause physical deterioration. The connection between the physical and spiritual spheres of our lives is evident here. The fact that God’s peace offers restoration in all areas of our lives, including our physical well-being, should encourage us in our daily journey through life.
- Have you experienced this reality in your own life where you are so angry with or envious of someone that it actually affects your ability to sleep, to function well or feel healthy? Asking God to relieve you of this anger or jealousy is the best medicine available, according to a very wise man (King Solomon).
- Can you see the beauty of Biblical shalom – how all aspects of life are integrated? Our spiritual condition is linked to our physical condition and peace with ourselves enables us to be at peace with God, with others and with our natural environment? Biblical shalom allows us to be fully human, as God intended us to be!