Names of God Day 1: Shalom
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)
God is many things to us: He is love, He is light, and He is sovereign over our lives. But if there is one attribute of His that brings particular comfort, it is that He is peace. He is Jehovah Shalom.
The translation of Jehovah Shalom is “the Lord is peace.” In a world that is stained with so much unrest and emptiness, peace is something that each of us longs for. And not only is it something we long for, it is something we need. We need it because God created us to need Him, and He is that peace.
To understand our God as Jehovah Shalom a little better, let’s have a (very elementary) word study:
Shalom, a Hebrew word, is a masculine noun, but also sometimes functions as an adverb or adjective. It is most often translated as “peace,” but as many writers and commentators have pointed out, it is a word that carries such abundant meaning.
Strong’s Concordance defines shalom with these words: safe, well, happy, friendly, welfare, health, and prosperity. Other Bible commentators have explained it this way:
“Peace (shalom) signifies a sense of well-being and harmony both within and without… The root meaning of shalom is to be whole or sound, and this leads to translations that speak of completeness, wholeness, well-being, welfare and peace.”
“The Hebrew word is shalom, which is more than the cessation of hostility—it is God’s word for wholeness and goodness and total satisfaction in life. This is the abundant life Jesus promised!”
Even from just these few descriptions, it is obvious that God’s peace is so much greater than any feigned peace we are offered in this world. It is wholeness. It is completeness. It is enough to satisfy us. That can only come from Him.
There are many verses in the Old Testament that use the word shalom. Some speak directly about God, while some apply other uses of the word. The verse above, for example, was written by the prophet Isaiah, and it reminds us that peace is a part of God’s perfect nature—it comes directly from Him. “Perfect peace” in the original text uses the word shalom twice: literally “peace peace.” While this may sound strange in English, it displays the wholeness, abundance, and perfection of God so well. (Because there are so many more verses, I really encourage you to look into them on your own; it will definitely further your understanding and appreciation of our God of peace.)
But perhaps the most incredible part of our God as Jehovah Shalom is that He was made known to us fully in the Lord Jesus. In fact, hundreds of years before He came and brought God’s peace to us, it was promised.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Most of all, His death for our sins was the means to bring us that peace. Isaiah also wrote,
“He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (53:5).
How incredible is that! Jehovah Shalom, the God of peace, gave us His Son to die in our place—to take the punishment for our sins—so that we can experience His peace tangibly. Praise God for that, and for Jesus’ willingness to be our substitute. Because He was, we can know Him personally as the one who “Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).
The full expression of shalom in the person of Christ emphasizes the abundance, fullness and completeness of God’s peace even more, because He is abundant, full and complete. When we trust Him as our Savior, we have that peace now and forever because we have Him now and forever. Nothing else in this world will ever have that same steadfastness and security. It is only in the peace that comes from God. It is only in Christ.
While this barely scratches the surface of the immense meaning of shalom, I pray we will be encouraged and strengthened by resting in the truth that the Lord is peace. I pray that, out of thankfulness to God for giving us His peace in Jesus, we will share it with a world that so desperately needs it. And I pray we will rest in His promises…
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare [shalom] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).