The Wisdom of Silence

Jeff Munroe

Read: Ecclesiastes 5

Let your words be few. (v. 2)

When Qoheleth wrote this exhortation a couple millennia ago, he had no idea what was coming. In a 2013 article, research organization SINTEF estimates that 90 percent of the world’s data had been generated in the previous two years. Others note that currently more than one billion people log on to Facebook daily, and every minute more than half a million comments are posted on the site. Add to that the content from all other forms of social media, a thousand television channels, thousands of new books every year, and on and on. This is the “age of information glut.” We are awash in a sea of words.

If Qoheleth were alive, he’d call this glut of words a vanity, and he’d ask if smartphones actually make anyone smarter. We have the accumulated knowledge of the world at our fingertips, but do we learn wisdom from it? We may create more content in an hour than the Greek philosophers and biblical writers did in a lifetime, but precious little of it has value or depth. Mostly it’s just noise. This causes more than a little concern for someone like me who keeps churning out words. I take Qoheleth’s warning very seriously.

There is more wisdom in silence than noise. We all need to turn down the volume, and we should weigh carefully what words to use when we break the silence. Qoheleth’s caution about too many words is more important than ever. —Jeff Munroe

Prayer: O Lord, teach us the wisdom of silence.