For so long the word ‘shalom’ has been translated as peace. This is an okay translation but fails convey the true extent of the word. Many will think of the absence of war when they think of the word peace. The absence of hostility is an aspect of shalom but it is a far more relational word. Rather shalom could almost be described as ‘wholeness’ or ‘fullness’. It is the utmost in relationships. It is the harmonious existence of relationship between a person and God; a person and others; a person and their environment; and a person in their inner self. But it is not merely the harmonious relationship but the delight and enjoyment of relationship.
Here’s a couple of other thoughts on shalom:
“This is what the Bible means when it talks about shalom. That ancient Hebrew word is usually translated “peace” – but it means so much more. It is not just the absence of war or hatred, but is much more positive. It describes wholeness and health, with everything working well, in its right place. We could even say that shalom is the integration that humans were made to enjoy.”
– Mark Meynell, What Makes Us Human
“The peace which is shalom is not merely the absence of hostility, not merely being in right relationship. Shalom at its highest is the enjoyment in one’s relationships… To dwell in shalom is to enjoy living before God, to enjoy living in one’s physical surroundings, to enjoy living with one’s fellows, to enjoy living with oneself.”
– Nicholas Wolterstorff, Until Justice and Peace Embrace