For so long the word ‘shalom’ has been translated as peace. This is an okay translation but fails to 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 the 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:
Shalom [is] – a very pregnant word that means God’s all-consuming, all-redeeming peace. The hope of a kingdom where God is worshipped wholly, where humanity extends love and mercy with generosity, where systemic injustice is broken and “the oppressed are set free”.
– Tish Harrison Warren
Liturgy of the Ordinary
Shalom is the way in which the prophets talked about a day when all things would be made right again. Those things that have become corrupt and polluted would be re-made in such a way that it would take our breath away.
Through imagery and story, the prophets painted a picture of how things are supposed to be. People would no longer be looked on as tools and property in the hands of the powerful, but as people made in the very image of God. People would not try to build their own kingdoms in which they rule in their own way, but would gladly be a part of the kingdom of God, letting God be God, so that peace would prevail in the world.
The prophets pictured a world in which the environment that was originally created good would become freed from the curse. They spoke of a place in which people would genuinely love each other. This is the idea of shalom.
– JR Woodward,
“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