Posts Tagged ‘Selah’

“You are a shield around me, O Lord;

You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.

To the Lord I cry aloud,

And he answers me from his holy hill.


(Psalm 3:3-4, NIV).

Seventy-one times in psalms we find that word, selah.

And no one can say definitively what it means, because the Hebrew root word is uncertain.  One humorist suggested it was a word spoken by David when a string broke on his harp!

Here’s a review of what more serious Bible scholars have proposed.

One possibility:  selah is related to calah which means “to hang” or “to measure or weigh in the balances.”

Or,  selah may come from three Hebrew words, s_lah (to praise) and s_lal, (to lift up), or salah (to pause).

Selah may have been a musical direction, for a pause in the vocal music and an interlude of instruments only.

I personally like how the Amplified version translates Selah: “pause and calmly think about that.”  An instrumental interlude would certainly lend itself to meditation on what was just sung, to weigh in the balance of the intellect the value of the statement, to give praise for its certain truth.

For a bit of practice, I skimmed through the psalms looking for the word, Selah, and quickly discovered places where pausing and calmly thinking about a passage could have heart-changing results:

Feeling alone and powerless against difficulty?  Pause and calmly think about Psalm 24:10.

“Who is he, this King of glory?  The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory.  Selah.”

I’m reminded that nothing is too hard for our splendorous God.  He is all-powerful and all-wise.

Feeling worried?  Pause and calmly think about Psalm 32:7.

“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.  Selah.”

The hiding place of God’s presence is in the spiritual realm, where he makes his sweet peace and gentle comfort available.  Troubles may come, but they cannot destroy me.  My soul is secure for eternity because Jesus has delivered me from the consequences of my sin.  And  one day I will live with him forever!

Feeling frightened?  Pause and calmly think about Psalm 46:1-3.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  Selah.

Whatever calamity I might have to face, God will supply the necessary strength.  Again, God is my refuge—a personal retreat.  I can go to him for peace and comfort   He is always present, as close as a whispered prayer, not just ready to help, but eager.

Feeling useless?  Pause and calmly think about Psalm 57:2-3.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.  He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me; God sends his love and his faithfulness.  Selah.”

God doesn’t waste his time making useless beings.  Every one of us has purpose, and as I cry out to him and make myself available to him, he has promised to fulfill that purpose.  He will also put passion and joy into my heart for his plan.  He “is too gracious to ask [me] to do something [I] hate” (Max Lucado, Just Like Jesus).

And so, a Selah interlude, I find, affirms, uplifts, and strengthens.

It can also be a moment of worship as I turn my thoughts into praise.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the capacity to think deeply, to meditate and discover.  Truly, Selah interludes provide for the renewal of my mind and the transformation of my state of being.  Help me to remember to pause and calmly think about your Word—often!

(Photo credits:  www.flickr.com , http://www.marthaspong.com , http://www.ministrylift.ca )

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