To Pause & Praise
Fast. Busy. Our lives tend to ramble from one thing to another in quick motion. On the go, our pockets buzz with Twitter-IM-LinkedIn-Blogging and of course Facebook. Within minutes, a captured incident on YouTube will have 20k views, leaving NOTHING for privacy. We Skype with loved ones, communicate in Forums, and visit in Chat rooms. In a room full of people, we ignore the face to face and opt for screen to screen. Fast. Busy. Tired. Alone. I have one word. Selah
“But Thou, O LORD, art a shield for me
my glory and the lifter up of mine head
I cried unto the LORD with my voice
and He heard me out of His holy hill.
Selah” – Davidic Psalm (Ps. 3:3-4 KJV)
Selah pronounced ‘seh-law’ is used 74 times in the Bible. All but 3 are in the Psalms (Yes, I sat in church and read everyone of them – sorry Pastor, a bit distracted) The other 3 are in the Prayer of Habakkuk, (Hab. 3:3 – 3:9 – 3:13) Some have attributed all its uses to David, yet found among his are The Sons of Korah, Asaph and Ethan’s writings as well. The purest meaning of the word is unknown, one resource states it is so old, ancient rabbis were unsure of the precise meaning. I even read, due to its seemly random usage, Selah is the word used by David when he broke a string. HA! (Ok, moving on.)
A common thread that I found among the scholars and those of etymology studies is that ‘Selah’ is one of the most difficult Hebrew words to define. And often occurs by itself in between lines of poetry. It is tucked among various circumstances of life and battle. I observed it is known as a musical or liturgical note indicating a transition. A suspension of music, Crescendo or musical interlude. One resource conveyed Selah speaks to the musician as to ‘take a breath’- to pause. Potential meaning also, to lift up, one can say, ‘to hang up the instrument.’ In summary, most scholars believe that it indicates either a rest or a pause of the voice or instrument, or to rest and reflect on the preceding words. Meditating on the depth of insight. It is thought to be rendered from two Hebrew words: Salal, to extol and praise. And salah, to pause.
May I be so bold as to say, “O how WE need selah.” To take what was scratched on parchment in ancient days of old and apply to our current culture. How many of us need to gracefully transition from one circumstance to another. To ‘hang up our instrument’ of distraction (if you will) for just a bit, whether that be our ‘can’t live without’ cell phone, the computer or any other gadget that consumes us and reflect on God and His Word. Selah.
When was the last time we ‘paused and praised?’ We STOOD STILL, and took a breather. A serious breather! For some of us, if we did, we may end up gasping as one out of shape and attempting 10 flights of stairs. When was the last time we ‘rested our voice’ and listened. When was the last time we rested, giving room for more to be said? Selah.
The Psalm above was written when David was being pursued by his ‘seeking the throne for his own’ son Absalom. He opens the Psalm with, “O LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying, “God will not deliver him.” Selah Can you hear the earnest-ness in his tone, the anguish of heart? Verse 3: “BUT YOU are my 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.” Selah (NIV – emphasis mine)
Perhaps we too are in a crisis and a battle of some sorts, in the midst of it are we pausing to declare “BUT YOU … O LORD!” Are we crying out to Him? Do we give opportunity to quote David in saying, “Because the LORD sustains me, I will not fear…” (v. 5) Selah
Selah, an amazingly beautiful word. Under the inspiration of God Himself, He ordained its use in the scriptures, regardless of our confirmed definition. May we find among the poetry of our lives ‘Selah’, pause and praise and reflection of Him!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)