Selah, 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, Instagram, texting and of course Facebook, all the while #hashtagging each moment of each day. Fast. Busy. Tired.
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” – King David, Psalm 3:3-4
Selah is used seventy-four times in the Bible. All but three are in the Psalms (Yes, I sat in church and read every one of them – sorry Pastor, a bit distracted) the others are in the Prayer of Habakkuk, (3:3, 3:9, 3:13) 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!) Some commentaries totally crack me up!
A common thread that I found among the scholars is that ‘Selah’ is one of the most difficult Hebrew words to define. 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 conveys Selah speaks to the musician as to ‘take a breath’- to pause. Another suggests ‘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.
Oh, how WE need selah! 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: phone, computer, tablet. Selah. When was the last time we paused and praised? We stood still and took a breather. A serious breather! When was the last time we rested and truly became aware of Who God is, and what He is doing? 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 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” (emphasis mine)
Selah, an amazingly beautiful word. Under the inspiration of God Himself, He ordained its use in the scriptures, may we too find among the poetry of our lives ‘Selah’, pause and praise and reflection on Him!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)