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)
Recently on my way to work, I asked the Lord to give me a verse to ‘chew on’ for the day. Since I was driving, found it safest to have Him provide it from my memory, instead of grabbing my ‘Porta Sword’ (aka, ‘Bible in car’). All that came to mind and heart was … “Stand“. Alrighty. Well. “I am driving Lord!” Deciding He didn’t mean that I change my posture, I was quickly taken to Ephesians 6.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm…” (vs. 11,13,14)
Think Paul was attempting to drive home a point? Stand, stand, STAND – STAND for crying out loud! Picture if you will with me, Paul is in house arrest, a Roman soldier stands guard over him. There is no television, no radio, no internet, tablet or Smartphone to play with. Paul has his quill, ink, parchment and Mr. Soldier near by. Could it be that the Holy Spirit guiding Pauls heart as he wrote, had him gazing at his captor? Belt, breastplate, shoes, helmet, sword and shield. I would have loved to listen to Paul’s conversation as he tried to get Barthelimus (my given name for him, sounds Roman-ish does it not?) to take a seat. Strong, faithful, and devoted. Standing, forever standing. Standing … still.
Wikipedia defines ‘standstill’ as an interruption of normal activity. How often do we stop our routine and stand … still.
Exodus 14, yep the first dunk tank, remember “the horse and rider fell into the sea.” In pursuit by the Egyptians, the Lord told Moses to tell the people. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today … The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (vs, 13,14)
Be Still. “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Ps. 46:10a) to be still or as the NAS puts it ‘cease striving’ gives the word picture of “to weaken your hands, to let drop” So what’s in our hands? Our fisted hands? We are encouraged to relax our grip, and let it fall. Empty our hands. When our hands are empty we are free to raise them to our God, He in turn will fill them with His desire, purpose, blessing and … Himself. “Be still, and know that I am God…”
Selah. “You are my hiding place, You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverence. Selah” Selah is used 71 times in the Psalms. It is known as a muscial instruction, to pause, or to take a breath. The Amplified translation adds, “pause and calmly think about that.” It can also be rendered, “to hang, or to measure or weigh in the balances.” Interesting. How often do we pause and CALMLY think about things, or take the time to weigh opportunites, mindsets or behavior? I know … OUCH!
With societies current focus of move forward, move fast, get ahead, DOING has become a symbol of effectiveness and success. The world is NOISEY, and full of constant movement. We are running full force in many directions, with our hands full of ‘stuff’, with the ever growing NEED to be a multi-tasker. Sure we may ‘get ahead’ in a couple aspects of our life, yet we are tired, beat down, defeated. The enemy of our soul likes it THAT way!
This week, may we stop – pause, take a breath, empty our hands, calmly think about things. Taking in His heart, His focus, His strength. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Stand firm in God, stand still.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)