It’s a vague word from ancient Hebrew. Scripture makes no attempt to provide a definition where it has been recorded, making it difficult to translate with confident accuracy. “Selah” is found only in two books of the Bible, Psalms and Habakkuk. (If you’d like to explore the riches of Habakkuk, visit Pause IV!)
In the span of thirty-nine psalms, Selah is included an amazing seventy-one times! Usually, it is placed after a set of verses like we find in our Psalm 46, or sometimes it’s found at the very end of a psalm like a built-in doxology. (Psalm 3, 24, and 46) The structure of the word is similar to two other Hebrew words meaning “to lift up; to praise” and “to pause”, which gives scholars the most educated guess for a definition.
Fitting for our Journey Theme, isn’t it?
“To pause and praise with uplifted hands and voices.”
Have you done that today?
I know, it’s Monday, but maybe Selah is precisely what you need most.
I sat with a friend today who was recounting how she had told the Lord on a particularly busy day last week that she simply had no time to sit with His Word. She knew immediately the Holy Spirit was telling her ,“No. No. No.”, and when she read “No. No. No.” on a random sign, she was quickly convicted. She stopped what she was doing and sat down to open her Bible.
More interesting to me is the location of Selah in this psalm. The last two instances follow a repeated chorus, “The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (verses 7 and 11) A settled and confident refrain that declares the assurance of certain truth, implying that when we pause, selah, we ought to think intentionally on the truths we know to be unshakeable.
Perhaps part of your Monday can include carrying this truth with you into every meeting, phone call, and conversation. Remember Who fights for you, Who is present, Who holds you Strongly, and choose to selah.
While the Sons of Korah call us to Selah after singing of our mighty fortress, the songwriters also call us to Selah after staring in the face of our struggles. (verses 2-3)
It can be easy to fall into the false belief that, because we are Christians, we must surely have all our struggles figured out and respond with a Bible verse platitude to pain.
“God has a plan.”
While all true statements, if we don’t take time to genuinely sit in the reality of pain and suffering, these truths land tritely and, instead of peace, we feel only irritation and frustration in our souls.
The call to Selah in Psalm 46 instructs differently.
“Though the earth trembles
and mountains topple into the sea,
though waters roar
and mountains quake…”
Look square in the face of your pain and behold all of its terror.
Then, while anchoring in the Truth of Who your Stronghold is, choose selah.
We don’t need to pretend we’re fine, Sisters.
Let’s not hide our pain behind a Bible verse, let’s hold onto truth, all of truth, and choose to “pause and lift our hands in praise” despite all the real, raw mess.
Because, our God?
He’s the God of Angel Armies.
He’s our fortress.
He’s got this!
Prayer is central to our ministry as believers in Jesus as we carry eachother’s burdens and intercede for one another. Our team is honored to share the work of praying alongside you!
Authentically living out a life of worship to the God who rescued us from darkness requires accountability and intentionality. Join a GT POD and take the next step in your faith journey!