When you read the Psalms you will find a word occasionally that kind of “punctuates” one of those ancient songs, its the word “selah”. Ever discover what that means? Most of us probably just keep moving on thinking it’s one of those things in the Bible I’ll be clueless about until I go to glory, right? Yep, I can hear the nods already. Or, “No, I don’t know but I’m sure you will tell me as I read this blog.” There is a part of me that is now toying with the idea of NOT, ha ! But I will, or else I will have to change topics.
Well, “Selah” is very common in the Old Testament (notably in the Psalms). Its used 75 times in our Bibles and so that many times must account for something significant we must understand. We first see it used not in the Psalms but in the book of Second Kings “He slew of Edom in the valley of salt ten thousand, and took Selah by war and called the name of it Joktheel unto this day.” (2Kgs 14:7). Its basic meaning is “the rock” – a biblical version of the prison Alcatraz, perhaps? Kinda sorta, in this respect: what do you do when you’re walking, say in the woods, and you come to a big rock in your path? Pause for you to think – – – – Ok, did you say you stop?! Or you think about what to do next?
When the inspired hymn writers penned the psalms and used this word they used it as a mental and musical device to get the listener to stop and think about what had just been written, and in the case of the psalms what had just been sung ! Some would say its like a rest symbol in musical compositions. But ultimately, its a spiritual device !!
So let’s look at one way David used “Selah”. He was fleeing for his life from an attempted coup by Absalom his son and he’s naturally fearful and writes, “How are they increased that trouble me ! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in God’ – SELAH” (Ps.3:1-2). Like David, when you do right in a world gone wrong you will face opposition at times and feel overwhelmed. The naysayers will then hurl their negative chants and say “You are toast !” just as they did with David here. “You may as well give up !” “Why do you keep trying?” and on and on the “advice” can go. If David had dwelt on their remarks he would’ve been a panic attack victim or resorted to meds to cope but instead he stopped and paused and actually thought about what they were saying, BUT he compared it with TRUTH !
Listen to the next verses: “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. I laid me down and SLEPT, I awaked, for the Lord SUSTAINED me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” (verses 3-6). There is a LOT to glean here and adapt to us when we feel overwhelmed. A ton of work, a slew of enemies, etc.
David just did what you and I need to do when we start to feel a bit anxious, intimidated, or fearful. He stopped and compared those feelings and threats with TRUTH and he was emboldened to press on ! So whatever opposition you may be facing, remember – SELAH !! The Word of God is POWERFUL, by it the universe came to be !! So we just need to stop and think more about what God has already said more than what mere people think or say !