Selah by Peggy

Selah. An interesting word, but what the heck does it mean?? Many people who read this blog have probably never even heard the word.

We see the word over 70 times in the Psalms, and 3 times in Habakkuk. Now, I don’t always do really deep theological studies. Mostly I am a talker, a sharer of thoughts. So, let’s just talk about this word. From my research, I conclude that no one is really quite sure what it means. It’s definitely used at a time of pause in the songs of Psalms and Habakkuk. Some say it means to rise and look up. That fits as an instruction to the worshipers singing the song. Some say it means bow down; humble yourself. That also is a fitting meaning at certain spots. Then some say it means pause a minute: a musical interlude, or a pause to reflect, to think about it. Again, a fitting meaning. But what does that have to do with us? Why include a technical instruction to musicians as part of the Scriptures? It must mean something to us, to our lives.

I’ve had lots of things happen this past year in my life to give me pause. At the beginning of last year, I lost my job. I was caught in a net-sweep lay-off in a company that was losing money. This was a first for me; I’ve never lost a job in my life. I felt lost. It was a time to stop and think. What do I do now?

I looked up, and I prayed. In my prayers, I asked God, (very tongue in cheek): “You know what I want, God? I want a part time job with a full time pay check. Do you think you can make that happen for me?” That really was what I prayed. Honestly, sometimes I wonder why God doesn’t just smite me –it’s a good thing He’s patient J But literally, the next day, a head-hunter called me and told me of a need for a Project Manager with my skill-set, but they only wanted someone for between 20 and 24 hours per week. Of course, I went on the interview. The offer made to me the same day was for full-time. I thought about it for a minute, then remembered what I prayed for. I said no. I was only interested in a part-time job. The head hunter went into negotiation. The executive management of this company wanted me. They said ok to the part time, and then said for me to “name my price”. I did, and they accepted. I went to work exactly two weeks after I got laid off from the other company, with a part time job, and a full time income! This caused me to pause again, and bow down in humble adoration of God, who heard my prayer and answered, in spite of me.  Selah.

Later in the year, our world was rocked when two close friends suddenly died, days apart. It was unbelievable, really, and no one saw it coming. One was the best man in our wedding. I was the matron of honor in the other’s wedding. Years ago I learned to never ask “why” when death happens, but to just ask “God, what do you want me to learn from that life, and from the experience of this death?”

I was asked to speak at my girlfriend’s funeral. I reflected on her life, amazed at how much we shared in our years of friendship. I was struck at what a good person she was, and how many lives she touched with her kindness. I am better for having known her. As I looked up I thanked God for her, and I was grateful that she was not going to have to live a life in sickness. I was humbled to know that she was actually in the eternal presence of God. I can’t even imagine it. Selah.

I couldn’t find any commentaries where the authors were really certain for the instruction to selah. What does one do to selah? Look up? Bow down? Pause? I think it’s all three, but it’s in the pause that we grow and learn. I think to selah is “to faith”. Yes, it’s the action of faith. Faith is the substance of thing hoped for—it is an action: to wait, believing. Think about pregnancy: When we are pregnant, we wait for birth, as the baby grows. We have faith that the baby will be born in it’s due time, and, as the child grows and is formed in the womb, we mothers get to know her/him. Then this little person is born, and we are awestruck and humbled. To be pregnant pregnancy is to be in a state of selah.

Think of Mary: believing that the child she gave birth to is the promised Redeemer, not knowing every day how that was going to play out–how it was going to end.  How could this child, this normal little boy, be the Redeemer? Waiting, praying, believing.  Selah.

We are not born to figure it all out.  We are born to learn and to grow, to know that God is who He says He is. All of life, every circumstance, every day, is to selah. No matter what the situation, we wait in faith, believing. We are given wisdom and instruction.  We do our best as children, siblings, parents, spouses.  We do our best at our jobs, we do our best at life. And during that time, we look up, we reflect, and we bow down. It’s not just what we do, it is who we are. Selah.

 

Selah by Ronda

My first exposure to the word “selah” came from my parallel KJV/Amplified Bible. I remember when I first started reading the amplified translation; this logophile (someone who loves words) was just mesmerized. As an aspiring writer I respect the need for succinct writing but I am equally enamored by the power of words. So discovering this ancient term, selah was wonderful. Selah, saying it sounds sweet coming off the lips. According to the Amplified Bible translation, selah is defined as “pause and calmly think of that”.

Fast- forward a few thousand years and the technological use of forty words or less. Selah is the word I use when I post something that I believe should provoke contemplation and thought. Selah, is pause and think of that before your next post, your next tweet, your next text. Take a moment and contemplate what was just shared. I try not to overuse it, because then, like many other words it loses its significance and power. So selah is a word that I treasure and am thankful to have discovered.

Selah. 1

In preparation for this post I decided I wanted to dig a little deeper into selah. I was sure there was more to this ancient term that I knew. Jewish tradition teaches that the Word of God has layers like an onion and there are deep revelations to be discovered by God’s Spirit if it is sought out. Deep calleth unto deep.

Selah is a word that is referenced most in the Psalms by King David. It is usually used directly in correlation with the musical syntax of the Psalm. Psalms were song by the musicians of the temple and were an integral part of worship to God Most High. Interestingly, the only other place beside the Psalms that selah is mentioned is in the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet during the time of the Babylonian empire prior to Jerusalem’s destruction. If you have ever read the book of Habakkuk you are familiar with his laments toward God regarding the impending judgment of Israel. He is not a happy camper, I mean prophet.

Chapter three of Habakkuk is where ‘selah’ breaks onto the scene: verses 3, 9, and 13. The first verse of Habakkuk describes this chapter as a prayer according to the Shigionoth. This terminology refers to a musical style that was used by musicians and temple Levites in worship. So the question remains, what would make this prophet who was challenging God’s justice in chapters 1 and 2 end his prophetic book with Shigionoth and Selah? I think the answer is found in chapter 2:1-3.

“I will stand upon my watch and set me upon the tower and watch and see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the LORD answered me, and said, ‘ Write the vision and make it plain upon tables; that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

Habakkuk was about to get his answer from the LORD and it would SPEAK and it would be a prophetic vision that would cause him to sing prophetically and proclaim selah.

Selah 1.2

If we take out the chapter and verses of this book we read in chapter 2:20, “But the LORD is in his Holy temple; let all the earth keep silent before him. Next the prophet divinely inspired sings in Hebraic poetic meter the following verses that exalt God. Habakkuk instructs us to ‘selah’ in our lives when it seems that God is not fighting our battles and we are doubtful because of circumstances. Habakkuk recalls the glory of God on Mount Sinai (verse 3); God’s sure Word to the tribes in the wilderness (verse 9) and his promise of salvation (Yeshua) for his people even his anointed Messiah (verse 13). Each time he proclaims, selah. He saw the vision and it did speak. This prophetic word arrested him (verse 16). He spontaneously declared praise to God. We know that this prophetically inspired prayer changed him because of the last three verses of chapter 3. I will let your read them yourself. Then I encourage you to ‘Selah’.

Burdens of prayer can be transformed into prophetic prayer and praise when our vision is redirected to the faithfulness of our God. Grace and peace.

Selah by Andrea

When Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice and follow.  We can hear His voice today. He who spoke the universe into existence still speaks today.

 

Selah, consider this word, weigh it and see its value. David uses Selah as hear me and embrace the wisdom I have given you. Any time we stop and choose to consider His ways, His thoughts and the impact they have on our lives, we are hearing the Lord embracing us, growing us and knowing us.

I once heard a teaching that suggested we chew on each scripture until we have gathered everything it can give us. Our lives are full of moments to ‘chew’ on… times when we need to fully digest all that the Lord is giving us in that moment or through an experience. Only then can we fully receive the lesson of our lives. If as believers we know the Lord is with us, then we know He is teaching us, guiding us and directing our steps. In submitting our wills to the Lord, we must hear and agree, His ways are better than our ways. Our ‘amen’ must reach His ‘amen’ and then His will will be done.

I think that most of us are uncertain if our lives are in God’s will. It is helpful to examine our walk with the Lord and ponder the impact we’ve had on someone else’s opportunity to receive Christ. In other words, on another’s eternity. If our lives were spent sharing Christ with only a few people, how do we measure the value of an eternity? Just one is infinite.

Selah… consider this… close your eyes and pretend you have never read a book, heard a sermon or known anything about scripture and you meet Christ. You meet Him as He met Peter, James or Mary Magdalene. Think of yourself as the woman at the well. There you are at a well drawing water and this man tells you He has water that will never make you thirst again. Living water. Before this day, everything anyone has told you, is that you are NOT good enough for God and now, there God sits with you. He is looking into your heart and telling you He has water for you. Jesus went against all the conventions of His day, He spoke to a woman, she was not of His sect. She was considered unclean and yet He offers to her, living water and with it eternal life. Then Jesus spends two days teaching the Samaritans everything they needed to know about the kingdom of God. While we spend lifetimes and run ourselves ragged trying to learn that simple lesson, drink and you will never thirst again.

So I say, Selah, consider this… and when you are unsure of your salvation, when you thirst for more remember it is Christ who has accomplished your salvation. Its value is infinite and it was bought with a precious precious price. The most important part of scripture was love your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength and your neighbor AS yourself. Think about this…. in it hangs everything the Lord ever spoke through the law and the prophets… and if you find you can not love someone, be kind.

God bless, andrea