There’s a word in the Hebrew Bible that is unknown. Nobody knows what it means or really how it should be pronounced. It occurs usually at the end of a verse, but not always. In some places it comes in the middle of a sentence or verse. See Psalms 55:19 and 57:3; and Habakkuk 3:3, 9, and 13. There are many speculations about what it might mean. Since the Psalms were set to music, it may be a musical or literary term. Here are some of the ideas about its meaning:
- “stop and listen”
- “pause and think”
- a break in the song
- a change in rhythm, melody or instrumentation
- “hang” (as in measuring an item’s weight)
- a change of thought or theme
- “lift up,” “exalt,” “cast up”
- “loud,” “fortissimo” (cymbals please!)
- voices hushed; musical interlude
It’s been used in modern applications, too, from Rastafarian to U2. I don’t know what it’s supposed to mean, but I know what it means to me.
Selah. Stop. Think. Listen.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week as I’ve come across special verses and quotes (in any book) that are meaningful to me. Usually I grab my notebook and write them down quickly and move on. But God is saying “Selah” — stop and think about what you just read. Listen to Me. Wait. Hang with Me a few more minutes. Rest. Selah.
Let’s do that this Easter week. Let’s stop and think; wait and listen, be quiet, be still, and exalt Him.
Someone suggested this very useful idea: spend a few moments each day just being still and quiet before God. No thoughts (she said, when they come just flick them away like little boats down a river). No prayers. No reading. Just be still.
“Be still and know that I am God.” “Here I am Lord.”
When He speaks it may be in the form of an invitation. If you are thinking, “I should be doing this,” or “I shouldn’t have said that,” just flick those thoughts away. God’s voice will come in the way of an invitation — “Come away with Me and relax,” or “Don’t be afraid,” or perhaps a friend’s face will appear in your mind and you’ll know how to join God in loving them in some way. We don’t initiate these invitations; God does. And sometimes we hear nothing from Him at all; that’s OK too. But it’s worth it to stop and sit quietly before Him, especially if you’re trying to make a decision or stressed about something.
Selah. Stop. Rest. Relax. Wait. Be still. Exalt. Listen. Pause. Think. Selah!