Selah is not translated in our English Bibles. We just have the transliteration of the Hebrew word. But if you follow its usage, you can get a good grip on its meaning. It is used at the end of each stanza of Psalm 46. I have italicized it for you.
Literally, Selah means, step up. It could have been a musical notation. I like the speculation that it was used when the people ascended Mt. Zion with singing. As they came to a pause in the music, they would all take a step, or several steps, up. They would pause to take a step nearer to God.
There is a delightful little poem in Spurgeon's Treasury of David.
But as I said, whatever the meaning of the word, the most telling thing about selah is where it is placed in the text. Selah is a call to be still and know God.
Selah is used as a pause to reflect.
Selah gives a pause to pray.
Scripture reading should be bathed in prayer. We need to pray for God to open our eyes and hearts to see and hear what He is telling us. We need to ask Him to plant His truth in our hearts to transform our lives.
Selah brings a pause to listen.
Are you aware that God will speak to you personally in His word? We need to stop to remind ourselves that God is speaking as we read. Selah reminds us to stop and listen
Selah is a pause to understand.
The more we think about and meditate on Scripture the more the Holy Spirit of God explains to us. Our Lord speaks personally to you in His word. You need to be still and know what it means that He is God.
Selah is a pause to absorb.
In several of the parables of Jesus we see that the word and the kingdom of God are planted into our hearts. In Luke 13:19 Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed sown in someone’s garden, that grows to become a tree so that the birds make nests in its branches. This can certainly be applied to the kingdom of God being introduced to a tribe, a people group, or a city. But I think the Holy Spirit also applies it to each of our lives. James 1:21 calls us to, “receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save our souls.”
Selah pauses to remember.
It takes time and effort to fix God’s word in our minds. We will need to remember that God has said He is a very present help when trouble comes. We need to remember the stream that makes our hearts and cities glad.
Selah is a pause to tremble.
Considering that God has spoken to us, and that He is God over all our circumstances, should cause us to tremble. If you do not tremble before the Holy God, you do not understand.
Selah lets us pause to rejoice.
God is gracious, loving, mighty, and glorious! His people should rejoice as He draws near to speak to our hearts.
Selah is a pause to praise.
We need to exalt His name along with the nations. We need to stop where we are to praise Him. We will exalt His name forever!
Selah pauses to commit.
Unlike the person spoken of in James 1:24, who glances at the mirror of God's word and promptly forgets what he saw, we are to take time to commit ourselves to obey what God tells us in His word.
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