Selah is a word found in the Old Testament. It shows up 71 times in the book of Psalms, and then you’ll see it 3 more times in Habakkuk, one of the prophets.
For example, see Psalm 3, which we’ve been reading as a church this week:
O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
(Psalm 3:1-4, emphasis added)
The meaning of the Hebrew word is somewhat enigmatic, but most scholars believe it is a musical term meaning: “stop and listen” or “pause, and think about that.” So it could also mean that a musical interlude should be inserted at that point.
One interpretation is that the word selah comes from a Hebrew root word, calah, which means “to hang.” Back in the OT, people would hang things on a scale to weigh them and then assign value or worth.
It’s as if the Psalmist is saying, “stop and hang out right here; weigh what you just said or heard; ponder it’s meaning and worth.”
These “hanging” moments are part of the rhythm of the psalms. I don’t know about you, but I need moments like this in the rhythm of my daily life.
What if we practiced selah? Stop. Listen. Pay attention. Weigh what you just read, what you just saw or experienced, what you just heard, what you just said.
We are inundated with information and opinions, articles and Facebook posts. I read a lot of them. And then I move on to the next cat video.
What if we stopped and weighed? A sunset. A moment around the table with friends. A lyric in a song. A line from a book. What if we stopped and weighed before we posted it?
What if we read God’s Word this way? Instead of cramming it in and checking the box, what if we took a smaller bite and practiced selah? “Wow, what is this really saying?”
We live in a busy world. We have to make time to reflect. That’s why God’s Word is trying to build it in.