I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah. Psalm 61:4 (KJV)
Have you noticed that the word selah appears often when reading the Psalms?
Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psalm 62:8 (KJV)
All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah. Psalms 66:4 (KJV)
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. Psalms 68:19 (KJV)
Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. Psalms 84:4 (KJV)
What does selah mean? We are probably familiar with the two Hebrew words amen and hallelujah, but did you know that selah is used three times as often in the Old Testament as those words? In fact, selah is used in over a quarter of the psalms.
Why is it there? Apparently, it is considered a technical musical term for an instrumental interlude because the psalms were often set to music. To refer to the dictionary of Hebrew terms, selah is a Hebrew word meaning “a musical interlude; to pause and think about what was just said or sung; or to pause and watch for a visual demonstration of what was said or sung”. The Amplified Bible adds “pause, and calmly think about that” to each verse where selah appears. Thus today’s verse reads:
I will dwell in Your tabernacle forever; let me find refuge and trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah (pause, and calmly thing of that)! Psalm 61:4 (AMPC)
It’s more than a word; its an instruction. Selah asks us to stop, pause, and think about the ramifications of what we have read.
Commentaries offer two other viable meanings based on Hebrew root word study: ‘to be weighed’; ‘to exalt’. We should pause to carefully weigh the meaning of what we have just read or heard, and we should exalt or lift the name of the Lord.
It reminds me of a little saying I heard years ago: “If we pause to think, we have cause to thank.” Ponder the deep implications of what has been written and thank God for His work in your life.
Father help me to pause and be still in You, knowing that You are God. May I pepper ‘selah’ moments throughout my day so that I can stop and spend time contemplating You. Help me to submit to the forced ‘selah’ moments You bring into my life and not struggle against them. Amen