“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Maybe you’ve heard the joke: What did David (the Psalmist) say when he came to the end of a verse and he couldn’t remember the words? Answer: “Selah” [Rim shot here!]
Scholars have debated the meaning of the Hebrew word, but most believe it is either a call for a musical interlude, or a call for the reader to pause. In either case the word ought to serve as a call for the modern reader to pause, reflect, and consider the verses immediately preceding the phrase or verses.
In the case of Psalm 46 the “Selah” is doubly significant. “Be still” says the Psalmist. Quiet yourself and remember who is God (and who is not). Then, “the God of Jacob is our refuge…” If we have a refuge, perhaps we ought to go there once in a while. Perhaps we ought to take advantage of the opportunity to rest in Him. Surely we ought to be still long enough to hear Him when He is speaking to us.
Just like most of us would miss such small and unobtrusive stop signs like the one in Calvert, Texas, so many of us miss the “selahs” that God puts down for our edification.
One of my favorite books is The Life You’ve Always Wanted,by John Ortberg. In that book, he describes a conversation with a spiritual mentor whose advise he is seeking.
“What is the next thing I should be doing inf I want to deepen my relationship with God?” he asks [I am paraphrasing the conversation here]. His friend answers, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” John replies, “OK. Got that. What’s next?”
His kind spiritual mentor says, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Ortberg says, “Yeah, I’ve got that. What else is there?”
The mentor says, “There is nothing else. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
And so it goes. If we are to see the stop signs as invitations to grow closer to God, to stand by and watch what He is doing, to stay out of God’s way, to understand His timing, we must slow down. And we must see the “selahs” as invitations, not annoyances.
After all, Christ can do far more than all we ask or imagine by His power at work in us. If we’re too busy to see where He wants to work; we will surely forfeit the blessing of being part of it.
Pingback: Psalm 46: Selah, The Pause that Refreshes | David Bahn - Reflections