Have you ever come across this little word while reading scripture? It often appears between verses in the book of Psalms. While by true definition, there is no definition for this word. It seems to be used to perform a punctuating function as an ancient Hebrew word of unknown meaning and uncertain grammatical status. Therefore, this word is left untranslated in scripture, as in the King James Version or left out all together as in the New International Version.
I have been taught and confirmed a few basic things over the years; first, that God never makes a mistake, second, He always has a purpose for everything He does and third God included every word in the Bible for a divine reason. Therefore, if these things are true, then why in the world would God leave a word untranslated in His very instruction book to humanity?
I believe the answer lies in this: Many have determined that the intent of the word Selah means to pause and consider, to accentuate or interrupt. Therefore, each time you read a verse and it ends with the word Selah, the intention is to interrupt the natural flow and to accentuate what was read by pausing and considering what was read. Since this word appears most prevalently in the book of Psalms, this would make the most sense. After all, the word Psalms simply means songs. In other words, the book of Psalms is a collection of song lyrics. If you ever listened to a song, the emotional impact of a song can be felt not only in the highs and lows of the melody dynamics but also in the rhythms, which include the accents and the pauses between phrases.
Itís the pauses between the lyrics that cause the accented words to sink in and provide an opportunity for the listener to reflect on what was said. During this brief moment, the mind / heart work incredibly fast to determine if they agree or disagree and even how they relate to what was said. Hence, an emotional connection is established actually during the pauses not during the communication of the words.
Now letís take this a step further. If our lives are often summed up in songs, (just think about how music is found in almost every media avenue you can come up with, television shows, movies, radio, advertising, shopping centers, elevators, even greeting cards to accentuate our experiences) and how every possible story of love, hurt, disappointment, joy etcÖ has been described in song, then we all can relate in some form or fashion. Therefore, I believe that Godís intention here for using the word Selah has a very defined purpose to interrupt us and get us to pause occasionally and consider what is being spoken (accentuated) into our lives.
However, as every song has a songwriter (I believe the songwriter in our lives is God), it also has a subject or usually someone whom the song was written about (us). While the song is communicated to the listeners of the world, the relationship between the songwriter and the subject is most often personal and not well know to the audience. Therefore, when the subject hears the song they understand the connection in a deeper way and they are able to reflect on it as no one else can. In other words, those around us can observe our lives and see how we respond to God and what He is doing in our lives, yet they are unable to know exactly the relationship we carry on with Him, as it is personal and usually private but when God speaks to us, we are moved on a deeper level.
Also, there are some things between close parties that are usually left unsaid or said in a way that donít mean anything to someone else who may be close by to hear it. This is true of an inside joke we may have with someone who experienced something with us that the rest of those present didnít so only one accented word or a phrase may cause this one person to laugh while the rest are left scratching their heads wondering what it all means.
This is why I also believe that God left this little word, Selah, untranslated because He desires a close personal relationship with each one of us. He wants to speak things into our lives that only have meaning between you and Him and are not meant for everyone else. Itís in the moments of interruptions or the times of pauses in our lives that God often accentuates or speaks these intimate things to us but we need to be encouraged to listen during these times. I also believe that itís not coincidence that every time this word is found in scripture it is capitalized. I believe this is Godís way of showing us how important of a notion this is to Him and should be to us.
To translate this word properly it will be up to you as an individual when you spend accentuated time with God in prayer communicating to the one who loves you so much that He thought you were worth dying for. During that time if you truly listen for Him, He will communicate with you in such a way that inner confidence will be developed and trust of Him will result that the rest of the world will take notice of. In addition, although life may still bring many challenges youíll be able to sing through each one as you reflect on these times and these scriptures:
ďBe still, and know that I am God:Ē (Psalm 46:10 KJV)
ďMy sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.Ē (John 10:27 KJV)
I would encourage you today after reading this blog with one simple word Ė Selah!