"...I said to myself, ' I will confess my rebellion to the Lord. And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone! Selah* " Psalm 31:5b
Do you ever follow those little asterisks in your bible down to the subtext? A few weeks ago, I did this for the word "Selah." I've been doing some research and what I've read has been interesting. (see below for a summary)
In the end, for me the action the word calls us to when reading is key! Similar to a musical rest in a piece of music which causes dramatic pause, I understand "Selah" as a moment of silent reflection. In light of that, when I read a section of scripture and get to this word, I pause my reading and meditate on it. I think more deeply about what the writer has just written, how I can relate, and what it means in my own life.
Try it! It can be powerful if you dig deep. Here are just a few that you can practice reading, pausing, and meditating on this morning.
- For you [God] are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. Selah - Psalm 32: 7
- So many are saying, 'God will never rescue him!'...I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. Selah - Psalm 3:2 & 4
- ...Each of us is but a breath. Selah - Psalm 39:11
- Everything on earth will worship you; they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs. Selah - Psalm 66:4
"Selah (//; Hebrew: סֶלָה, also transliterated as selāh) is a word used seventy-four times in the Hebrew Bible—seventy-one times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk. The meaning of the word is not known, though various interpretations are given below. (It should not be confused with the Hebrew word sela‘ (Hebrew: סֶלַע) which means "rock".) It is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like "stop and listen." Selah can also be used to indicate that there is to be a musical interlude at that point in the Psalm. The Amplified Bible translates selah as "pause, and think of that." It can also be interpreted as a form of underlining in preparation for the next paragraph.
At least some of the Psalms were sung accompanied by musical instruments and there are references to this in many chapters. Thirty-one of the thirty-nine psalms with the caption "To the choir-master" include the word selah. Selah may indicate a break in the song whose purpose is similar to that of Amen (Hebrew: "so be it") in that it stresses the truth and importance of the preceding passage; this interpretation is consistent with the meaning of the Semitic root ṣ-l-ḥ also reflected in Arabic cognate salih (variously "valid" [in the logical sense of "truth-preserving"], "honest," and "righteous"). Alternatively, selah may mean "forever," as it does in some places in the liturgy (notably the second to last blessing of theAmidah). Another interpretation claims that selah comes from the primary Hebrew root word salah (סָלָה) which means "to hang," and by implication to measure (weigh)". - Wiki