Thursday, January 28, 2016

Spiritual Journey Thursday - Selah

For the next month or so on Thursdays, a group of bloggers will be posting about the spiritual connections to their 2016 OLW.  This week's word, "Selah", is Michelle Haseltine's at One Grateful Teacher.

Interested in other bloggers' take on this word?  Stop in at Holly Mueller's site, Read, Write, Think and check out the Linky!

Psalm 62: 7-8

"All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee;
they shall sing to thy name. Selah."  
Psalm 66:4

My first thought was “Sure, I know what Selah means - pause, be still, meditate on that.”  I’ve heard it and read it.  But then I decided to look it up.  And to my surprise, the origin and meaning of the word “Selah” has never quite been established.
I found:
  • It could be the Hebrew word calah, meaning to measure or weigh, or valued.
  • It could be derived from two Hebrew words, s-lah and s-lal meaning to praise and to lift up.
  • Its third derivation could be from salah, meaning to pause, as in music.
  • Given the unknowns, it is perhaps good to combine the three meanings.  Stop/pause, weigh the meaning of what you have just read or heard in God’s Word, and then lift up praises to the Lord.*
There are many times when I feel the need to “Selah”.  Not the word spoken, but the word as a verb, an action, a “what I am doing”.  Amen is an agreement word.  Selah is an action or a directive.  I best understand it when I think of it as the words in parenthesis that are stage directions in a play.  They aren't to be so much said as done.

John: Good evening! (bow to the audience, turn, then laugh)
Psalms: "...they shall sing to thy name" (Selah = pause, weigh and give praises)

In the Psalms, we are directed to take a moment and weigh the import of what we have just read: measure it, compare it, note its value; then praise Him.  Not just say “Praise God”.  Praise Him with words; thank Him for your understanding, the words, the life, the salvation - whatever you have thought about after that pause and consideration of the words.

Selah is so much more than a word.  It is a to-do list, a bit of nudging, a way of responding.  A way of being present in the Word and the World.

I often have to take a moment and think about the magnitude, the beauty and the meaning of things in daily life.  These moments can so easily slip away.  Writing helps me do that.  Writing MAKES me do that.

I have to be reminded to selah when things are not going well - are worrisome, painful, or hurtful.  In our lowest times we especially need to take that breath, wait and remember the faith that sustains us.

"Selah" reminds me of how we teach young children to think about what they've just done wrong.  When they have gone awry, when they are throwing a fit, when they just need some "time out"... after a "time out", the calming down, what do we ask them?
"What problem were you trying to solve?"
"Did that (worry, crying, stomping, fighting) help?
"What might you do next time instead?"
or the old "Count to ten next time." (or higher, if needed!)

Perhaps "time out" or "counting to ten" should be renamed "Selah"!  I think I like that!
I may mention that to my daughter.  Wouldn't it be great to hear my 4 year old grandson say, "I need to selah."!


What have you just been given -
A word, a thought, a song?
Has He just made your heart light,
Has he forgiven a wrong?

Have God’s Words made a difference?
Pause, hold them in your heart;
Weigh all the mercies granted,
And then let His praises start.

Praise him daily for blessings,
Sing out His Holy name;
Bring to Him gifts of obedience
Accept His cleansing of shame.

Thank Him for patience and guidance
For giving you wisdom and sight;
Know that our Lord up in Glory
Awaits your sweet “Selah” tonight.

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits,
even the God of our salvation. Selah."  
Psalm 68:19



  1. Donna, I like the way you related selah to how we teach children to stop and think about their behavior. I agree with you that all of us would benefit from having an occasional time out. Lovely poem!

  2. Your post has stopped me--literally and figuratively. You have packed a great deal of wisdom into poetry and prose. I thank you for the fullness of your reflection. I especially related to the time-out connection. I know I'll keep thinking about that! Every blessing! Selah.

  3. Just when I thought we'd squeezed out all the meanings from this wonderfully juicy word, you added one more! To measure, weigh, value. I love those meanings, too!! I noticed my OLW in one of your lines (WAIT): "In our lowest times we especially need to take that breath, wait and remember the faith that sustains us." Remember faith....SELAH!

  4. I like thinking of this word as a verb. And in response to your note on my blog, I'm so glad that winter swap became a part of your peace process. Let's selah that!

  5. Donna, I love how you tied this to time out! That's exactly what it is. :) Thank you! xo

  6. Lovely, Linda! I really like this sentence; "Selah is so much more than a word. It is a to-do list, a bit of nudging, a way of responding. A way of being present in the Word and the World."

    It reminds me of a quote I put on my photography blog: "Learn to pause … or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you." D. King. O guess I could ay that when I'm out for a walk, my camera is my "selah" tool.


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