'Selah' - An invitation to pause in His Presence

Many times, in the Book of Psalms we read the word “Selah”. 

I recently read an article saying that this word appears over seventy times in Psalms. It stated that some Bible versions have this word in it, and some don’t. I’m not sure who decides when a word is important and when it’s not? But I think that if a word appears that many times in scripture, then surely its important? 

One passage of Scripture where ‘Selah’ is mentioned three times is in Psalm 3:1-8. Let’s read what David wrote in the Amplified version.

O LORD, how my enemies have increased! Many are rising up against me. Many are saying of me, “There is no help [no salvation] for him in God.” Selah. 

But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory [and my honor], and the One who lifts my head. With my voice I was crying to the LORD, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. 

I lay down and slept [safely]; I awakened, for the LORD sustains me. I will not be intimidated or afraid of the ten thousand who have set themselves against me all around. Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. Salvation belongs to the LORD; May Your blessing be upon Your people. Selah.

As I read this portion of scripture, I became aware that after the word ‘Selah’ was mentioned a shift happened in David. It was like a change of focus and direction came to David. Now that’s got to be important! 

David came into a time of prayer and worship burdened with the pain of what he was facing, but by the end of the time he was different. He went into the presence of His Heavenly Father in one condition but came out of it in a very different condition. What happened in that time? 

In my limited understanding, the word ‘Selah’ can be simply defined as to “pause in His presence”. Think about that. David poured out His heart to God in agony and then he paused in His presence. In that pause he waited for God to meet with him, to speak to him, to guide him. 

It would seem then that this little word ‘Selah’ is extremely important. No matter what we are facing in life; the difficulties, the traumas, the pain, the hardships etc, we need to pause in the presence of the Lord and pour our hearts out to Him. In that pause we need to allow God to speak to us, to adjust our focus, and get our eyes back onto who He is and what He is able to do. It’s in the pause moments that we need to deal with our hearts, attitudes and mindsets so that nothing gets in the way of our relationship with Him. 

Initially David is so overwhelmed by the betrayal of his son and how many were changing allegiance to Absalom. He appears to be gripped by great fear and anxiety as he sees who is against him. Hurt threatens to overwhelm he and he appears to only see who is against him and not who is for him. But then he pauses in God’s presence and God changes his focus and perspective. God gets David to take his eyes off himself and what he is facing and gets him looking to God again. He is reminded again of the God he serves. He is reminded that not everyone has left him. His God has not abandoned him. His God is with him and will fight for him. David is reminded, “if God is for Him then who can be against him.” David finds comfort, encouragement and strength in the presence of his loving Father. He pauses again and a great peace and rest comes upon him even though his circumstances haven’t changed. 

He presses into God again, but this time it’s different. This time the pause is a time of worship and adoration of His Father in whom he can trust. He now rests in peace and holds onto the truth that no matter what happens, his God is strong, his God is mighty, His God is able. He finds strength in the Lord and another change occurs. This brings a change in his countenance and all fear and anxiety begins to fade. He remembers that what God has purposed cannot be thwarted. What God has said will come to pass. He has been reminded that his salvation comes from God, and God alone. 

And then that final ‘Selah’ comes. Why do you think that is?  I think that one is for you and me! We have been given a pattern to follow through David’s great example. For as we have read the Scripture, we are reminded of God’s great love for us. We are reminded that God fights for us and that God will bring us through any number of dark nights, because He promises to never leave or forsake us. We are reminded that what God has said will happen because He is not a man that He should lie. We are reminded that our deliverance comes from the Lord. 

And so, we can pause and sing our hallelujahs to our Father in Heaven; and as we do, we’ll find a change begins to come upon us. As we place our focus on God, everything else goes out of focus as His glory is once again revealed to us.

So, let’s take time to pause in His presence. Let that be our first response to everything we face.