Recently, I have had the privilege to help a young friend learn to drive. One day, as we sat at a traffic light, I shared with her my most important driving insight.
I told her she had to develop the “one-two-three” mentality for entering an intersection. After the light turns green and before you move forward, I urged her to literally tap out on the steering wheel a three second pause. Only after that pause could she safely enter the intersection. Hopefully, that pause moment will save her from all the crazy drivers that make a game out of running red lights.
Truth is, pausing and thinking is a broader Biblical principle. It is littered all over the book of Psalms. You will see it in the margin of any number of those “songs.” It is the word “selah.” It literally means to pause and think.
Throughout the 150 psalms, the various writers made marginal notes to help the original singers (and all us readers) understand the deeper meaning of that song/psalm. From time to time, they would scribble in the margins the word “selah.” They were hoping that we might slow down a bit and reflect on the context or content and really understand the important truth being shared.
As I have been doing a deeper dive through the Psalms this summer, I can’t help but note how often that instruction appears. And every time the scriptures say “selah,” they are encouraging me to “Slow down. Take a minute. Think about this truth. Let it marinate a bit before you go on reading.”
That is great advice for all of us. Regardless of what reading plan you may use in your personal devotional time, remember to stop and pause every now and again. Take a moment to note who the author is. Determine his intent. What did he want the original audience to understand? What commandment do you need to obey? How can you apply His encouragement?
Pause and let a thought, a commandment, a bit of encouragement or a conviction settle in your heart. As you pause and think, that word from the Lord has a moment to bury itself in your heart. There are no “brownie points” for the volume of scripture that we read; application is the goal.
So, this week, maybe you and I can write a few “selahs” in our own Bibles. Let’s use them as a stop light. Let’s take a moment and think about that passage. Let’s pause long enough and allow the Holy Spirit to use the Biblical insight in our lives.
Selah is the word for the week!