Selah Remembered

If you’ve visted here very often you know that I have a category on Vibrance called Selah. And you know that at the end of my entries, I sometimes write, “Think about it ”  or “Selah”.



Recently my youngest sister, Jonell, reminded me of something that happened an our house when I was in high school and she was in third grade.




One Saturday night before bed, she was lying on the living room floor with her Bible and her lesson book, working on her Sunday School lesson. She had just read a Psalm and at the end of it she read “Selah!”




About that time I came running down the stairs to get something. As I walked through the living room she asked, “Phil, what does Selah mean?”





I replied, “Think about it!” and kept going. About five minutes later I came back through on my way upstairs. She stopped me and said, “Phil, I’ve been thinking about it, and I still don’t know what it means.”




She tells me that I smiled and said, “No – the word Selah means ‘think about it’ . . . so you are supposed to think about the Psalm you just read and think about what it means.”


She still smiles whenever she finds the word Selah at the end of a Psalm, but she’s never forgotten what it means!






Think about it—








6 Replies to “Selah Remembered”

  1. Sharla

    I was picturing that interaction….how funny.

    Your comments have been true nourishment to many that I know read but don’t comment. I seriously got chills seeing how you took it to a whole new level of thinking. It’s been fruitful.


  2. Phil

    Shar: This is a great place to share; I’m grateful for the sense of community that’s building. Real people with real lives loving and serving a very real and personal God. Can’t beat that!

    Diana: Great to see you here! Watch for more from Jonell here in the future; I asked her this week if she’d contribute here and she agreed. She and her husband Rick live in northern Michigan, she’s a musician at their church, was the church secretary for several years, and survived growing up with me as her older brother. (I wasn’t always this nice). I think you all will appreciate her perspective and insights.

  3. diana

    Hey that is so cool. I think younger sisters always have to be commended for surviving their older siblings LOL. I look forward to reading more from Jonell 🙂

  4. Jonell

    Wow, I go away for a day and look what happens to what I shared with Phil. Four responses … what fun! And what a joy to know that what I shared helped you guys!

    OBTW – Phil was a great brother while I was growing up!


  5. Phil

    I was asked offline today how I came to my definition of the word Selah and thought it might help to share those same thoughts here to shed additional light on how I look at things, the word Selah in particular.

    I pretty much skipped over the word Selah until one summer when I and some cousins of mine went to a Youth Convention in Muskegon, Michigan. Dr. Al Smith (song-writer, arranger and a warm-as-can-be personality and song-leader) led the services all week, teaching us a lot as we went along, about what music was supposed to DO at church.

    I remember him explaining that the offertory is the closest thing we have these days to “Selah”. It’s instrumental. It’s often contemplative, though not always. He impressed on us it isn’t to day-dream, it isn’t for Mom to finish her grocery-list or us to double-check that we really have finished all our homework for the next day. We’d BETTER be thinking about the Lord’s goodness to us during those times.

    I’ve heard it since, but Big Al Smith was the first I heard say that every use of the word Selah in the Psalms is preceded by a concept worth serious thought.

    That’s the summer I adopted my short definition for the word Selah: “Think about it.”

    If you like the more definitive works and definitions, in his Bible Cyclopedia, Critical and Expository (1907), A.R. Faucett explains it this way:
    Selah. Seventy-one times in the Psalms, three times in Habakkuk. From Shelah, “rest”. A music mark denoting a pause, during which the singers ceased to sing and only the instruments were heard.
    LXX. (Septuagint) diapsalma, a break in the psalm introduced where the sense requires a rest. It is a call to calm reflection on the preceding words, hence in Ps. ix.16 it follows higgaion, “meditation”.
    The selah reminds us that the psalm requires a peaceful and meditative soul which can apprehend what the Holy Spirit propounds.
    …to lift up a musical forte (loud), the piano (soft) singing then ceasing, and the instruments alone playing with the execution an interlude after sentences of peculiar importance so as to emphasize them.

    From this I gather one could say “I’ll stop singing now, you keep thinking” 🙂


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