We started the year at Thrive with a series on Quitting. Although it was really about giving up something destructive so that we can accept the bigger, better, healthier and more exciting things that God has in store for us.
One week we focused on the need to Quit Hurrying. Why? Because hurry strips our life of joy and peace. This naturally happens when we are in a hurried state because both joy and peace require us to be fully present, not thinking about the future, or passing through one moment to quickly get to the next. Joy and peace just aren’t compatible with hurry.
There is a word used regularly in the Hebrew poetry and songs of the Old Testament. It’s the word ‘Selah’.
The exact translation (from the original Hebrew) is not exactly known, but scholars have narrowed it down to a few likely possibilities. It likely means, ‘pause and reflect’, ‘stop and give thanks’ or ‘break and consider the weight’.
Now consider that this curious word is often positioned in between significant statements in these songs or poems. (Our modern bible generally have these statements in their own verses and so Selah appears in between verses).
Why would a poem, or a song need a break or a pause, or to come to a stop in the middle of it?
Maybe the authors actually do want us to stop, pause or break every now and then.
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.
This Psalmist was on a roll. Why break now? It was going so well.
Maybe there is something to this.
So, what if we trust the Psalmist and actually take Selah seriously? Lets pause and reflect on this verse, lets stop and give thanks. If any part of you says, “Yes” to this passage then it is probably worth stopping and meditating on.
Easy right. Yet so refreshing. So powerful, if we allow it to be.
Why pause? Because it helps us realize the extent of what we are declaring. These aren’t words to be skimmed over, it is praise to the one whom the earth bows down before. It’s worth stopping and considering that.
Or what about something more personal?
“When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
There it is again. Twice in a couple of verses. The Psalmist (most likely David here) is really trying to draw attention to his words.
If we could break it down we could almost say, the first two verses are an acknowledgement of our day to day reality. We don’t live all the ways that God wants for us and it causes us to feel weary and run down because we are living against his intended purposes. I need to Stop and Consider the weight of my actions through the day. Are my actions burdening me? Am I living in a way that is in conflict with God and his kingdom?
There is something enlightening about stopping, if only for a moment, at the end of the day and considering what has gone on over that time.
David then moves into an acknowledgement. As though he is realizing that when he comes clean with God, when he acknowledges his wrongdoing and re-aligns himself, there is forgiveness. Maybe I should stop and give thanks for that. Nothing is held against me, there is no guilt. Tomorrow is a fresh start…
This isn’t meant to be a ritual or even a discipline. It is simply a way for us to slow down the hurry. To take a breath and allow God to actually speak through his word into our being.
Give it a go.
Grace and Peace,