Series: Songs of Worship—Getting Real With God
Sermon: Be Still
Speaker and Writer: Elia King
Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask God for understanding through the Holy Spirit.
Read: Psalm 46:1–11 (ESV). As you read the English Standard Version, note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Some songwriters have favorite words or phrases that, whether intended or not, show up in their writing over and over. It may happen for all sorts of reasons. Maybe it’s because of the way that particular word or phrase rolls off the tongue. Maybe it’s something that preoccupies the writer’s thoughts. Some might not even realize they are using the same phrases repeatedly. For some, it might be a sign of their inexperience as they return over and over to familiar, easy-to-rhyme ideas or phrases. But even more experienced songwriters will often repeat a word, phrase, or idea, because it is a central, reoccurring theme in their life.
The word that shows up in Psalm 46 (and others, too) on multiple occasions is the word we transliterate as Selah. In this song in particular, it marks the end of a section or verse. Scholars don’t all agree on the exact translation of the word, but most agree that the definition could be any of the following: to hang, to measure, to pause, to lift up, to praise.
This idea is particularly poignant as we conclude our series this week. The Psalm we are exploring, although written long ago, should feel strangely familiar. Although the Psalmist lived in a world that was very different from ours in many ways, we might also recognize his descriptions of natural disasters, political chaos, and the stuff that occupies many of our Facebook feeds.
And yet in the middle of all of this, we are reminded to hang for just a minute. To pause. To praise. Selah. Because, the Psalmist tells us, God is still in control.
It may seem like a cliché, because we hear the words so often when times are uncertain. They have been spoken so often by people who seem insincere that we may have a hard time believing they are true. But the Psalmist reminds us anyway.
Pause. Lift up. Praise. Selah.
God is still in control.
Recalibrate: What things in your life make it difficult for you to pause?
Respond: Carve out a moment to pause. Let God know something for which you are thankful.
Research: Visit esvbible.org and use the search feature to find other uses of the word Selah. What do you notice about its use? What do you notice about the places it is used in the Psalms?