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Selah Moments

Selah Moments

In the Bible, 74 times - 71 of them in the Psalms and three in Habakkuk - is the word “Selah.”

A brief study of that word reveals the meaning of it is uncertain. 

Some Bible scholars suggest it was related to music. An indication to those who sang, especially the Psalms, to pause the music.

Other Bible scholars suggest other meanings of the word. Meanings such as silence, interruption, accentuate, exalt, or end.

In either case, Selah usually appears when a significant statement has been made, making it a good place to take a break. To spend at least a moment or two thinking about and considering what has just been proclaimed.

For today’s message, let’s apply the idea of Selah to something we can do in our prayer lives. The challenge in this message will be for us to make use of Selah moments when we will take time to think about and consider our relationship with God.

Each of the moments is based on what Bible scholars believe might be the meanings of the word. Each one is based on various Psalms.

One Selah moment relates to the meaning to be silent. The specific challenge is to be silent and listen to the voice of God.

If you are like me, prayer is often me doing the talking. That is certainly OK. God wants us to communicate with Him. However, we also need to be willing to listen to Him. That is what is stated in Psalm 46:10.

The Psalm begins with the reminder that God is our refuge, strength, and help in times of trouble. There is also the reminder we are not to fear, no matter what happens around us.

How can we remember His blessings? How can we not fear? Psalm 46:10. “Be still [be silent] and know that God is God.”

When I read those words I remember a Christian song popular a few years ago. The chorus of the song has this - God is God, and I am not. 

It can be difficult to give up control, but we need to realize we are not in charge. God is in charge. Who better to be in charge than Him, who is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present?

Be still and know that God is God. A Selah moment. Each day let’s take a moment or two to think about and consider that statement of fact.

Another Selah moment relates to the meaning to pause. The specific challenge here is to pause from our hectic schedules so we can be refreshed in spirit.

Psalm 42:1-2. “As a hart [a male deer] longs for flowing streams [which define good quality, refreshing water], so longs my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God. For the living God.”

Do we ever get tired because of the busyness of life? That can and probably does happen. What we need at such times is refreshment. We should long for such times.

Such times can come every day. They will come if we will pause for at least a moment or two to realize He, who is God, is the source of refreshment for our souls. To realize that when we receive His refreshment, we will be able to better serve in whatever ways He calls us to serve - at home, at work, at school - and obey Him.

Long for, then pause to receive, refreshment for our souls. A Selah moment. Each day let’s take a moment or two to think about and take advantage of that opportunity.

Another Selah moment relates to the meaning to interrupt. To interrupt our days. The challenge here is to take the time to do a spiritual inventory and, if anything is found not right, to pray for cleansing.

Psalm 51:1-10 is the reference. It is based on something that happened to David when he was the king of God’s people.

Somewhat briefly, one day, as King David was walking on the roof of his house, he saw a woman bathing. He noticed she was very beautiful.

At that point, David should have turned around and gone back inside, which would have been  the end of it. Instead, he sent one of his servants to the other house to ask about the woman. That led to learning the woman’s name was Bathsheba. A woman married to one of David’s soldiers, who was off to war at that time.

Once again, it should have stopped there. Instead, David had Bathsheba brought to him. He slept with her. That night, Bathsheba conceived David’s child.

When David was told about Bathsheba being pregnant, he panicked. To try to explain the pregnancy away, he had Bathsheba’s husband brought back from his army assignment. David’s plan was to have Bathsheba and her husband Uriah be together, which would make the pregnancy seem legitimate.

However, Uriah refused a number of opportunities to be with his wife, at least partially because he would not accept benefits his fellow soldiers could not enjoy.

Eventually David came up with another plan. Uriah was sent back to war. According to David’s orders, Uriah was sent to the fiercest battle going on. Once there, all his comrades were ordered to retreat. The result was Uriah being killed.

With her husband dead, David was free to make Bathsheba his wife, which he did.

Sometime later, a prophet of God confronted David. Through a parable, the prophet was able to reveal to David how he had sinned. 

I am sure David already knew he had sinned. I suspect he had a guilty conscience. However, the prophet caused him to interrupt his life long enough to realize his sins and repent, which is what led him to write Psalm 51.

“Have mercy on me, O God,” he wrote. By the way, David was totally dependent on God’s mercy. According to Old Testament laws, sacrifices could cover all sins except two - killing another person’s soul, which sexual sin was considered to be, and the killing of another person’s body, which David committed by ordering the circumstances that led to the death of Uriah. 

Both those sins, David had committed. “Have mercy on me, O God.” That was David’s only hope. “Have mercy on me, according to Your steadfast love. According to Your mercy, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions. [The prophet had led him to face that knowledge.] My sin is ever before.” It bothered him enough to know he needed mercy.

“Against You - You only - have I sinned.” Of course, Bathsheba and Uriah were violated as well, but David had sinned against God and His law. He added, “I have done that which is evil and You, O God, are justified to do whatever You will as a sentence. You are blameless in Your judgment.”

But he asked, “Purge me. Wash me. Fill me with joy and gladness. Let me overcome my sorrow and rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins. Blot out all my iniquities. Then create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.”

Are there sins in your life, past or present, that cause you to suffer? Sins that need to be forgiven? What you need to do is repent. Admit to God what the sins are and ask for His mercy. But we know, do we not, that it can be difficult to admit and ask. The busyness of life can keep us from repenting because the busyness can help to hide our suffering even from ourselves.

Thus the need for a Selah moment of interruption. A Selah moment of taking a spiritual inventory and, if anything is found to be amiss in our behaviors or attitudes or thoughts, to beg for God’s mercy. Each day let’s take a moment or two to do that so our relationship with God can be as close and positive as He wants it to be.

Another Selah moment relates to the meaning to accentuate. To emphasize. To make prominent. The challenge in this case is to think about, consider, and be thankful for the joy of God’s provision. 

Psalm 65:9-13. Listen to the important things God provides. 

“You, O God, visit the earth and water it.” We know we need water. God is the one who provides it.

“You provide the grain.” We know we need food. God is the one who provides that.

“You crown the year with Your bounty. The meadows clothe themselves with flocks. The valleys deck themselves with grain.” That again speaks of food, which we need, which God provides.

“They [the meadows and valleys] shout and sing together for joy.” That is what we are to do during our Selah moments. We, too, are to thank God for what He gives us, being thankful as we do so.

Let’s also think about Psalm 23. Listen again to the important things God provides. Green pastures, which refers to adequate food and comfort. Still waters, which refers to adequate water and peace. Being led on paths of righteousness so we can be confident in living in ways that are best for us and honoring to God. God’s protection and healing. His help in the face of enemies, both physical and spiritual. Goodness and mercy in our earthly lives and the promise of Heaven later.

Everything we need, now and forever, God is ready and willing to provide for us. He will give those things to those - those of us - who accept Him by accepting His Son Jesus.

May we never take God’s provisions for granted. Let’s remember to express our thanks and our joy for all He does and all He gives. Each day, let’s take a Selah moment to accentuate God’s provision. To express our joyful thanks for all He does for us, His people.

Another Selah moment relates to the meaning to exalt - to speak highly of - God, proclaiming that God answers prayers.

Psalm 40:1-4. “I waited patiently for the LORD. He inclined to me and heard my cry.” 

We know of the many problems David faced during his time as king. There were many foreign nation enemies. Members of his own family were against him and threatened  him. All of which led to what he worded as crying out. One commentator refers to David expressing disquiet and a perplexed spirit, which sounds a lot like depression.

David cried out to God. He waited patiently for God to answer. Which God did. David added that God had “drawn him up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog.” Not only that, God had set David’s “feet upon a rock, making his steps secure.”

What did David plan to do about all that? He was going to sing a new song. A song of praise to God. He was going to make time and take time to exalt God for answering his prayers.

The result? This is important for us to know. Many others would and will see and fear God and also put their trust in Him. As David proclaimed, “Blessed is the man [and woman] who makes God his trust.”

Do you cry out with problems? Do you have some sad times because of your problems? Do you feel like you are in a pit? Do you feel bogged down? Do as David did. Pray for God’s help. Allow Him to lift you up from your troubles and place you on solid ground. Then take Selah moments to exalt God. To speak highly to Him and about Him. To announce to others that He answers prayers. What a wonderful evangelistic tool that is.

Then this. Take a Selah moment each evening to end the day by reflecting on God’s faithfulness, which can be based on verses 145 through 152 of Psalm 119.

That part of Psalm 119 begins with David again crying to God. What an important point that problems do not disappear. As old ones go away, new ones come. That is life.

That being the case, it was and is David’s and our privilege to keep asking for God’s help. David wrote, “With my whole heart I cry. Answer me, O Lord. I cry to You. Save me. Save me so I can observe Your testimonies.” So I can see the proofs of Your love and help. 

He continued, “I rise before dawn.” We can also do this at night to end the day. “I cry for help. I hope in Your words. my eyes are awake that I may meditate on Your promise.” 

What promise? As we have discussed, the promise of answered prayer, of God’s provision, of God’s willingness to cleanse those who repent, of the physical and spiritual refreshment He will provide those who ask, of His voice which we can and will hear if we will be still enough to hear.

Yes, problems will remain. For David, those who persecuted him “drew near.” But, he added, “The LORD is also near. All the LORD’s commandments are true. They will last forever.” May we reflect on the truth of each of those statements - that God is near, that His commandments are true, that they will last forever. May we do that at the end of each day, remembering God’s goodness. May that Selah moment help us sleep well, knowing of our security in the LORD.

Be silent and listen to the voice of God. 

Pause in the busyness of life and be refreshed. 

Interrupt yourself from time to time to do a spiritual inventory and to repent whatever is found to be wrong.

Accentuate the joy of God’s provision. Accentuate your thankfulness 

Exalt God for His answers to prayers.

End each day by reflecting on the Lord’s faithfulness.

Selah moments. What an interesting plan for prayer. A plan that can be used each day, even if the praying is done a moment or two at a time. In fact, let’s take a moment or two right now and practice applying the moments. 

Please select one Selah moment. Then spend a bit of time listening for God or asking for refreshment or doing a spiritual inventory or giving thanks for God’s provision or claiming His answers to your prayers or reflecting on His faithfulness.

After a moment or so, do the same with one other Selah moment. May this be good practice for using this as a prayer plan.

Choose one Selah moment, then another. Spend some time in prayer.

*       *       *       *       *

Today’s closing song is the chorus Be Still and Know. It reminds us God is God, which is the basis of the first Selah moment. It also reminds us of God’s healing power and the call for us to trust Him, which is needed to accomplish the other Selah moments. 

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am God.

I am the God who healeth thee.

I am the God who healeth thee.

I am the God who healeth thee.

In Thee, O God, I put my trust.

In Thee, O God, I put my trust.

In Thee, O God, I put my trust.

Let’s say them together. Be silent and listen to the voice of God. Pause and be refreshed. Interrupt for a spiritual inventory and repentance. Accentuate the joy and thankfulness for God’s provision. Exalt God for answered prayers. End each day by reflecting on the LORD’s faithfulness.

Let’s each of us take Selah moments. Amen.

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