There is a Hebrew word used in scripture that is very intriguing to me. It appears 74 times in the Old Testament, mostly in Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk. It’s a musical term that means “suspension of music, pause.” It is placed in music to allow for time to consider what preceded it. The listener can contemplate the meaning of the passage and allow the message to settle in them before the music resumes.
Ironically, as I “paused” to consider the meaning of this word a couple of interesting things came to mind. The first application of this idea is “margin.” My pastor, Bobby Gourley, introduced this term to me early in his tenure at Christ Chapel. It means to leave space in your life for the Lord to work. Do not fill your every waking moment with activity. Do not spend all the money you make. Always leave room for the Lord to direct you in ways to be a blessing to others.
This is why God implemented the Sabbath. It was designed to force Israel to rest. They were to spend the day in worship and contemplation on their Creator. When Jesus came and fulfilled every part of the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath, we received complete liberty; spirit, soul, and body. Jesus had become our Sabbath. We are now to find our rest in Him.
Most have heard this before. Even so, it is good to be reminded of these things from time to time.
The second thing that came to mind when I was considering the word Selah is not as familiar. There is a not-so-common marking in music known as a Grand Pause. It appears as G.P. in a musical score. This is different than the fermata (), which also means “pause.” The fermata is only held for a short time, the length of which is implied by the composer of the piece. The G.P. however leaves the amount of time totally to the discretion of the conductor.
As a follower of Jesus, we are to live our life in a Grand Pause; a time under the direct control of the Conductor, the Holy Spirit. The entire orchestra and singers, if any, would wait on the signal of the Conductor before acting. So, too, we as followers of Him.
The G.P. might come at any place in the musical score. Regardless of the passage previously played, or the music yet to be played, everything comes to a complete halt until the conductor allows things to continue.
The next time you hear Selah or see it in print I hope it serves as a reminder to keep margin in your life. Leave room, always, for the Holy Spirit to direct your actions. Whether it is a fermata or a G.P., be prepared to wait on the Conductor’s cue to move forward. Doing so will assure the music He is attempting to make in your life will be exactly as composed. Selah!