And the Whole World Paused
There is an interesting word nestled in the Old Testament, “Selah.” Have you ever noticed it? Do you understand its meaning? While its actual meaning is not absolutely clear, most biblical scholars agree that the simple word indicates a pause in Scripture, an interlude between stanzas in a psalm, or a musical marker for silence. The word appears 74 times in the Hebrew Bible, 71 times in the Book of Psalms and three times in the Book of Habakkuk. There have been a few but not many contemporary uses of the word “Selah” in literature to end articles and letters, encouraging readers to “pause and consider.” Though mostly unfamiliar, the word communicates a significant message.
“Selah” takes on new significance in 2020 during the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. In an attempt to stop the rapid spread of the vicious virus, stay-at-home orders have been issued by the governments of more than 170 different countries. Schools are closed. Offices are empty. Spots are cancelled. Famous sites are vacant. Streets are clear. Major cities look like ghost-towns. Families, churches, companies, and organizations are no longer gathering, their work has been halted or adapted. Literally, the whole world has been forced to pause. While we CANNOT control the circumstances, we CAN determine how we respond to our isolation and free time.
What should Christians do during this pause? Several verses followed by “Selah” in the Psalms can teach us how to live in times of interruption and in the days to come.
1. Focus on the Lord (Ps. 3:4). Keep your eyes on Jesus in the midst of the chaos. Don’t get distracted or discouraged, turn to Him continually.
2. Reflect on His truths (Ps. 3:8). Turn to the Bible for truth not to speculation on television or in social media. Read and study His Word.
3. Enjoy His presence (Ps. 4:4; 46:11; 143:6). Use your “bonus” hours to spend time with the Lord. Pray, listen, meditate as you practice His presence.
4. Receive His strength (Ps. 21:2). Depend on God not yourself or others to sustain you when you feel weak or helpless. He is our hope and strength.
5. Follow His direction (Ps. 24:6). Obey His commands and instruction even when you do not fully understand His plans. Trust and obey
6. Seek His forgiveness (Ps. 32:5; 85:2). Confess your sin to Him and accept His unconditional love. And, while He is forgiving you, try to forgive others who have hurt you.
7. Praise His name (Ps. 44:8; 66:4). Give God the glory and honor in your good days and bad. Express your gratitude for His amazing works.
8. Declare His righteousness (Ps. 50:6). Talk about the goodness of the Lord, His holy character, and His perfect behavior. Keep God in your everyday conversations.
9. Trust in the shelter of His wings (Ps. 61:4; 62:8). When your finances and circumstances are shaken, curl up in the loving arms of Jesus and let Him comfort you. Abide in His protection and depend on His provision.
10. Acknowledge His blessings (Ps. 68:19). Notice all the many things, big and small, that the Lord has done for you out of His love and grace not your merit or works.
11. Dwell in His house (Ps. 84:4). Find ways to be with Him and with your family of faith even when you cannot go to church. Gathering with other believers on the internet or telephone will strengthen you spiritually.
12. Seek His guidance (Ps. 84:8). Ask the Lord to give you clear directions and perfect guidance as you make important decisions and live a godly life.
One of the first instances of “Selah” in the Bible appears at the end of this statement: “Salvation belongs to the Lord, Your blessing is upon Your people” (Ps. 3:8). Only God can save us from our sins, and only God can save us from the terrible consequences of Covid-19. His salvation is available to all, and His blessing is on His people. Accept Him by faith and receive His precious provisions. Trust those truths today and tomorrow.
So, how will YOU use your Selah, this unprecedented pause? I will listen to His voice, learn from His Word, and live for His glory. That is my renewed commitment not just while I am forced to stay-at-home due to the pandemic. I will recommit each day to some silence and pause so that I can hear from the Lord, understand His teachings, and follow His guidance.