There’s a Hebrew word that shows up 70 times in the Bible (mostly in the Psalms) that, sadly, many English translations of the Bible have relegated to a footnote. That’s too bad because Selah is such a powerful word. Unless we want to live our lives “running just to catch myself,” we all need a take time to Selah. Look how some have translated this word:
- “Stop there and consider a little” (Matthew Henry)
- “the sacred pause” (Charles Spurgeon)
- “pause and calmly think of that” (AMP)
Whether it’s a planned exercise time or just something that frightens or excites us, our heart rate is designed by God to increase—this is how we prepare for fight-or-flight. Doctors say that one of the most vital statistics they now look at to gauge overall cardio health is heart rate recovery (HRR). Doctors want to see a significant increase in HRR after exercise, fright, or excitement.
A few of the factors that boost HRR:
- Regular, planned exercise
- Getting the proper amount of quality sleep
- Reducing stress
Respond-and-recover is part of a health-building cycle. But if we’re “running just to catch myself” all the time, this time of recovery isn’t happening. Not only are we not recovering well, but we are not properly prepared for the next time our heart needs to start beating faster.
This HRR is just as vital for us emotionally and spiritually as it is physically: We cannot always be stressed or always be “on.” We need a Selah—a time to stop and consider, a time to take a sacred pause to calmly think.
This is what David teaches us in Psalm 68. Check out the “bookend verses” where he reminds us that when God arises His enemies are scattered, and that God is awesome and He gives power and strength to His people (vv. 1, 35). And look a the middle verse where David says that when God ascends in victory He gives gifts (v. 18).
This tells me two things: (1) God is sovereignly in charge (not me or anyone else), and (2) In His love, God delights to use His sovereign power to bless His children.
The question is not IF I’m going to be confronted by difficult things or difficult people, but HOW will I recover from these confrontations?
May I suggest a 3-step process to increase your spiritual HRR?
- Acknowledge your situation—don’t try to cover it up or justify it
- Selah—pause to take a deep breath
- During that breath, redirect your thoughts from the difficulty to your awesome God (see 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:4-8)
Look at David’s example in this psalm:
|God defeats enemies (vv. 1-2)||Be glad, rejoice, sing (vv. 3-4)|
|God is a Father and Deliverer (vv. 5-7)||Selah (v. 7)|
|God is sovereignly in control (vv. 8-18)||Praise and Selah (v. 19)|
|God defeated Death (vv. 20-23)||Join the procession of worshippers (vv. 24-27)|
|God uses His strength to care for His people (vv. 28-31)||Sing praises and Selah (vv. 32-35)|
As you breathe deeply in this worship of recovery, think on this: “Your sigh can move the heart of Jehovah; your whisper can incline His ear to you; your prayer can stay His hand; your faith can move His arm.” —Charles Spurgeon
Our Selah pause leads to proper perspective, which allows us to recover more quickly. That, in turn, helps us to be better prepared for the next time we’re confronted by difficulties.
To check out the other lessons we’ve learned in our ongoing series called Selah, please check out the list I’ve compiled here.