Sunday, October 9, 2016

Psalm 140: Selah, Say Wha?

Psalm 140 is a very typical psalm in many respects.  It is a psalm of David, who is credited with 73 psalms, just under half the total of 150.  It is slightly briefer than most, containing only thirteen verses; the average psalm consists of about sixteen verses.  Its main focus is on God's deliverance from one's evil enemies, a frequent theme found among the psalms.  In addition, Psalm 140 contains three instances of the word "Selah."
Selah?  What's that?  It's actually an untranslatable term that appears frequently in the book of Psalms.  Seventy-one times we find it there, along with three instances in the book of Habakkuk.

There are many theories regarding what "selah" could mean.  It has been suggested that it connotes a term of agreement with the psalm, kind of like an "Amen!" called out in church.  It could have the meaning of "forever" to add weight and dimension to a psalm.  Several ancient translators, who struggled with its interpretation even back then, went with "always."

The majority opinion, however, is that it is a musical term related to how the ancient psalms were sung.  In this view, "selah" is a choral direction, perhaps calling for a pause between stanzas to allow the worshiping congregation to reflect on the preceding verse.  It might indicate that a musical interlude ought to take place here to transition from one thought in the psalm to the next.

Whatever the case may be, "selah" is something you should be aware of as a mysterious ingredient in many of the psalms.  What do you think it means?

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