Selah. A word used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible – 71 of these are in the Psalms. We find it used three times in Psalm 46 – possibly marking the end of each stanza or thought in this Psalm.
So, what does Selah mean? Many believe it is a musical interlude, a pause, a rest. I like the way the Amplified Bible states it – “pause, and calmly think of that.” We struggle day-by-day facing obstacles, fears, and turmoil. If we listen to the news, it is enough to “scare us to death.” Diseases, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, floods, wars, and the list can go on and on are happening in the world right around us, and to some reading this – to you. The writer of this Psalm tells that “we will not be afraid,” according to verse 2.
How can he say this? How can we know peace in a world that seems so out of control? The Psalmist begins by telling us “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who is always found in times of trouble.” God is our Peace. God is in control. The answer to finding peace is not complicated. Selah. Pause. Rest easy. We should never expect life to make sense. We should not fear because surprises occur. Life is full of surprises, shocks, and senselessness. However, remember that nothing takes God by surprise.
Consider the three stanzas in this Psalm. First, even if the whole world should crumble, we can find Selah (verses 1 – 3) because God is our refuge. Then, even through floods and nations collapsing, we can find Selah (verses 4 – 7) because God is our stronghold. Finally, the Psalmist invites us to witness the works of God – He is exalted, with us, and the Stronghold.
Horatio Spafford in 1871 lost most of his investments in the great Chicago Fire. He sent his wife and daughters for some much-needed rest and recovery. The ship they were on sank, and all of his daughters drowned. He boarded a ship to go to his wife’s grieving side in England. As the ship went past the spot where this had happened, he went on deck, then he went back to his cabin and penned the words that would become a well-beloved hymn during crisis – “It is Well With My Soul.” This reminds us to settle, to pause, and to find rest in God. God our Refuge, our Stronghold, our Selah.