Monday, August 11, 2008

Selah

Selah -- Pause, crescendo, or musical interlude.

For a number of years, mostly in my 20's, I followed a rigorous Bible reading schedule. It was one I had devised myself, and included a feature gleaned from someone's observation that there are 31 chapters of Proverbs -- perfect for reading one chapter a day and thus re-reading all of Proverbs every month. He also observed that there are 150 Psalms, thus reading 5 a day would get through all of them in a month. God must have intended it so! I followed this practice with religious zeal for a number of years.

Stand in awe, and sin not: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah
-- Psalms 4:4

My New American Standard Bible had lots of annotations, and the one I remember most is the explanation of Selah, a mysterious word that appears in many of the Psalms. According to these scholars, in a public recitation of the Psalms the selah denotes an intended "pause, crescendo or musical interlude."

I don't read the Bible much anymore, but its words have had a lasting influence on me.
They pop up at the oddest times. I can remember years ago, my wife quietly talking to me during the sermon, whereupon I responded, "Let the women keep silent in church." (1 Cor 14:34) To my then-surprise, she did not appreciate this scholarly rebuke.

Lately I've been feeling a little bad about not having updated my blog in a week. It's not that I've run out of things to say, just that I didn't feel the same urgency to say them.

And then this morning it came to me. Selah. A pause, crescendo or musical interlude.

I've paused, to take stock, look around, and reflect on what's been said.

A crescendo of events in my personal life has taken place.

And a musical interlude is often a welcome alternative to speech.

Selah.

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