Friday, March 15, 2013


You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.  Selah
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32: 6-7

It's that word again - Selah.  I am fascinated, mesmerized, hypnotized, obsessed... I keep seeing that word stuck at the end of lines of psalms - songs - meaning rest, pause, take a moment.  

Figurative language can really get my wheels turning.  I remember when first learning about oxymoron - thundering silence  (probably Example 101) is still one of my favorites.  It brings to mind the looming of thunderclouds.  Not the thunder or storm itself, but rather the threat.  And when I put the image together with circumstance, I envision that calm before the storm of verbal tirade, or the moment before battle... It's a concept of duality - it doesn't really matter that two things are opposite, you're going to get them both.  It's an anticipation of something coming  It's kind of a skin-tingly, hair-on-end feeling.  

I believe oxymoron goes beyond figurative language.  That duality happens all the time.  It ends up being a bottom line kind of thing...  Once upon my first marriage, my husband told me stories about his life that were kind of on the scary side.  Stories about his tours in Viet Nam, and his training, and his actions.  But the stories didn't really add up when I put them on a timeline...  So, here's the bottom line. If his stories were true, then he was a scary man - if his stories weren't true, if he had made them up, then he was a scary man.  In the end, it didn't matter which was truth; the result was the same.

Selah feels like a thundering silence.  Imagine a drum solo without the time between beats, waves on the ocean without the receding water, breathing in without breathing out.  When I look it up - selah means a musical mark like a rest, a word expressing think on it, or amen, or forever.  Apparently the roots of the word are arguable - from the Greek for always or from the Hebrew to hang as in to measure/weigh by hanging.  Sometimes it's like someone saying period after a particularly strong point in an argument.  Sometimes it's like that rest you need after doing a wind sprint - catch your breath and get ready to go again.  My favorite interpretation, however, comes from Bullinger, who believes selah to be a conjunction between two contrasting passages - a cause/effect relationship.  I like that.  It's an oxymoron of life.  It's the bottom line when it doesn't matter which truth you choose - the end result is the same.

So, what about this selah - the one between verses six and seven in Psalm 32?  Here's the pow.  This selah is all of the above.  David just finished telling us about the nature of God with us.  He is our strength and protector.  He is our hiding place and our deliverer.  Selah - rest on this, and Amen, period, the end.  But David isn't done - here's where the cool part of selah comes in - the oxymoron part.  The next verse changes person.  It's either God instructing David (God as 'I'), or it's David taking it upon himself to instruct others (David as 'I').  There's a world of lessons in that transition...  God will care for and instruct us or because God has delivered and protected and cared for us, it is up to us to take that out into the world - to others.  The pow?  It doesn't matter which way you go - the bottom line is the same.  The teaching and counseling will happen.  It's kind of a skin-tingly, hair-on-end feeling of anticipation.  Selah!

The link at the top is to a song by the group Selah - one of my favorite groups.  It seemed appropriate.

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