1 Let God grant us grace and bless us;
let God make his face shine on us,
2 so that your way becomes known
so that your salvation becomes known
among all the nations.
Good Day Family,
Selah is a word that shows up, untranslated, in our biblical texts, specifically in the Book of Psalms. Not all psalms contain the word selah, but many do. Readers often don’t know what to do with it. It’s normally printed by itself, often off to the side, and in italics.
The Book of Psalms served, in part, as the hymnal of the Hebrew people. They used it in worship and often sung those words of praise, thanksgiving, lament, and consolation in community. Like most hymnals, it contains instructions on how the songs should be sung. In this case, we believe that “selah” indicated that a pause should be taken.
Sometimes, we need a pause. When we’re having a careful or difficult conversation, a pause allows our emotions to be checked. When we are climbing a steep hill, a pause lets us catch our breath. When we
encounter obstacles or difficulty, a pause enables us to regroup and reevaluate our strategy and reassess our options. It allows us to seek help or guidance when the way becomes unclear and our path uncertain. We can rebuild our strength or resolve in the pause.
But pauses can also serve to emphasize something we need not or should not rush pass. Stop and smell the roses, as the saying goes. Also, be still and know that God is God. A pause can allow us to enjoy the lingering taste of an exquisite dessert or enjoy the sweet fragrance of flowers in bloom. A pause lets us savor the fruit of our labor and revel a bit in our accomplishment.
In the passage above, the pause comes in the midst of a prayer. The ask if for God’s favor. The pause allows the psalmist to pivot to the reason for the request. We can lose sight of why we want the shining face of God to touch us if we don’t pause while asking for it to come to pass.
This Sunday, we will celebrate our graduates, from both high school and law school. Most graduations are called commencements because they mark the beginning of something new. They might also be considered a pause—an opportunity to reflect on the journey that led to this achievement and to
anticipate the journey to follow.
A pause reminds us that something is next. We’re not finished because there is more to come. On Sunday, we will take the opportunity to pause—celebrating the hard work and achievement of our graduates and offering a blessing for the road ahead of them.
Let us encourage one another. Let us love our neighbor. Let us be the church.