The book of Psalms is the hymn book of the Jews and the ancient church. There all kinds of ditties hidden in the Psalter. There are notes to the musicians about what hymn tunes to use with some Psalms and which instrument to play. There are notes about authorship. I think there are even places where the tenors noted an opportunity to sing a particularly high note. The notes at the beginning of some of the Psalms are in the Hebrew text. Psalm 142 is an example of this. “A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A Prayer.”
In some of the Psalms, the word “Selah” appears between stanzas.
Selah is Hebrew for “hang on a minute you need to chew on what was just spoken or sung.” It was a moment of silent reflection on God’s Word. It was a moment to grasp a deeper meaning. It was a time to attempt to hang on to the paradox of what went before it. It means check your soul before moving on.
If your wife ever asks you, “Honey did you eat the last of the Blue Bell ice cream?” You can respond, “Selah.” While she’s pondering that word, you can think up a good excuse for the vanishing ice cream. It is better than saying, “Huh?”
Let’s experiment with “Selah.”
One of my spiritual gurus said most of us spend our lives conjugating three verbs; to Want, to Have and to Do. “Craving, clutching, and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual-even on the religious-plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest; forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance…”
I was in Arkansas last weekend performing a wedding. We drove home on Sunday morning. I was trying to look for the signs of the times as I was driving. On the route of travel there were more people in the Dollar General stores I passed than in the churches on Sunday morning.
Arkansas played Auburn last weekend in Fayetteville. We stayed in a hotel in Rogers, Arkansas. On Friday afternoon, the Auburn Tigers showed up to stay in “our” hotel too. “Our hotel” was an Embassy Suites which has a nine-floor tall interior courtyard. Tamara called me to “come look” about 10:00 p.m. The Auburn coaches were doing room/bed checks. Tamara had never seen that before.
At 2:30 a.m. I walked out of my room and yelled, “Go Tigers.” There was no response. Seems the Auburn Tigers thought I was encouraging them.
In the Methodist church we start the new church year with Advent. Advent begins this year on December 1st. There are four Sundays in Advent. It is a season of preparing your heart to meet the Baby of Bethlehem. During Advent there are many ways we prepare our hearts to be ready for Christmas. It is a season of repentance and waiting. Advent is one of those “church things.”
The Wall Street Journal had a half page ad the other day. The Journal is advertising an Advent Wine Calendar. For only 139.99 you can receive “a delightful, delicious surprise on each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas.” The next thing you know someone will author a book on corporate management entitled, “Stewardship.”