One of my reflection moments yesterday was from a book that a good friend gave me when I started my current role. The book is The President’s Devotional by Joshua Dubois and it is a series of daily devotional readings that the author wrote for President Obama. I am following it through each day this year and recommend it as a spiritual punctuation mark in the day.
Today’s reflection was on an obscure word that occurs in the Old Testament: Selah. It mostly appears in the Psalms but the problem is that nobody knows for sure what it means. Some think it means ‘pause’ or ‘meditate on this’. Others suggest that it means ‘listen to this’ – preceding an instrumental break (given that the psalms were meant to be sung). There are other suggestions too (you can look them up online).
But I quite like the idea that Selah is a mystery word. I like the idea that it could mean anything. It could be like ‘tadaaa!’ denoting a fanfare. Or it could be something really mundane such as a musical notation telling the singers to sing quietly (sorry to musicians for whom no notation is mundane). And I like the idea that we don’t know what it means. I am comfortable with the idea that it is a lost word.
Why am I happy with that foggy unenlightenment? It reminds me that I don’t know everything about God. As a Minister, having spent four years in a theological college, and having spent 20 years studying and exploring the Bible, it is sometimes tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that I know it all. I have God in a box. I have it sussed.
Selah reminds me that I don’t know it all. Indeed I know very little. But I know enough. I know that God loves me. I know that in Jesus God has made himself knowable – he gives me a glimpse of what God is like (enough to know I want to know him), has dealt with all that separates me from him and invites me to follow him. And I know that his Spirit is within me to help me. I have an eternity ahead of me to learn the rest!
Be blessed, be a blessing. Selah