When God Tells You to Shut Up

Would a loving God ever tell His people to “shut up and listen”? Well, that’s basically the meaning of a word that occurs 74 times in the Bible.

Although scholars aren’t certain the precise meaning of the word Selah, the best suggestions are “pause and think about it” or “stop and listen.” The Hebrew word is generally used in the context of songs or poetry, and it seems to denote a time to stop singing and let the words sink in.

Why does God have to tell us 74 times to be quiet and ponder what we’ve heard? Probably because listening is so hard for us! Well, at least it’s hard for me. Maybe you’ve mastered the art of silence, but I know I haven’t.

Often I mindlessly read the Scriptures, sing worship songs, or listen to sermons. The words don’t sink in, because I’ve never paused to meditate on what they really mean.

The Selah commandment seems harder in the 21st century than it has ever been before. We are so time-conscious that we don’t want to waste even a second to stop and listen…ponder…reflect.

Life has become an endless stream of activity, conversation, and noise. No time to pause and take it all in. Never a moment to consider what it all means. No, we’re wired for sound every waking moment.

Yet Selah was never meant to be an option. God commands us to take Selah moments to pause and reflect on who He is and what He is saying to us.

In the course of just 11 verses, Psalm 46 tells us three times to Selah. Verse 10 famously puts Selah in context: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

When was the last time you quieted your heart enough to know—to really know—that He is God, and that He will ultimately be exalted in all the earth? What a life-changing habit that would be.

Other translations of “be still” have been offered: cease striving…let go…relax. Can you think of anything more therapeutic than a good dose of Selah every day? I can’t.

So I encourage you to take time to Selah today. It will surely change your life.

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