Tags : :
Its etymology and precise meaning are unknown. This word occurs seventy-one times in thirty-nine of the Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk 3. It is found at the end of Psalms 3, 24, and 46, and in most other cases at the end of a verse, the exceptions being Psalms 55:19, 57:3, and Hab. 3:3, 9.
The significance of this term was apparently not known even by ancient Biblical commentators. This can be seen by the variety of renderings given to it. The Septuagint, Symmachus, and Theodotion translate διάψαλμα — a word as enigmatical in Greek as is "Selah" in Hebrew. The Hexapla simply transliterates σελ. Aquila, Jerome, and the Targum translate it as "always". According to Hippolytus (De Lagarde, "Novæ Psalterii Græci Editionis Specimen" 10), the Greek term διάψαλμα signified a change in rhythm or melody at the places marked by the term, or a change in thought and theme. Against this explanation Baethgen ("Psalmen," p. 15, 1st ed. Göttingen, 1892) notes that Selah also occurs at the end of some psalms.
There is an alternate interpretation: Selah, [celah], is from the primary Hebrew root word [calah] which means 'to hang,' and by implication to measure (weigh). This is readily understood because in Biblical history, money, food and other valuables were 'weighed' by hanging or suspending them on a type of balance (the equivalent of our measuring scale) to determine their value. We find an example of this word [calah] as it is literally translated 'valued,' in the book of Job, indicating that which is measured.
"It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire."
The word translated valued is the exact same Hebrew word [calah], and it quite obviously means "measured against." In this context, God is telling us that wisdom "cannot be measured against the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire." Here the translation 'valued' is to illustrate the measuring of something for an exchange. i.e. wisdom cannot be measured with the gold of Ophir. It is beyond that value. In verse nineteen we see this very same illustration again.
"The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold."
Again, this word translated valued is the Hebrew word [calah] meaning measured. This passage is declaring of wisdom that, "The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither can it be measured against pure gold." In other words, it is beyond comparison or measuring against. And by these type examples of comparing scripture with scripture, noting a word's context, and how it relates to other words, we can very easily begin to see the true meaning of words. And in this context, this means "measured" against something else, illustrating that wisdom cannot be measured, not even with pure gold. What does Selah Mean So seeing that this Hebrew word [calah] means to 'measure,' as in weighing something in the balances, we better understand how the word Selah [celah], which is derived from it, is illustrating that we should measure or value what has been said. In other words, just as we would say today, the diplomat should, "weigh what he says carefully." Or if we were to say that, "The lawyer measured his words to the Jury." Or again, if we said, "we should consider the Professor's words wisely." All those sentences are speaking of the very same thing. And the word [celah] is used in this very same way. It is an illustration that we should 'measure' or value carefully what has just been said. And you may not realize this (because it's so seldom brought to light), but it is not only in the Psalms and Habakkuk, it is also a word which is used in the lamentations of Jerusalem. And of course, it is 'hardly' illustrating a musical stop or poetic notation there.
"The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a winepress."
The four words translated 'hath trodden under foot' is actually the very same Hebrew word Selah [celah]. Here in the lamentations or mourning of Jerusalem, God is illustrating that the Lord has "measured" or weighed all the mighty men in the midst of her. In other words, it is an illustration that they were weighed in the balances, and found wanting (Daniel 5:27), thus their judgement is required. So again we see the word is illustrating measured. And just so that there is no confusion, note carefully that the second part of that verse where it says the Lord hath "trodden [darak] the virgin," is an entirely different word, and indeed means to tred. No doubt in this context, this is why it was thought the word [celah] should also be translated trodden. What does Selah Mean As we know, this word is extensively used in the Psalms. And the reason is because the psalms are a prayer book, divinely-inspired songs of the people of Israel, often messianic, allegorical, and historically parabolic. That is to say, history, replete with spiritual meanings. The Selah is there to signal the believer to 'measure' carefully the meaning of what has been said. i.e., here is wisdom, reflect and understand. Just as the Hebrew word Amen [amen] is an exclamation of confidence or truth and certainty of what has been said, so Selah [celah], is an exclamation that we should measure and reflect upon what has been said.
"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah."
"Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah."
"They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah."
"Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah."
"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,
Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah."
Whether of urging our meditation upon our sinfulness, declaring God is our refuge, or speaking in 'types' about Christ, this word is an exhortation for us to be wise and measure or weigh what has been said that we understand. It is used in the Psalms seventy-three times, and is also used in Habakkuk three times. Each time it is illustrating that we should measure wisely or 'weigh' solemnly what is said.
"Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah."
This is not a passage to pass over lightly as just a simple narrative. Here is wisdom and spiritual understanding. Whenever we see this word in scripture, we should understand that the Lord is exhorting us to 'weigh' these things thoughtfully, and to reflect and consider in good sense judgment