What does "Selah" mean in the Psalms.

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
It means either one of two thing - strange enough:

1) Pick up the beat.

2) Slow down the beat.

Strange huh? In hebrew we do not have a clear idea. It could mean to go faster, or it could mean to go slower in the song. Most colleagues I have read think it is to slow it down. There are a couple of professors I had that believe it woudl be better to pick it up. It is, though, agreed, that it is a musical term of sorts.


Puritan Board Professor
Here's what Strong's says:

From H5541; suspension (of music), that is, pause: - Selah.

A primitive root; to hang up, that is, weigh, or (figuratively) contemn: - tread down (under foot), value.

I've always thought of it as just saying "Stop and think about what was just said. Its important.


Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Short answer:

no one knows. Anyone who says they know (and I don't think that is what Bob was saying) is either lying or wrong.


Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the answers.

But honestly, I am rather disappointed.

I was hoping for something a bit more grandiose.

Must be my sinful nature. ;)


Puritan Board Professor
That's interesting what Matthew and Fred say about the word Selah. Learn something new (almost) every day.

Regardless of what it actually means, my mind is "programmed" to pause and think whenever I see the word. I only wish there were more Selahs sprinkled throughout the rest of the scriptures to remind me not to read too quickly over important material.


I had always been told that the most likely explanation was a pause, or perhaps a pause for musical interlude. When I read the Psalms, I always pause for a few seconds at each Selah.

Many ministers I have heard pause in the public reading of the psalms also, and don't actually say 'Selah' - they insert a pause instead.


Puritan Board Sophomore
The college ministry at my church is called "Selah."

They say it means "Pause, Reflect, Think" (that is the slogan for the ministry), but who knows...


Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:3df7396cd0][i:3df7396cd0]Originally posted by blhowes[/i:3df7396cd0]
I've always thought of it as just saying "Stop and think about what was just said. Its important." [/quote:3df7396cd0]
You are not alone in this application of it Bob. Spurgeon used this understanding of the term in his Treasury of David (commentary on the Psalms). In the first occurence of the word (Psalm 3?) he goes into how the meaning is lost so he simply uses it as a point to stop in the Psalm and reflect upon the verses just read.


Puritan Board Sophomore
It means, to consider carefully the weight,the importance,the gravity of what has been revealed to us.
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