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What does Selah mean?

Selah

Selah is a Hebrew word written in English letters (transliterated) in our Bibles. Selah probably refers to an instruction to musicians, as it is most often found in the Psalms and one chapter in Habakkuk.

What does Selah mean?

Remember, no one knows exactly what Selah means, however, Bible scholars say it could mean the following:

  • A pause or break at the end of a thought or subject
  • A filler to make the melody and line lengths correspond.
  • Selah could also mean “forever” or “it is so.”

Some think Selah is a notation indicating that the person reading the Psalm should pause to allow the audience to respond or repeat the previous statement for emphasis and meditation. Still others think it is a musical notation like “forte” (play loud) or “allegro” (play fast) you often see printed in musical scores.

Selah in the Bible?

  • The Psalms are poems and songs. Selah appears 71 times in Psalms.
  • Selah appears in 79% of the Psalms that carry the title “For the director of music.” (That is 31 of the 39 Psalms with this title.)
  • Chapter 3 of Habakkuk contains both a prayer and a song. Selah appears in the prayer three times, each time marking a kind of division in the thoughts of the prayer. Selah doesn’t appear in the song, but at the end of the chapter is the same title: “To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.”

Selah today

  • If you feel like thinking about or meditating on something in the Bible you can in your own mind say Selah, which will remind you to take seriously what you are thinking or reading about. It will help you to remember to thank the Lord for His plan of salvation and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us.
  • Additionally, if you are chosen to read a Psalm in church that contains the word Selah, you can educate the congregation about what it means and perhaps pause at the appropriate time when reading.