The last time a Selah is used in the Psalter is Psalm 143. Pastor Craig led us through this psalm on Sunday. Check out the short recap of his message, or watch the video below of the full message.
I just came back from California where drought-like conditions cause residents a lot of concern—wildfires, crop failure, what happens if too much falls too quickly? Being dry causes people a lot of stress.
Most people live under-hydrated, if not dehydrated. Depending upon the size of the person, the amount of water in the human body makes up 55-75%. That means that when we don’t get enough water, many complications can arise. So if you struggle with…
- …headaches, don’t take a Tylenol, but trying drinking more water
- …bad breath, don’t swish mouthwash, but trying drinking more water
- …tired, don’t guzzle caffeine, but trying drinking more water
- …gut problems, don’t pop an Alka-Seltzer or milk of magnesia, but trying drinking more water
- …bags under your eyes, don’t get botox, but trying drinking more water
The introduction to Psalm 143 only says, “A psalm of David,” but nothing about his actual predicament. But we can see the things that were weighing heavy on David:
- he pleaded for mercy, which means not getting the punishment he deserved (vv. 1-2)
- enemies were pursuing him (v. 3)
- he felt faint in spirit and dismayed in heart (v. 4)
- he had a failing spirit (v. 7)
- he was lost, asking God to “show me the way” (v. 8)
- he prayed for God to “preserve my life…bring me out of trouble” (v. 11)
- he felt the slander of his enemies (v. 12)
All of this must have led to David feeling emotionally and spiritually—if not even physically—dehydrated.
We have said there are three definitions for Selah, but I think the context of this chapter clearly limits it to just one definition: a pause to reflect. David’s Selah in this psalm is actually a quadruple Selah! A dehydrated David reminds himself and us to…
- remember or recall to mind
- meditate or speak to yourself (also see Psalm 42:5-6)
- consider—some translations use the word “muse,” a word meaning an inner conversation, including airing our complaints
- Selah—the call to “pause and calmly think of that,” as the Amplified Bible defines that word
All of these things pressing in on David were getting his full attention, so he forgot to drink deeply of the Living Water of God. As a result, David was dehydrated. This is why he calls for a quadruple Selah to be refreshed.
But what if there are so many problems around us that we cannot even think of anything that we can “drink” from God? What if there are so many troubles that we don’t know what to thank Him for?
Let me point you to a tiny preposition: IN in vv. 8, 9 (and also in Psalm 42:5-6). David is not saying he has to get a drink, but that he has to go IN to the Source of Living Water.
Rejoice IN the Lord (Philippians 4:4) and Trust IN the Lord (Isaiah 26:4). As a result, God will then keep us IN His peace(Isaiah 26:3; Philippians 4:7). [Check out all of these verses by clicking here.]
This is what I think David spoke to himself in his remembering, meditating, and considering—in his inner conversations. Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust IN You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8).
When you’re dehydrated, it’s hard to think of things to be thankful for, but we can look to the unchangeable attributes of God. David did this and it helped him with his actions and attitude:
God’s love is unfailing so we can rely on Him (v. 8a)
God’s omniscience is infinite so we can trust His leading (v. 8b)
God’s omnipotence is unmatched so we can be secure in Him (v. 9)
God’s sovereign wisdom is unrivaled so we can confidently obey and follow Him (v. 10)
God’s eternal glory is unending so we can have eternal hope (v. 11)
Again David notes that God’s love is unfailing so we can continue to fearlessly serve Him (v. 12), which takes us right back to the opening two verses of this psalm
The Selah time allow David to make these connections, or rather, it allowed him the quiet time to drink in the Holy Spirit’s reminders of these attributes of God. David always knew who God was, but in his time of dehydration his Selah re-reminded Him of who God was to him.
When we are feeling dehydrated, we must Selah to drink deeply of the Living Water. This Selah pause plunges us INTO God’s presence and allows us to make His attributes personal.
If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the complete list of them by clicking here.