By Ashley E. Lyon
What does Selah mean?
The word is prominent in the Psalms, occurring 71 times (as well as 3 in Habakkuk)— but what does it mean?
From antiquity to the present, the Psalter has been one of the most popular and beloved books of the Bible. The theological message of the Psalter is presented through Hebrew poetry, which is both beautiful and (oftentimes) mysterious. Hebrew poetry is notoriously hard to understand; it often leaves students and scholars alike scratching their heads. We have no lists of rules from antiquity for interpreting the Psalter, either as individual psalms or as a collective whole. What’s more, rare words permeate the Psalter’s pages— including Selah. This obscure word has been deemed the “puzzle of ordinary readers and the despair of scholars.”
How has Selah been understood?
Several proposals have been made over the last 100 years or so for the meaning of Selah. Though most scholars view it as a musical…