In praying the Psalms, we confront ourselves as we really are. The Psalms are a reality check to keep prayer from becoming sentimental, superficial, or detached from the real world. Richard H. Schmidt
Well, there you have it.
150 Psalms. 150 Blogs. 150 Contemplations. 150 Prayers. 150 Questions to Ponder.
If you’ve stuck with me throughout this entire journey, congratulations! It’s taken us nearly one year to read and write our way through these classic words found smack-dab in the middle of our Bibles.
So now, after 150 blogs, it’s now time to write my final word on the Book of Psalms.
After giving it much thought, I believe I’ll choose this word:
As many of you know, the little word Selah appears regularly throughout the Psalms. Eugene Peterson in The Message actually leaves the word out of his translation and the NIV simply mentions it in the footnotes. The reason for that is because scholars just can’t agree on the exact meaning of the word! So that’s why, up to this point in my blog, you’ve not seen the word appear. But as we close this series of contemplations on the Psalms, let me leave you with…
Did you know that Selah actually appears over 70 times in the Psalms and is usually placed at the end of a psalm or at the end of a phrase? Some believe it to be a simple Hebrew musical term, placed there to instruct a musician of some important aspect in the music that was being played or sung. Since the word Selah appears in thirty-one of the thirty-nine psalms using the caption header, “to the choir-master,” it might mean something as simple as, “turn the page, stupid” or “stop here before going on to the next movement.”
Other scholars believe the word Selah might have meant “stop and listen.” The Amplified Bible translates it as “pause and ponder.”
I like that!
For me, this last year of pondering through the Psalms has been the very best year of Bible study I think I’ve ever had in my life. In fact, the whole concept of slowing down in order to smell the roses is one the Lord has been speaking to my wife, Sandy, and I for some time now. Quite honestly, much of my thirty years in pastoral ministry has been lived under the ugly lie the hurried world loves to throw at us…
“Hurry up, dummy, get-r-done before something bad happens!”
Yet Selah doesn’t listen to that condemning voice, but offers us a soothing invitation to slow down a bit, taking time to reflect on the words of the Psalmist…
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at Me, your High God,above politics, above everything.” (Psalm 46:10)
So as I close, thanks, my dear readers, for Selah’ing with me this past year. I look forward to more Selah’s with you in the future. Until then, let me close with a Selah written back in the late 1940’s by another Iowa musician. One much better known than I. His name is Meredith Willson, the composer of my favorite musical, The Music Man…
May the Good Lord bless and keep you, whether near or far away.
May you find that long-awaited, golden day today.
May your troubles all be small ones, and your fortune ten times ten.
May the Good Lord bless and keep you, ‘til we meet again.
May you walk with the sunlight shining, and a blue bird in every tree.
May there be a silver lining, back of every cloud you see.
Fill your dreams with sweet tomorrows, never mind what might have been.
May the Good Lord bless and keep you, ’til we meet again.
Selah. For His name’s sake. Amen.
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Thank you for joining us on this 50-week journey, as we took a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all these blog sessions organized for future reference, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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“Pause and ponder.” I like that too.
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