Happy last Monday of 2019. On Sabbath we took a pause to ponder the year gone by, reflecting not just on what happened, but the meaning of it. The word that guided our reflection was Selah, a Hebrew word of mysterious origin occurring 71 times in the book of Psalms, and three times in Habakkuk.
Because Selah appears most times in songs (Psalms) that are titled, “To the director of music,” it is thought to be an instruction to the choir director about how the music ought to be sung or played. Many commentators think that Selah meant “Pause and ponder what was just said.” It means don’t just run through this quickly but reflect on what you just heard and let it resonate in your mind and spirit before you resume. Pause and take a breath. If you run through this too fast, if you don’t pause, if you don’t stop, you’ll miss the beauty of what the Lord just said.
The Psalm we chose to focus on was Psalm 46. There we found three essential pauses we must take before moving into a new year—a pause for peace; a pause for praise; and a pause to prepare.
A Pause for Peace. Rewind to Psalm 46:1-3. As we close out this year, we need to pause and reflect that God is our refuge and strength. And because He is, we have no reason to fear. Reflect on Luke 2:9-11 and note the similarities between these three verses and the first three verses of Psalm 46. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel said, because a Savior has been born to you; he is your refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. There is no reason to fear because God is near, not distant and removed from your troubles.
Fear is not the inheritance of God’s children, Jesus is. (See Heb. 4:15; Phil. 2:9-11; John 8:58; Psalm 90:2; Col. 1:15-17; Isa. 9:6.) And He is the Prince of Peace. No matter what you may be facing today and, in the year, ahead, God’s word to us today is Selah. Rest. Stop. Take a breath. Don’t let your fear overshadow God’s faithfulness. He kept His promise to come near when the Word became flesh, and He will keep his promise to come near and be a very present help in trouble now. Selah.
A Pause for Praise. Rewind to Psalm 46:4-7.
I praise God today that God is within me and I will not fall. We can pause to praise Him that He “is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). I can pause to praise Him because though “We are hard pressed on every side, but [we are] not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9) Why? Because though nations rage and kingdoms fall, though members of congress and the media rage and world leaders are shaken, those who are helped by God will not be moved.
A Pause to Prepare. Rewind to Psalm 46:10-11.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Knowing God personally, intimately, and in a way that produces peace and praise, comes not just from study and serving, but most significantly from stopping. And this is why God gave us the Sabbath so we would realize the blessing of rest. You can’t know God truly unless you know how to rest in Him.
Holiness can never be obtained by haste or hurry. The Sabbath teaches us holiness—being like God—comes from resting in God. Pausing to know God by observing the acts of God, by living in the peace and praise of God is the best way to prepare for the coming of God. 2020 brings us one year closer. Are you still walking in fear or faith? Are you praising Him for delivering you or are you still trying to deliver yourself? Do you know God or are you too busy to hear His voice? God’s word to us today in year of our Lord 2019 and forever more till He comes is Selah. Pause and ponder what you’ve just heard. And give thanks. –Pastor Randy
p.s. I give thanks for each of you. Happy New Year!