Selah!  – Psalm 46: 3, 7, 11 NIV

If I were to choose a Scripture that best describes my life in 2016, I’d select Psalm 46. The psalm begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” The year was filled with many challenges, particularly health issues and family transitions.

If I were to choose a Scripture for the New Year—as a theme verse to reflect on throughout the year—I’d select a word used 74 times in the Bible, mostly in Psalms (71 times—the other three can be found in Habakkuk) and often overlooked. Perhaps we ignore it because it’s only one little word of five letters standing all by itself at the end of a verse. Perhaps we pay little attention to it because no one knows with certainty its meaning, not even biblical scholars. So we skip right over it and keep on reading.

But the word Selah is not to be ignored, even if we don’t know what it means.

Strong’s Concordance defines Selah as “to lift up, to exalt.”

So the first word I want to focus on is PRAISE.

Sometimes the phrase “Praise God!” slips through our lips almost meaninglessly and is soon forgotten. How often do we truly praise God—from the heart, not just the mouth?

On a recent drive to a doctor’s appointment, I spent nearly the entire 45 minutes praising God—aloud. It all started when I thanked Him for dry roads and good weather. One praise flowed after another. Once the pump was primed, the water of praise just gushed out.

Too often I focus on my problems, not on praise. Can it really be that much easier to list a litany of laments than all the ways God has lavished His love upon us?

Another definition for Selah is “the writer’s instruction to the reader to pause and exalt the Lord,” or “pause and calmly think of that!” (Note the exclamation point, which I didn’t add. It was already there.)

The focus here is on the word PAUSE. pause-button-3

How often do we intentionally pause and praise God? I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t give God the time He is due. Too often my prayer and Bible reading time is like rushing through the drive-through, gobbling junk to appease my hunger, rather than take the time to savor the banquet and sip from the overflowing cup of blessings my Lord places before me (Psalm 23: 5).

Try it. Put your day on pause and sit down and focus on the things you can praise God for. Little things. Big things. Speak them aloud—there’s power in the spoken word—or write them down. It won’t be long before the clouds of hopelessness and despair part and you feel the warmth of His sunshine flood your soul.

Pause and praise—and one more thing—PRESENCE.

Just as the meaning of Selah is uncertain, so are the days that will comprise 2017.

But of one thing I am certain: That His Presence will go with me (Exodus 33:14). For He has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Thank You, Lord, for being with me every moment of every day. Remind me to pause and praise You often throughout the New Year. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 46

NOTE TO READERS: Have you chosen a theme verse for 2017? Please email me at and tell me what your verse is and why you chose it.

Happy New Year! May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the LORD lift up His countenance on you and give you peace throughout the new year. (Numbers 6:24–26)

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Photo by Wilbur D. Huey. (c) 2015 Wilbur D. Huey. All rights reserved.

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