Selah!

Read and reflect on Psalm 46.

Selah!  – Psalm 46: 3, 7, 11 NIV

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 (pronounced SEE-lah) 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 drive to my doctor’s appointment one time, 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 us with His love?

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!” 

The focus here is on the word pause.

How often do we intentionally pause and think about the blessings God has poured into our lives? Or to take time to know Him better? 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 your blessings. 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 in 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 2022. 

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” (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6).

What is your focus verse for 2022?

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.

TO MY READERS: 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)

From God, Me, and a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Last Candle


She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. . . . and they will call him Immanuel—which means, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:21, 23 (NIV)

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given . . . And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

 It wasn’t a good Christmas for Henry. His oldest son had been badly wounded in the war. And it was another Christmas without his beloved wife Fanny, who died three and a half years earlier as a result of burns suffered in a fire that Henry himself tried to extinguish. The scars from the burns he received while trying to save her made shaving too painful, so he grew a beard—a constant reminder of his tragic loss.

Henry was all too familiar with grief. His first wife died at the age of 22, days after a miscarriage while they were traveling abroad. He’d buried a year-old daughter and a 20-year-old sister. His grief that Christmas after his son was wounded drove him to pen the following words: “And in despair I bowed my head, ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.’”

The year was 1864. The war was the Civil War. The poet was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Times haven’t changed much, have they? The country is still at war. Our young men and women are still being wounded. And people still carry burdens of unbearable grief, especially at Christmastime. A season that should be joyful is, for many folks, a reminder of what they have lost. 

I didn’t set out to write a column that would depress you, especially on Christmas Eve.  But I know many of you are coping with grief. Perhaps this is the first year without your husband or wife or son or daughter or mother or father. Perhaps you lost your job this year. Or you’ve received a diagnosis that has left you staggering. Perhaps in your pain you’re wondering where God is. Peace is absent from your life.

Oh, how we’d love to capture the wonder and joy and magic of that first Christmas and carry it around with us all the time! But the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds went back to work, the wise men returned to their country, the blazing star disappeared, and a jealous, insane king ordered the slaughter of all male children two and under. 

In 1872 Longfellow’s poem was set to music. Today we know it as “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” The last stanza reads: “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The wrong shall fail, the right prevail With peace on earth, good will to men.’” 

What a message of hope! Even in our deepest pain and grief and despair, the last candle burns: Immanuel. God is with us. Yesterday, today, and always.

 As I light the center candle on my Advent wreath—the white candle—I am reminded that it symbolizes Jesus, your Son, who came to give us hope, love, joy, and peace. Thank you, God, for the best Christmas present of all. Amen.         

Read and reflect on: Luke 2:1–20.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.