+ See All Blog Posts



Perhaps you have found yourself with a little more time on your hands lately. We have always been super busy and something that our church staff was discussing online yesterday is that no one can really make the claim that they are super busy right now. It's illegal to be busy! Perhaps you've been able to read your Bible a little bit more. Something that I used to struggle with was what part of the Bible I should read. There's so much there and a lot of it is really difficult to understand whether it be the culture being described, the language being used, or even how deep the theology or symbolism might be.

I will say that if something that you are interested in doing right now that is a bit different, I would like to give you a special technique involved in reading from the Psalms. This type of reading will, in many ways, allow you to feed your soul and simply deepen your relationship with God. Psalms was described by one of my favorite theologians (Bonhoeffer) as the "Prayer Book of the Bible." We credit David with writing the psalms and that is mostly true, but a few others contributed to the psalms as well. They truly are prayers and messages to God. Some involve complaining, some despair, some are pure praise, some are contrition. They walk us all through praying to God in various seasons of life. This is wonderful because that means that there are psalms for the season of life that you are in right now!

Something that I wanted to highlight in the psalms is a particular word that appears several times throughout different psalms. That word is "selah." Some translations might say something like "interlude" and other translations might not say anything at all and simply have it omitted. The reason for these differences and for why a Hebrew word was never translated into English is because scholars are either unsure or divided on the translation of what this word should be. Now you have the option of reading a psalm, seeing this word, and simply moving forward and continuing reading. However, I think that this word is places where it is for a reason.

About 10 years ago, one of the Bible professors from a school that I didn't even go to really opened my eyes to what this word is placed in certain places for. He said that what he believed the best translations of selah to be is "stop and listen." Now when you think about that idea of doing this when reading through the psalm, it gives you so much perspective of where the psalmist was at spiritually when writing the psalm and how you can relate to that point in your own season of life. When you arrive at the word selah in your reading, you can stop and listen for 30 seconds or 30 minutes. It's really up to you. If you have never done anything like this before, then I recommend that you do this just for 30-60 seconds and build up more time as you go along. If you do this enough, then you might find that you look forward to the term selah because it means that scripture is inviting you into a quiet space alone with God, something that we never really feel like we have time to have anymore.

Let's try going through one of these psalms using this exercise by looking at Psalm 3. This psalm was written by David when he was forced to flee his own kingdom because his son, Absolom, had overthrown him.

O Lord, I have so many enemies;

so many are against me.

2 So many are saying,
"God will never rescue him!" Selah (stop and listen)

3 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.

4 I cried out to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy mountain. Selah (stop and listen)

5 I lay down and slept,
yet I woke up in safety,
for the Lord was watching over me.

6 I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies

who surround me on every side.

7 Arise, O Lord!
Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!

Shatter the teeth of the wicked!

8 Victory comes from you, O Lord.
May you bless your people. Selah (stop and listen)

Despite David's entire world falling apart at the hands of his own sinister child, David cries out to God and finds comfort in God's presence. David cries out for deliverance and justice and God does indeed deliver for David both spiritually and literally. As I reflected on this psalm, I thought back on a really tough season of life I went through a couple of years ago where I experienced some deep betrayal and felt like I was being pressed in on all sides. God delivered me too and this is now a part of my story. Being able to stop and listen in the midst of this reading and in trying times gives us the opportunity to be reflective and in a world where just about everyone is currently reactive to everything going, it might be the best thing for us to be a guiding light by being reflective instead.

May this reading bless you and may God bless you.

--Casey Lankford