Q. What does the word “Selah” mean in the book of Psalms? I’ve noticed that in church, during Scripture readings in unison, people don’t know whether to say it or not.

A. The word “Selah” is one of a number of musical terms in psalm superscriptions. These terms designate types of songs, names of melodies, or other things. The word appears about seventy times in the book of Psalms and three times in the book of Habakkuk.

There are differences of opinion as to exactly what the word refers to. Some believe that the Hebrew root means “to lift up.” To them it signals the lifting up of the music in a benediction, either in voice or in instrument. It may have been like our rest sign in music. Various students of the Word have thought of “Selah” as an indication of prayer or as a notation of something significant, something to be observed carefully before going on to the next item. In other words, it indicates a pause.

If the word itself is a puzzle to us today, we can still pause to consider what God has to say to us whenever we see the word. It can serve as a reminder to us.