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Selah!

By Rob Holding

There’s an interesting little word in the Psalms that nobody seems to know the full meaning of. It is the word ‘selah’. It usually occurs at the end of a phrase and most people interpret it as ‘pause’ or ‘stop and consider’.

You actually see this done nowadays in a lot of videos that critique songs and pieces of music. The host will play a little bit of the song and then they will stop and analyse what they’ve just heard and then play some more and do the same again. 

The word ‘behold’ in 1 John 3:1 is used in the same way except it comes at the start of the sentence not at the end.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world does not know us, because it knew not Him. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1Jn 3:1-2)

The interesting thing with the word ‘behold’ (Greek εἴδω – eidō) is that it is translated many times in the New Testament as ‘know’.

“Behold, what manner of love…”

Just ‘selah’ for a moment. Stop, consider, perceive, and really know, and really comprehend the manner of love the father has bestowed on us. 

When we pause and consider God, He becomes magnified in our eyes. When we focus on Him, as opposed to focussing on things, He becomes bigger. And that is the way things should be. 

Consider now our privilege in calling Him father.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

We often think the word ‘Abba’ simply means ‘daddy’. A word that little children use for their father until they grow older and say ‘dad’. But it is actually an exceptionally intimate and privileged term. 

Years ago I wrote a song about my father. In the 1970s he ran a Bible class of maybe 50 or so young people and one of the camps he took them to was at Koinonia, near Lake Hayes in Central Otago, NZ. In one of the verses, I wrote;

We camped at Koinonia,
Hunting mushrooms in the field,
They called him Dave, we called him dad,
But it was not revealed,
‘Till many years had passed,
And we’d all grown to lives not yet rehearsed,
That some of those had wished that
Those two names had been reversed.

My sister and two brothers and I thought it somewhat unfair that we weren’t allowed to call him Dave like the other kids. It only occurred to me decades later that some of them would have given anything for the privilege of calling him ‘dad’.

If you are not yet aware of this truth, a large number of children these days grow up without their biological father on the scene. Even when he is around, some ‘dads’ have very little meaningful interaction with their children. The lack of ‘dad’ is one of the biggest causes of teen problems. 

There is a deep spiritual connection between father and child, that is not there with a step father (which I am) or a ‘mum’s boyfriend’. Maybe this is why the last verse of the Old Testament talks of returning the hearts of the fathers to the children.

The first time we come across the word Abba in scripture is when Jesus is kneeling at the rock and says, in Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father, take this cup from me.”

The second one is the verse we just read in Romans 8, and the third is in Galatians.

“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, even though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem those that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore you are no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal 4:1-7)

I love it that God sent His Spirit into our hearts as the paraclete – the one that comes alongside – to help us to call Him Father.

“And Such We Are!”

“Behold, what manner of love the father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons/children of God…. And such we are!”

Those last four words are actually there in the Greek but only implied in the Old English of the KJV. We ARE the children of God. Now! Not will be, not one day, but right now, today. That is why the things of this world don’t recognise us, because we have already been changed.

But wait, there’s more, as the old Ginzu steak knives adverts used to say.

“Beloved, we are now the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)

This is the ‘not only but also’ part of the statement. We are already the sons of God, but we have no comprehension of what is going to happen to us when we see Him – except that we will be changed to be like Him.

Can you fathom that? That is a real ‘selah’ point. We will be changed to be like Him! We have to be changed because we are going to see Him as He is. You cannot help but be changed by that. Moses’s face shone just from that brief encounter with God on Mt Sinai, but we shall see Him AS HE IS.

The ‘Him’ mentioned here is not the Son, because men have already looked upon the Son. This is the Father that we shall see, not veiled, but as He is.

Now stop reading this, sit back and ponder that for a moment.

Selah

All the way through the Old Testament we are reminded that to see God face to face is to die. That is because He is holy and we are sinful. But God’s plan, from before creation, was for us to “be like Him”. The “new creation” that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

John says in John 1:18, “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.” 

Jesus says in Luke 10:22, “…no man knows the Son except the Father; and no man knows the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son reveals him.”

God’s plan is for us to have the most intimate relationship with him that you could not possibly imagine. “…eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those that love Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

And all this bestowing, and loving, and changing is ALL at His instigation because of His great love toward us. Even our faith response to all of that comes from Him.

“And you has he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; In which in times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith; and [even] that is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:1-8) 

So pause again, take a moment, and reflect on your God. Take a leaf out of the Psalmist’s book and “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face,” and not only will the “things of earth grow strangely dim” but your love for Him will increase and, like the Apostle Paul, you too will be overcome with a desire for others to know your God.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, … That he would grant … that you, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend … what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fulness of God. 

Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Eph 3:14-21)

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Rob Holding

Rob Holding

Rob Holding is a former pastor and Christian broadcaster with three decades of full-time ministry behind him. A gifted communicator and worship leader, Rob is the main speaker for Know My Faith and travels the country with an eye-opening multimedia presentation, encouraging believers to dig deeper into the Bible and giving them keys to understanding the scriptures in their original context.

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