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The Secret Meaning of Selah – “I Just Broke a String”

The-Secret-Meaning-of-Selah

Years ago I joined a Facebook group called “Liturgy Fellowship.” It’s a group where a bunch of worship leaders who lead in contexts where some sort of liturgical structure is employed and/or valued share ideas, ask questions, and stay in touch. I’m not terribly active in the group, but I do check in from time to time since I’m curious about what other worship leaders are up to and dealing with. That’s where I learned the secret meaning of Selah.

A few weeks ago, a worship leader in the group shared that he had broken a string and used a joke Reggie Kidd had shared that the meaning of “Selah” in the Psalms actually meant “ah shucks, I broke another string.” Reggie Kidd commented that the joke actually came from Eugene Peterson in his book Answering God where he wonders if the meaning of Selah was actually a cuss word David used when he broke a string.

I thought this was really funny. So I made a mental note to tuck this little joke away in case I ever needed it in the future.

Last weekend we devoted our worship services to an extended time of worship and celebration of God’s faithfulness and goodness to us, after a year of considerable upheaval and change for our church. We recorded a live album last year before leaving our campus of over 275 years, and this year we wanted to capture our congregation continuing to proclaim God’s faithfulness and the power of the Gospel.

On Thursday, the first day of our rehearsals, I put new strings on my guitar. I used those strings during all-day rehearsals on Friday and Saturday, and a recording on Saturday evening. That’s a lot of play.

So, on Sunday morning before our big combined service with everyone in one room, I wondered whether I should put new strings on. Nah, I thought, I’ll be OK. Not so much.

We opened with three songs. A call to worship, Matt Redman’s “How Great is Your Faithfulness”, and “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” During the last few measures of “Crown Him…” I felt the dreaded pop. This wasn’t good. We still had about 12 more songs to get through. Oh. No.

Thankfully, after “Crown Him”, our pastor, John Yates, was supposed to come up and welcome people, pray, and lead us the prayer for purity. I thought that if I moved at lightening speed, I could replace the E string in that time. I wish.

So I rushed over to my case. No strings. I rushed back to where I thought they could be. Not there. Asked one of the electric guitarists if he had any. He said no. I run back to my case. I find them. I get back to my guitar just as the prayer for purity is ending and my pastor is walking back to his seat.

Then I remembered the Facebook group. The meaning of Selah joke. I can’t quite remember how it’s supposed to go. But I use it. I try to tell it as well as I can. Please work, I prayed. Help me Lord.

And it works. They laugh. So I ask John to come back up and “share something from his heart” for 2 minutes. He plays along. People laugh. And I change my string faster than I’ve ever changed a string in my entire life.

So, thanks to my friends on the Facebook group for sharing that excellent joke on the meaning of Selah. Thank you, Lord, for in your providence pointing me to that joke weeks before I’d need it because you knew I’d need it. And thanks to my congregation for laughing.

I will likely use this joke again. And you should too. It’s a good one.

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Jamie was born and raised in Florida as a preacher’s kid. Since age 14, he has been leading worship pretty much every Sunday of his life, experiencing all of the joys and trials of church ministry. For over 10 years, Jamie has been writing at his blog, Worthily Magnify, in the hopes of helping worship leaders lead better. In 2006, Jamie married Catherine, and they now have four wonderful kids: Megan, Emma, Callie, and Jacob, who keep them busy, laughing, praying, and very grateful to God.