The Story of Selah's Name

"pause and reflect" 
     Okay, so finally - the background to how we named our sweet girl!  If you know me at all, you know I do not make decisions quickly or easily.  I actually put a crazy amount of thought, discussion, analysis, (often too much!?), and prayer into making choices...almost all choices.  So particularly weighty decisions are quite an emotional experience for me.  You can be sure that whenever I do choose something, I will have an explanation to go with it.  (Hence the long and wordy blog post about it!)  While not quite to the same extent, Kevin shares this trait with me when it comes to major decisions.  So when we became pregnant in December, choosing a name for our child shot straight to the top of the prayer list.  What a privilege and honor to give a name to a life God has intentionally and beautifully created!  Wow - very intense for both of us.  And now that all our past discussions about names applied to an actual child, it was amazing how many no longer carried enough significance to give this sweet baby.  We both shared the desire for the names to be God inspired, confirmed by him, and to have depth and meaning to us.  No pressure.  Ha.  Kevin prayed fervently and often that God would give us the name of this child He already knew.  We wanted the boy's name to be biblical and strong, and it was important to me to choose something somewhat unique for the girl's name, because when I was young my name was unique and I loved it.  (Page is my mom's maiden name and what she was often called in high school and college.)  I have always been sure that I wouldn't be able to name a child until the last second because of my decision making struggles. :)  That's why it was amazing when God led us to our names quickly and early in February - and we both were excited and had peace about them.

 As I mentioned Sunday, for several years I had been familiar with "Selah" used as the name for the popular Christian music group.  Love their music, but it wasn't a contributing factor when we were choosing.  I also had seen it was in the Psalms but had never really studied it.  Last summer we took the most amazing, life changing trip ever to Israel...it was incredible.  I'm still just in awe of everything we were able to experience there, and all God taught us.  Such a blessing to get to walk where Jesus walked, in the Holy Land.  The bible truly came to life for us in an entirely different way after that trip, and we made some powerful relationships with a few people there.  While we were there Kevin and I joked about if we happened to become pregnant while there...which led to all kinds of different Hebrew and biblical choices, (some quite interesting ;), that we could use to name our first child.  It was all just in theory, keep in mind.

While there we were also able to visit the Dead Sea, (which was awesome!),  and at some point we bought this bottle of lotion with Dead Sea minerals in it...and it was given the name 'Selah.' 

 We found out we were pregnant right before Christmas, and in the midst of going through boxes looking for Christmas decorations and our nativity we bought from Israel, I came across the 'Selah' lotion and set it out by the kitchen sink.  I non-chalantly said, "Hey, if it's a girl we could name her Selah."  I'm not sure what Kevin said at that point, but that was pretty much the end of it for a couple weeks besides adding it to the list and prating about it. 

From the very beginning of our pregnancy we would spend time praying scripture over our sweet baby...often the Psalms. Many of the scriptures in this book have been pretty powerful in Kevin's studies and significant in our family this past year.  One Sunday at the end of January we were sitting in church and a reference to a scripture in Psalms was made.  As I was reading it I came across 'selah' again, and decided to look through and find all of them that I could, and do some research on it later.  In the NIV version of the bible the notes simply say, "unknown meaning."  Not exactly what we were looking for in a name. ;)  When I researched it at home, I discovered that it's a Hebrew word meaning 'to pause and reflect,' and is essentially a musical term, used in the midst of the songs in the Psalms.  It is asking the reader to stop and think about what was just said, (or sung), considering the weight and depth of the meaning.  Love, love, love that.  Kevin loved it too.

Selah (Hebrew: סֶלָה‎, also transliterated as selāh) is a word used frequently in the Hebrew Bible, often in the Psalms, and is a difficult concept to translate. (It should not be confused with the Hebrew word sela‘ (Hebrew: סֶלַע‎) which means "rock.") It is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like "stop and listen". "Selah" can also be used to indicate that there is to be a musical interlude at that point in the Psalm.[1] The Amplified Bible states Selah as "pause, and think of that". (from Wikipedia)

I also love this additional and 'modern' interpretation:

BDB shows that the main derivation of the Hebrew word "selah" is found through the fientive verb root סֶ֜לָה which means "to lift up (voices)" or "to exalt", and also carries a close connotational relationship to the verb סָלַל, which is similar in meaning - "to lift up" or "to cast up". The word סֶלָה, which shifts the accent back to the last syllable of the verb form, indicates that in this context, the verb is being used in the imperative mood as somewhat of a directive to the reader. As such, perhaps the most instructive way to view the use of this word, particularly in the context of the Psalms, would be as the writer's instruction to the reader to pause and exalt the Lord.[4]

One of my favorite verses, and one that has been most significant in my life is Psalms 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God."  I have referenced it on my blog several times, as well as my favorite song, "Be Still and Know," by Steven Curtis Chapman.  God has taught me no greater lesson in the 30 years of my life so far than to trust Him.  (The "adrenaline rush of trust" as I call it. :)  It has been an amazing journey, difficult at times, and I haven't always handled the lessons beautifully.  I also know that while I may not like it, the journey to trust is a lifelong one.  But God of course remains faithful, and learning to trust him has been a powerful experience over and over in my life.  I love the line in that song that says, "Bow before the Prince of Peace, let the noise and clamor cease."  That is exactly what I wanted to do right after I had a baby.  It has always been one of the greatest desires of my heart to have a gentle and quiet spirit...to fully trust God with a heart and mind at peace.  Having desired a child for as long as I can remember, I knew that every time I would look at this sweet baby I would be in awe of what God has done...and with the name Selah, we would be reminded to "pause and reflect," to be still, be amazed, and acknowledge that he is God.  And with the crazy journey we experienced with our home situation and other life circumstances during our pregnancy, it was obvious how deeply God was calling us to trust him with our whole hearts over and over.  Pregancy alone calls you to that on a moment by moment basis, entrusting him with this precious life he's knitting together.

And that is what our sweet baby Selah is.  A precious life we have been entrusted with that we are asked to trust God with.  She is his beautiful creation, and we pray we can enjoy her for a long, long time here on earth.  All summer long, at the end of my pregnancy, I started each quiet time (by the pool!) reading the Psalms, especially because of the girl name we had chosen.  It definitely did great things for my bible study. :)  There were a few verses I used as comfort measures during labor, (the story I'll share next!), and especially at the end, right before Selah was born, Kevin and I were literally both crying and calling on God in prayer.  I remember being convicted about how once again God was asking us to surrender and trust Him.  To be still and know that he is God.  (That should have been my first clue she was a girl!!;)  Then sweet Selah was born.

I remember when she was laid on my chest and I found out she was a girl, I instantly wanted to say her name...but had held it in for so long that I hesitated.  (And we wanted to tell our family).  It was sweet and funny at the same time...but instantly confirmed.  It is certainly and wonderfully true that I cannot look at this sweet amazing little blessing without taking a pause and reflecting on the depth of all God has done.  He is amazing...and she is a gift.  What a sweet bonus blessing that she's a girl...because I get to share this story. 

And that, my friends, is how our sweet Selah girl got her name.

Thank you Lord for this beautiful girl, and her very special name.

My favorite lines: 

"Consider all that he has done, stand in awe and be amazed, know that he will never change."

"Come rest your head upon his breast; listen to the rhythm of his unfailing heart of love...beating for his little ones, calling each of us to come...be still."


Nicole said...

Page, you really just inspire me. You inspire me to get into the word and to be even more on fire for God. He is doing such great things in my life, and I am so blessed to read the blogs of women who have such wisdom and who have committed their lives so fully to the Lord. I just get chills from her name. What a beautiful reminder!

cait said...

Beautiful!! Loved hearing this story! That bible picture is great...precious reminder of all that He does for us...He pays attention to ALL the details, even the names of our sweet little ones!

Megan Williams said...

Beautiful story! We came across this name while we were reading one day and have fallen in love with it. Our little girl will be here in May. Do you pronounce it Saylah or Seelah? We've been a little concerned w pronunciation issues...but it's a small price to pay for such a beautiful biblical name!

Haley said...

Love, love, love your blog. I am almost 12 weeks pregnant and although we obviously don't know if this little miracle is a boy or girl yet, I have been trying to decide on names. And..I am SOOO just like you with the whole name picking process. Then I was reading Psalms..and bam..Selah. My husband and I actually agree and love it...my mom..eh...she wasn't so excited, but I'm hoping she'll come around. I would also like to know if you pronounce it "say" or "see." We are thinking 'say' and spelling it Selah. Have you had any trouble with crazy pronunciations? Thanks so much. Keep writing! :)

Allyson said...

Oh my goodness, I was Googling my youngest niece's name looking for her books, when I came across this.

You see, her name is Selah Grace and you have just put a little more light into her name for me.

I very rarely read blogs but felt compelled to read yours. Thanks for posting this and sharing your beautiful experience with us!

In Him,