Daily Archives: June 27, 2011

Be Still, Hurried thoughts on Silence, part 3

By Michael Gallup

Be Still.

This verse is found in the midst of something strange to us, Hebrew poetry. This poetry is not concerned with rhyme but with structure. It is full of parallels and chiasms, full of acrostics and musical instructions, full of Selahs.

Hebrew scholars have encountered much difficulty translating this term which litters the Psalms. There is no consensus as to what is meant by this ancient Hebrew term, yet some have believed Selah suggests a pause or break in the poetry; a time to stop and reflect on the glory of Yahweh revealed in the verses.

If you apply that approach, it can offer much color and depth to your reading of the Psalms. We encounter words such as “Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty-he is the King of glory. Selah” And as we chew on this audacious statement, awe and wonder begin to immerse us. He is the King of glory indeed.

However, due to the questions surrounding Selah, some translations and many readers simply skip over or remove this word. A word which in essence says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Maybe our culture hasn’t the patience to reflect anymore. We want our scripture and our God like we want our food: fast, instant, microwaved.

Just as Hebrew has become foreign to our culture so has reflection and consequently so has awe and wonder. Yet in a foreign tongue which we can miraculously understand, the Merciful Spark pleads for reflection, pleads the ‘Selah’, and pleads for the ‘be still.’

As a youngster, I would avoid my chores like the plague, even though they were not so difficult. I would rather do anything other than unload the dishwasher. I can hear my mother say, “Michael, will you unload the dishwasher?”

“I will Mom.” And I would change the channel.

“Michael, did you unload the dishwasher yet?”

“I said ‘I would’ didn’t I, Mom?” And I read another comic book.

“Michael Alan Gallup, unload the dishwasher right now!”

“I WILL!” And yet, I often never did and in the miraculous event that I did, I missed the joy of serving one who had given her life for me. I missed the joy of obedience.

God calls to us, “Be still” and we reply with, “I will.” And yet we often never do. When we do find time to be silent it is often spent thinking over what we didn’t get accomplished that day or what we have to do next and we miss out on the joy of listening to the One who gave His life for us. We miss the joy obedience.

God wants us to do more than to simply follow an order, to do more the merely sit still; He desires that we quiet our entire beings and let Him fill us up. However, we often see this as a colossal waste of time; our list of duties is just too overwhelming to add another time consuming task such as being still. Clothes need washing, bills need paying, papers need writing, calls need making, books need reading, dinner needs cooking and if there is time, perhaps we might read a scripture or two so we don’t feel so bad about ourselves when we lay down at night.

Carl Jung said that “Hurry is not of the devil; it is the devil.” I read these words and a shocking revelation comes over me, I have become a friend of the devil.

My disobedience has produced a lifeless life, one that is rapidly being choked out by busyness, yet in the midst of that stranglehold of darkness, light breaks in and the Spark of Mercy demands for me to be still.

And I am shown that this is not just another part of my schedule but it is something that penetrates deeply into the cracks of my life. I stop filling in the moments with noise and distraction and I begin filling them with God.

Michael is finding freedom from worry and hurry in exciting ways yet still feels distance from the One. He is a busy person surrounded by grace. He sells chicken for a living and tries to be a husband and father. He is currently a student at Denver Seminary. You can read his blog, A Sprig of Hope, by clicking here.


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