Series: Turbulence


Sermon By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / March 15, 2020


Last week I had a difficult time gathering my sermon thoughts for this morning.

I was distracted by many things.  Like many of you, I could not get a handle on what was happening in our world.

There is something about this Covid-19 Pandemic that has turned our world upside down.


I researched the H1N1 Virus that hit in 2009-2010.

In the US we had some 60M infected, 300K hospitalized and 15K+ related deaths.

Yet there was nothing like the response we're experiencing with this coronavirus.


Today we have some 2,000 cases with 50 deaths thus far.  Even though the numbers are far less than ten years ago,

this pandemic has us all out of sorts.  It reminds me of, “The Day The Earth Stood Still?”.

Cancellations are everywhere - - Schools, MLB, NBA, NHL, March Madness, The Masters.

Church services are suspended.

The stock market has plummeted.  People are out of work. 

Supplies chains are interrupted.  Cruise ships are halted.  Air travel is severely curtailed.

Visitors are not allowed at nursing homes.  There is pandemonium at the grocery stores.


Perhaps the scariest thought is that it may get much a whole lot worse in the days to come.


Time will tell if we have over-reacted.

The hysteria of the last few weeks and the calls for “social distancing” may well end up

having helped us us greatly in seeking to contain and mitigate this deadly virus.


I was finally able to hammer out my sermon last Friday night.

It's a good sermon that needs to be preached, and it will be, but not this morning.

I awakened out of a deep sleep at about three this morning and went down

to my study to re-think and revise my comments for today.


We often turn to the psalms in times of trouble.

They serve to remind us that life has often been difficult.

But most importantly they also work to remind us that The Lord is our God.


So this morning, I just want us to bathe our minds with some of the words we find in the sacred writings of  the Psalms.


Our emphasis this morning will be to focus on some of the psalms that contain the word SELAH.

This word is a bit mysterious, almost enigmatic.  Even Hebrew scholars are not certain what it means.

It appears 71 times in the Psalms and 3 times in Habakkuk.


From what I can tell, the word is probably best pronounced, Say-lah.  In the UK they say SEE-LAH.


Selah appears in 39 different psalms, of which 31 contain a caption:  for the choir director.

Some think selah is a liturgico-musical mark (crescendo or fortissimo) or instruction for how to read the text.

e.g., it indicates a musical interlude at that point in the psalm. 

Some think the word selah may be a derivation of our word “solo”.

Others think the word selah is similar to the amen (so be it).


The dictionary defines it as:  A Hebrew word of unknown origin often marking the end

of a verse in the psalms and thought to be a term indicating a PAUSE or REST.


It seems to serve to stress the truth and importance of the preceding passage.

In others, “hang on” to these words or “measure” these words carefully.  

One interpretation is that Selah means, “Stop and Listen”.

“Pause and think calmly of that...”

I like this view - - and even if it not 100% accurate, I find it to be most helpful.



But Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.



Know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; The Lord hears when I call to Him.

Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.



Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the king of glory may come in.  Who is the king of glory?  The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors,

that the king of glory may come in. Who is the king of glory?  The Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.



Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the extent of my days, let me know how transient I am.  Behold, Thou has

made my days as handbreaths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight, Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.



God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.  Therefore we will not fear,  though the earth

 should change, and though the mountains slips into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at it swelling pride. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy dwelling

 places of the most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.  God will help her when morning dawns.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.



My heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.  Fear and trembling

come upon me. and horror has overwhelmed me.  And I said, 'Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest. Behold, I would wander away, I would lodge in the wilderness.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.



Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer.  Form the end of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint;

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For Thou hast been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy.

Let me dwell in Thy tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Thy wings.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.



How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts!  My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;

My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.  The bird has also found a house, and the swallow a nest

for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts, My and my God.

How blessed are those who dwell in Thy house!  The are ever praising Thee.

Selah - - pause and think calmly of that.


Song # 796 – Remember Me, O Mighty One


We may be separated more than usual over the next month or so, but let us use this time to nourish our soul.

We have our Bibles, we can pray at all times, and we can check on one another by phone.

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