In verse 2 of the third Psalm, David laments that he has many foes, many are rising up against him, and many tell him that God has forsaken him. Even though he is struggling horribly with his own son’s rebellion and had to flee Jerusalem for his life, he won’t crumble to their attacks. He says in the next verse, “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the Lord, /and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah.” David does not fret over his many foes because God is his shield. Even though David had sinned with Bathsheba and was guilty of the murder of Uriah, he did not fold in shame. When Shimei threw dirt at him and reminded him of his sins, he refused to retaliate because he knew God was his glory, not his own righteousness. He didn’t let the opposition destroy his faith and refused to yield to a pity party of depression and anxiety because God was the “lifter of his head.” God was his encourager through all his trials and hardships and even his sins.

He did not let the opposition, the accusations, the guilt, or the insults disparage his faith in God. He cried out to God in it all, and he knew that no matter what happened, God heard him and would answer his pleas for help. Now, stop and think about that. I suggest that is what “Selah” means. He also said it at the end of verse 2 when he pointed out all the opposition he faced. At the end of verse two, the selah has been referred to as “the selah of trouble.” Ellsworth explains the first selah this way, “He was facing the greatest trial of his life. His son had rebelled, and their respective armies were about to join in the battle. Absalom had made it his business to ridicule David’s faith. He and his supporters were saying: ‘There is no help for him in God.’ David’s troubles lead us to think about our own. We also have circumstances that cause us to pause and reflect. Sickness is such a time. So is the death of a loved one. And so are those times when our faith, like David’s of old, is being challenged.”[1]

But the second selah at the end of verse 4 is the selah of “faith,” according to Ellsworth. “David did not allow the challenge to his faith to cause him to abandon it. He met the challenge to his faith by confessing his faith. He specifically confessed his faith in God as a shield that would protect him. This was not wishful thinking on David’s part. God had protected him many times! He also calls God ‘his glory.’ This is undoubtedly a confession of the majesty and sovereignty of God. Our trials become less trying when we place them in the glare of the greatness of God. Further, he confesses his faith in the tender compassion of God for him. He, the Lord, is the one who lifts the head. When David’s head fell to his chest in dejection and despondency, the Lord was there to encourage him. Finally, he confesses his faith in the readiness of God to answer prayer.” Charles Spurgeon writes: “We need not fear a frowning world while we rejoice in a prayer-hearing God.”

[1] Ellsworth, Roger. 2006. Opening up Psalms. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications.