Today in church we read Psalm 32 and the passage struck me.
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!
The word Selah is a bit of a mystery. Some believe it denotes a break or change in the song’s melody. Others think it is a silent moment of praise. I was struck this morning by where it falls in this Psalm.
After the introduction, the author begins with a cry of grief. Like acid held tight in his mouth, the knowledge of unconfessed sin rotted him from the inside out, sucking all his motivation and strength. I remember the oppressive New Orleans, summer heat. There were days when you could see it rise off the pavement and taste it in the air. On those days, everyone stayed inside, hoping to escape the fog of heat outside. One might imagine the author of Psalm 32 alone, sitting in a kitchen chair, in the dark of a dirty apartment, surrounded by spent cereal boxes and finished microwave dinners, unable to gather the motivation to rise and turn the lights on.
It’s at the end of this first picture that comes the first Selah. When I read it, the word “breath” came to mind.
“The world seems dark and hopeless. This death inside you rots you, leaving you hollow and in pain.” Breath.
Much to the shock of the writer, once the sins escaped his mouth, once the poison was expelled, failure was returned with healing, wrong doings were forgiven.
When I sin, like Adam and Eve in the garden, my first instinct is to hide. I do not hide in bushes though. Rather, I hide in plain site. I go about my day pretending nothing has happened, make believing that nothing has gone wrong. I put on a mask, hiding the shame of my face from the world, and from Him.
The joke is on me though. He was present when the sin occurred. He was there when I did it, and the mask hides nothing from him. As I hide in the dark in shame, he waits patiently for me to come to the revelation that I was never actually alone, that he is sitting there, waiting for me acknowledge his presence so we both can move on.
And once again, at the moment of revelation, there is the word. Breath. Pause. Soak it in.
In the third movement, we see Him for who He is. He is the true hiding place. All along, the security I was searching for, the protection from prying eyes, mask I was hoping would protect me is he.
And a third time, the word. Breath.
I love the beat Selah creates.
I was alone. Hiding.
I acknowledge that you were always there, waiting to restore the damage I had done.
And now I see that you were the hiding place I longed for all along.