3 Selahs / Knowing Christ in Psalm 32

By: A.T. Walker

Psalm 32:1-11

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.
Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding,
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise they will not come near to you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

The word “Selah” appears 71 times in the book of Psalms. While there is some debate about its meaning, the most common understanding of it is that it means to pause and reflect on what was just said. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the placement of the 3 Selah’s in this psalm:

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.
Selah.

As believers, we are no longer exiles. When we believe in Christ alone for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven (1 John 1:9), we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and we are given free access to God (Hebrews 4:16). But what happens when we sin after we come to Christ? We are told to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, that we may find healing (James 5:16). Sin is destructive. Sin is a cancer. Even though our sins have been completely paid for by Christ and we will not suffer the eternal consequences of them, we still suffer the temporal consequences. In 2 Samuel 11-12, we see David commit terrible sins and we see the impact those sins had, both on David’s life and those around him. Here we get a glimpse of what living with unconfessed sin was like for David:

My body wasted away
Groaning all day long
Your hand was heavy upon me
My strength was dried up

We need to see what a blessing this actually is. The Lord gives some over to their depravity (Romans 1:18-32). Thankfully, out of love, the Lord will discipline His children. His hand will lay heavy on them. Hebrews 12:7-11 says:

“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

The Lord will use discipline to call His children to repentance. Some of us are at this Selah. We have sin we are still holding on to, sin we need to confess. Do it now. Don’t wait a second longer. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”.

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin.
Selah.

Discipline brings the confession. Confession brings the healing. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Salvation and forgiveness are free gifts offered to everyone who believes (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever hides his transgressions will not succeed, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will find mercy.” While the first Selah leaves us wasting away in our sin, this Selah shows us the beautiful simplicity of God’s grace and mercy:

I confessed my sin.
He forgave my sin.

It’s beautifully simple, but we are woefully undeserving.

Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance.
Selah.

In Ephesians 5:19, we are told to sing psalms with one another. Why would God tell His people to sing psalms to each other? Because the psalms, at their core, are songs of deliverance:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress” Psalm 107:6

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50:15

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer” Psalm 40:17

Though the world is falling apart around us, we have a Rock, a hiding place, a Deliverer. This is why we sing psalms. So as we close out Psalm 32, I invite you to follow the Selah’s:

Consider the weight of your sin and confess.
Remember the cost of your forgiveness.
Praise the Lord for delivering you.

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!

 

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