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God directed me to read from Psalm 32 today, and so I went to my usual sources—those versions of the Bible that take pains to accurately translate the original languages, which for the Old Testament is Hebrew and the New Testament is Greek. As a Bible teacher, I esteem the versions that stay true to the original text. Sometimes, however, I choose to read from a modern interpretation. While putting together today’s episode, I reviewed Psalm 32 in several different versions and was drawn to the Passion Translation. I love how it presents both the promise and the admonition in the verses I’ll be reading today from Psalm 32.
Our declaration comes word-for-word from verse 7, which is followed by an interesting interpretation of the word “selah”. According to Abarim Publications, “selah” appears 71 times in the Book of Psalms. Usually, the word appears once or twice per psalm, but Psalm 32 records the word “selah” three times.
Many versions of the Bible print the actual Hebrew word into the context of the Psalm. Perhaps you’ve read the Psalms and come across the word “selah” and wondered what it meant. Well, you’re in good company because its meaning is in doubt. Most scholars agree that the Psalms are meant to be set to music and sung. Many scholars have interpreted “selah” to mean “silence” or “pause”. Others interpret it as a louder strain of music that makes room apart from the lyrics for a spontaneous, joyful noise to be made.
The New Living Translation interprets “selah” as “interlude” and that’s probably as accurate as you can get. It simply isn’t clear whether “selah” calls for a pause in the music, allowing time for silent reflection, or whether the term guides the congregation of worshippers to stop singing while the musicians amp up their instruments to invite vigorous dancing and joyful shouts of praise. Whatever the reason for the interlude, Psalm 32 assures us that our God surrounds us with songs of gladness and joyous shouts of deliverance.
In Psalm 32, David writes about the joy he feels upon finally confessing his sins and receiving God’s forgiveness. No wonder David admonishes us not to be stubborn but to come clean with God. When we do, we can hear God’s glad songs of deliverance all around us. Don’t miss the opportunity to listen for what your God is singing over you.
This week’s scripture: Psalm 32:7-11
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