Lent with Bonhoeffer, Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Psalm reading from Revised Common Lectionary Lent 4C
[32:1] Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
(Psalm 32 ESV)
Psalm 32 is classified as one of the seven Penitential Psalms. The Lenten season is a time of reflection and penitence. David also uses the language of immanence, saying that we should offer our prayers to the Lord at a time when he can be found (verse 6). David ends his psalm with an exhortation to the congregation to celebrate in the Lord and to rejoice. This psalm also uses the ancient Jewish liturgical terms Maskil and Selah- they were actually musical terms also. We believe that the word Maskil meant a wisdom psalm, or an instructional song. So, not only was David addressing God, he also intended this psalm to be an example to the congregation of Israel. The exact definition of the word Selah has also been lost, but we believe it was also a musical term that shows up in some ancient Hebrew liturgical notations. The nearest reconstruction of Selah is that it was an instruction to the choirmaster or the reader to “pause, and consider that thought” before proceeding to the next line. A musical interlude was probably traditional played during the Selah sections. A final note on Hebrew terms- sometimes, the word (ashri/asre אַשְׁרֵ֥י) translated in the beginning as “Blessed” is also translated as “Happy!”- this translation ties well with David’s closing “Shout for joy…!”
The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear. Christians, especially those who minister, so often think they must always contribute something when they are with others. They forget that listening can be a greater service, than speaking.
Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon no longer be listening to God either. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left but spiritual sounding words. -Life Together, ch.4
God of the covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced the power of death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of repentance,
draw all people to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may put aside the deeds of death
and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.