- A psalm of David.1 An enlightening psalm.2
I can’t take it anymore
- 1 It’s a blessing to discover
Our sins have been forgiven.
- 2 We’re happy when we find out
The LORD holds nothing against us,
And when we hold nothing from him.
- 3 When I kept my sin bottled up inside,
My body couldn’t handle it.
All day I struggled with the effects.
- 4 Day after day and night after night
Your hand weighed heavy upon me.
Guilt siphoned the energy out of me
Like the summer heat saps our strength.
- 5 I admitted my sin to you.
I didn’t hold anything back.
I said to myself,
“I’m confessing all my sins to the LORD.”
You forgave me and erased my guilt.
- 6 So, may everyone devoted to you pray to you
When they realize they’ve sinned.4
For when troubles flood in on them,
They might find it harder to reach out to you.
My hiding place
- 7 You are a hiding place for me,
A safehouse of protection from harm.
Safe with you, I sing my Hallelujahs.
- 8 The LORD says, “I’ll show you the way to go.
I’ll be your guide.
I’ll advise you all along the way.
I’ll never take my eyes off of you.
- 9 So don’t act like a horse or a mule,
Who need bits and reins to direct them,
Or they won’t come anywhere near you.
- 10 Troubles swarm around bad people.
But love surrounds people who trust the LORD.
- 11 Good people should celebrate.
Be glad the LORD’s in your life.
Go ahead, good people.
Sing your happy heart out.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm. And the possible byline “of David,” isn’t necessarily a byline. The vague phrase could mean the song was written by David, about David, or was inspired by David. Almost half of the psalms are attributed to David in this way, 73 of 150. Ancient Jewish history tells of David playing a lyre and writing songs. For one, he wrote a song of mourning at the battlefield death of King Saul and his sons: “How have the mighty fallen!” (2 Samuel 1:19-27 New American Standard Bible). An ancient Jewish scroll from about the time of Jesus, discovered among the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, reports that David wrote 3,600
“An enlightening psalm” is a guess. The original Hebrew word is maskil (mass-KEEL). Scholars say they aren’t sure what it means. They say they don’t even know if the word refers to the lyrics or the music. Maskil sounds a bit like another Hebrew word, askilkha, which means “let me enlighten you.” Some scholars associate maskil with a root word, sakal, which generates a lot of words with various meanings such as: thoughtful, instructive, wise, and proper. One theory is that the word relates to both lyrics and music. It could, for example, describe the lyrics as “thoughtful” and the music as a harmony fit for that theme.
The word in the original language of Hebrew is selah. Bible scholars haven’t figured out what it means yet, so all we can do is guess. It could mean “pause for effect,” “instrumental interlude,” or “choir singing ‘Amen.’” We’re offering a guess instead of selah. Though selah might be the better way to go because it’s always correct, it’s also always incomprehensible. “Instruments” has a good chance of being wrong, but at least we convey the idea that the Hebrew word behind it probably has something to do with enhancing the song.
The meaning of this line is unclear. Many Bible versions recommend praying “in a time of great stress,” betting that the line refers to the stress described in 32:3-4. Yet the source of the stress is guilt produced by sin. Either option is a guess based on context clues.