Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"God alone is my rock and salvation"

Tonight is one of those nights I wish I had something really catchy to post, but I don't. Life can be scary and disorienting if you let it, but I don't. Reality doesn't scare me only because I trust in God. Tonight it bears reiterating that karma is far inferior to grace. With karma you always and inevitably get what you deserve; with karma what goes around comes around (how does reincarnation as a cockroach sound?).

Grace works differently, as the U2 song indicates- "Grace/She takes the blame/She covers the shame/Removes the stain/It could be her name." I mean, if I only get what I give, then, if I'm honest, I should not expect very much, if anything, except probably winding up with a negative balance. Besides, to truly love means to give with no expectation of return, which is why truly loving another is a form of ascesis. It is a difficult thing to gaze at myself as Christ gazes at me.

In times like these the Psalms are a great comfort that provide me a way to realize, that is, make real the strength God gives me to live my circumstances. Tonight I think especially of Psalm 62, which begins:

"My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall. How long will you set upon people, all of you beating them down, As though they were a sagging fence or a battered wall? Even from my place on high they plot to dislodge me. They delight in lies; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah. My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope. God alone is my rock and my salvation, my secure height; I shall not fall. My safety and glory are with God, my strong rock and refuge. Trust God at all times, my people! Pour out your hearts to God our refuge! Selah" (verses 2-9).
The word "סֶלָה" transliterated as selāh (i.e., Selah) sparks curiosity. It does not mean "rock," but is often translated as such. The Hebrew for "rock" is סֶלַע, or sela'. There are several possibilities given for what selāh might mean: "stop and listen," or "forever," or, from a root word, even "to weigh." I don't know why I wanted to introduce that, but it is curious for the average reader to repeatedly encounter this word while reading the Psalms.

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