what is diapsalmata?

Diapsalmata, meaning “refrain” or “repetition,” has been defined as, “a word that recurs in the Psalms of David at the end of a verse, and which can easily acquire the meaning… of ‘refrains’, i.e. something (for example a mood) repeated over and over again” (See Kierkegaard, Either/Or, “Preface” 31 n4). Though not found among the classical writings, the term was used in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Jewish Testament) as the plural Greek form of the Hebrew “selah,” meaning “suspension (of music), i.e. pause.”

I have borrowed the idea to portray the pause between faith and doubt; the hushed and holy silence that comes in the course of a life — a theme reflected in the Psalms to which they refer.

The Psalms reflect life in the major and the minor keys, with all the suspended space in between. Majesty and misery converge, rage and grace concur. And the heart of God was not afraid to record the angry dismay of His saints — the ones who brokenly asked “why”. No, nor was He afraid to trace the tears of His fainting ones — the ones too crushed to even wonder. And so, for every Peter who has whispered,”Go away from me Lord,” for every David who has cried out, “Look away from me, that I may smile again!” For every Mary who has wept with a voiceless sorrow, for every one of us who has wrestled hard in His hand, there is grace. There is peace. He knows how we pray when we are desperate and He knows how to hold us when we weep.

Perhaps there is no immediate answer to what you are facing — whether loss or regret, or one of those inevitable, inescapable seasons of life. Or maybe the color of your question is tinged with shades of other things; we all have our own unique hue. But He loves you, my friend. He loves you. His promise is the rainbow if only we endure the storm.

Maybe that’s it after all. Maybe we can only relish the splendor of the rainbow after the darkness of the storm. And maybe what we took for howling wind was really a holy round of hallelujahs — a chorus of praise from those far-off saints; the once trembling lips of broken sinners, now empowered with the sound of continual praise.

This is my diaspalmata in two movements.

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2 thoughts on “what is diapsalmata?

  1. How beautiful with astounding and resounding truth. By HIS grace we are surely saved and are blessed to continuously rest on HIS promise!

  2. Amen! There is grace for every doubt, for every question, for every moment — regardless of the need. He is God. And He is enough. Thank you for reminding me; I needed to hear that today.

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