«Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults» (Psalm 19:12).
A FEW YEARS AGO, my husband and I met a young man who studied at the same university we did. One day, controlled by anger and frustration, this young man beat his wife to death. The only thing that occurred to him at that moment was to conceal his sin: he hid the victim’s corpse under the wooden planks of the floor. As the days went by, he felt more and more confident that his sin had gone unnoticed, until the police finally discovered the body, already decomposed, of that woman who had been his wife. His sin was discovered because «everything that is hidden will eventually be brought into the open, and every secret will be brought to light» (Mark 4:22, NLT). For that murder, the young man spent many years in prison. For sure, in all those years in prison he came to understand that what is hidden, sooner or later, comes to light.
While we can hide, with a bit of effort, some of our sins so that people with whom we interact do not become aware of them, it is difficult for us to deceive ourselves. We know well our own way of thinking and acting, and we have discernment to know whether or not it is in accordance with what God expects of us. However, the Bible contemplates the possibility that some of our faults are unknown to us.
The psalmist prays to God: «Cleanse me from secret faults.» The word «fault» that we read in the passage is shagah in the original Hebrew, which means «to err inadvertently.» is, it may be the case that our way of thinking and acting is a mistake, a fault, a sin, of which we are not even aware. We would do well to ask God to free us from those mistakes or to help us detect them through His Holy Spirit.
It is clear that we have to learn to pray, and in that regard, the Bible is also the great teacher. It presents model prayers and concepts that we can integrate into our daily prayer routine. For example, we can include asking for forgiveness for what we do not even know we are doing wrong. May our prayer today be: «Lord, open my eyes so that I may see those errors which I do not even realize.» Amen.