Psalm 032

The 7 penitential psalms of Christians though the NAB titles many of them “psalms in times of distress”

St. Augustine had psalm 32 posted over his bed, to see it first thing in the morning.

McCann points out it moves from silent guilt to confession to joyful witness to God’s forgiving love.

1  Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one whose fault is removed,

whose sin is forgiven.

2  Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no guilt,

in whose spirit is no deceit.


3  Because I kept silent,  my bones wasted away;

I groaned all day long.

4  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;

my strength withered as in dry summer heat.



5  Then I declared my sin to you;

my guilt I did not hide.

I said, “I confess my transgression to the LORD,”

and you took away the guilt of my sin.



6  Therefore every loyal person should pray to you

in time of distress.

Though flood waters* threaten,

they will never reach him.

7  You are my shelter; you guard me from distress;

with joyful shouts of deliverance you surround me.



8    I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk,

give you counsel with my eye upon you.

9  Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding;

with bit and bridle their temper is curbed,

else they will not come to you.

10  Many are the sorrows of the wicked one,

but mercy surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

11  Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous;

exult, all you upright of heart.


Verses 1 and 2 notes

Maskil – another transliteration, we don’t know what the word means


“Happy” and some other word links) indicates that the tradition intends for Psalm 1 to dialogue with this one.  True wisdom (psalm 1) = recognition of self as sinner and the forgiving love of God for us.  Wisdom is an understanding of who we really are and (partially) who God is.


McCann p. 60: “To be righteous means, in essence, to be forgiven.  Thus the righteous in the Psalms are those who live by grace.”


We don’t have to be perfect – for others or for ourselves.  If we can let that desire / deception go we can be forgiven and know peace.


Verses 3 and 4 notes

Sin always takes its toll.  God has no need to keep track of our sins – our spirits carry the scars and the impact, even over time and even though we are forgiven.


“heavy hand over me” – no God punishing us but our own sense of guild and deception


“Selah” – another transliteration, we don’t know what the word means.


Verse 5 notes

The is the central line of the psalm, a pivotal verse.  Set off by the Selah’s


This is the confession / admission of guilt.  God forgives – quickly, as if God were waiting to do so.  (Some scholars, in 70’s, suggested a penitential liturgy as the setting, with an overnight stay or an oracle in between.)


God “lifts away” the burden of our sin.  (Christian theology of the cross picks up on this).  McCann notes that if this is grace then the previous silence is a rejection of the offer of grace (until the silence is broken) – even as we are outwardly good or even “perfect”.


p. 63: ‘… righteousness derives not from doing everything right but from confronting and confessing one’s essential sinfulness and living in fundamental dependence upon the grace of God.”


Verses 6 – 11 notes

“safety” (v 6  and “love” surrounds those who accept God’s grace



Psalm 32 for today

Sin has nearly disappeared from our vocabulary – even in religious contexts.  Unless it is something “those people” are doing.


Calls for accepting personal responsibility for the things we do –  not necessarily 100% but not 0% either.


Why are we reluctant to acknowledge and confess our sin?  Revised Rite of Penance?  Exagerrated modern sense of autonomy / freedom – who should judge ME?


Can we know and have grace if we don’t have and know sin?????


1         For the leader. A psalm of David,

2         when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.


3  Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love;

in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.

4  Thoroughly wash away my guilt;

and from my sin cleanse me.

5  For I know my transgressions;

my sin is always before me.

6  Against you, you alone have I sinned;

I have done what is evil in your eyes

So that you are just in your word,

and without reproach in your judgment.


7  Behold, I was born in guilt,

in sin my mother conceived me.

8  Behold, you desire true sincerity;

and secretly you teach me wisdom.

9  Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

10 You will let me hear gladness and joy;

the bones you have crushed will rejoice.




11 Turn away your face from my sins;

blot out all my iniquities.

12 A clean heart create for me, God;

renew within me a steadfast spirit.

13 Do not drive me from before your face,

nor take from me your holy spirit.

14 Restore to me the gladness of your salvation;


uphold me with a willing spirit.

15 I will teach the wicked your ways,

that sinners may return to you.

16 Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God,

and my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.

17 Lord, you will open my lips;

and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

18 For you do not desire sacrifice* or I would give it;

a burnt offering you would not accept.

19 My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.




20 Treat Zion kindly according to your good will;

build up the walls of Jerusalem.

21 Then you will desire the sacrifices of the just,

burnt offering and whole offerings;

then they will offer up young bulls on your altar.



Psalm 130

1  A song of ascents.

Out of the depths I call to you, LORD;

2   Lord, hear my cry!

May your ears be attentive

to my cry for mercy.


3   If you, LORD, keep account of sins,

Lord, who can stand?

4  But with you is forgiveness

and so you are revered.




5   I wait for the LORD,

my soul waits

and I hope for his word.


6   My soul looks for the Lord

more than sentinels for daybreak.

More than sentinels for daybreak,

7   let Israel hope in the LORD,

For with the LORD is mercy,

with him is plenteous redemption,

8   And he will redeem Israel

from all its sins.


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