A Song for Repentance
By David. A contemplative psalm.
1 Blessed is he whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom YHWH doesn’t impute iniquity,
in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 When I kept silence, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me.
My strength was sapped in the heat of summer.
5 I acknowledged my sin to you.
I didn’t hide my iniquity.
I said, I will confess my transgressions to YHWH,
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
6 For this, let everyone who is godly pray to you in a
time when you may be found.
Surely when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach to him.
7 You are my hiding place.
You will preserve me from trouble.
You will surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you
I will counsel you with my eye on you.
9 Don’t be like the horse, or like the mule, which have no understanding,
who are controlled by bit and bridle, or else they will not come near to you.
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but loving kindness shall surround him who trusts in YHWH.
11 Be glad in YHWH, and rejoice, you righteous!
Shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart!
What are the benefits of confessing sin?
We are moral beings. Our sense of morality affects our psychological (even physical) health. Doing good can give us a sense of well being. Sin can give us a sense of imbalance, even depression. How can we overcome the results of sin and reset balance? We can confess our wrong doing and ask for forgiveness.
Confession and forgiveness were at the root of Psalm 32. It was a penitential song written from experience. The psalm included a beatitude for the forgiven sinner, a personal witness of confession, a teaching from the former sinner, and an admonition to the present sinner.
Unlike many other psalms who praised the righteous, Psalm 32 held up the forgiven sinner as the blessed. This blessing began with confession. Before an acknowledging his evil, the sinner suffered torment. Some scholars insist the psalmist reflected the belief that sin caused physical ailments; other scholars simply equate the suffering as the manifestation of the a guilty conscience. The belief of relief on a cosmic scale did reflect the world view of the people at the time. The Hebrews held natural catastrophes (like floods) were caused by sin (of king and populace). Confession of sin could relieve the threat of such catastrophes. (Of course, the “flood waters” could be seen as metaphorical.)
With the beatitude declaration and personal witness, the psalmist could now teach from experience. His admonitions to sinners would carry more weight. His guidance would be wise. (32:9 was strange in this context since it could be seen as an insult; yet, insults were part of everyday life in Semitic cultures.)
The psalm ended with an exhortation for moral living. Sinners would suffer, but the righteous would be surrounded by the covenant love of God.
Psalm 32 spoke as much from human experience as it did from the mercy of God. Confession is good for the soul. It humbles us and allows us to see God in spite of our failings. Truly, the forgiven are blessed, for forgiveness is a blessing.
Take some time today to examine your conscience. Place your triumphs and failures before the Lord. Ask for his forgiveness, healing, and blessing. He will not disappoint you.