Day 159: Psalms 31-34; Penitential Prayer

Psalm 32 Photo Credit:

Psalm 32
Photo Credit:

The idea of Penitence is not a popular one in today’s culture.  Penitence is the act in which we humble ourselves before God and confess our sins to Him.  For some this is boiled down to simply admitting that we did something wrong.  This is not something that we like to do in our culture today.  Our leaders emulate a culture of blame and pointing fingers, never truly admitting that what has happened and what was done was in any way their fault.  We see this time and again, in tragedies and in recent governmental scandals, that everyone always points fingers until someone (who usually isn’t actually the culprit) takes the fall.  Even in this time, we usually hear some sort of thinly veiled apology, but never a request for forgiveness… never a penitential attitude… and certainly never the willingness to forgive.

Still others think that this is a wholly unnecessary part of the Christian life in that we are forgiven people that have been washed in Jesus blood.  For them, Christian freedom is the freedom to do whatever one wants because of the forgiveness that has been given to us.  While this notion of sin and forgiveness does pick up on the Truth that we are both sinners and we are forgiven, it would be entirely wrong to say that as Christians we are able to do whatever we wan t because of our forgiveness.  Paul picks up this theme throughout the book Romans, touching on this particular topic in Romans 6.

Psalm 32:8 Photo Credit:

Psalm 32:8
Photo Credit:

For others, it is a humbling act in which we lay open our lives before God on a continual basis understanding that the truth of the Gospel is not solely about the condemnation of sin, but about the grace that is received in Christ.  In the same way that we have a time of confession and assurance of our pardon in worship services, we do this in our everyday lives as well.  This is an act of remembering the reality in which we live, on that is overflowing with grace!  We also remember the reality from which we came, one in which we were trapped in sin and, as Psalm 32 says, it was causing us to waste away to nothing.  David writes though that those who confess their sins are blessed because they are forgiven.  He goes on to write that they are continually blessed because in a penitential attitude, people also find the instruction of the Lord and learn how to live their lives in a way that honors and glorifies Him.  In that we can rejoice, as David writes, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.  Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

PSALM 31 is a Psalm of lament, again written by David.  The words of verse 5 are also words that Jesus spoke when He was on the cross, “Into Your hands I commit my spirit…”  Interestingly, there is a bit of a contrast between this Psalm and the attitude of Jesus on the cross.  Psalm 31 has an imprecatory nature swirling around it, however Jesus prayed for those that crucified Him asking the Lord to forgive them rather than punish them.

PSALM 32 is both a song of thanksgiving and a penitential prayer.  David is thankful for the forgiveness He receives, but also continually prays for forgiveness for all that he does in his life.  This Psalm has a didactic quality to it as well, teaching of the benefits that come along with submitting ourselves to the Lord.

PSALM 33 is a Psalm of praise that is written anonymously.  Apart from being full of praise and adoration for the Lord, this Psalm also exhibits trust in the Lord because of all He has done.

PSALM 34 is a Psalm of Thanksgiving that is also written as an acrostic.  David wrote this Psalm when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, a narrative recorded in 1 Samuel 21.  This Psalm is also didactic in nature, teachig and telling of all the many ways that God has been good to David and how He has protected David.

5 Responses to “Day 159: Psalms 31-34; Penitential Prayer”

  1. Day 159: Psalms 31-34; Penitential Prayer | Through the Eyes of This Calvinist says:

    […] Day 159: Psalms 31-34; Penitential Prayer. […]

  2. […] Day 159: Psalms 31-34; Penitential Prayer ( […]

  3. […] Psalm 33:6 – By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. […]

  4. […] can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly, why does God want them preached so pointedly?    Psalm 32:5 – Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I […]

  5. […] do Christians need to pray?    Psalm 32:5 – Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I […]

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