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Second chance

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32.5


The next Penitential Psalm is number 32: A Maskil of David. Scholars are not sure what maskil means but its root concerns teaching and, from the way in which the Psalm develops, we may assume that it indicates a lesson, perhaps in the form of a cautionary tale. Could this even be the sequel to Psalm 51, where David pours out his heart to God in the wake of his confrontation by Nathan following his adultery with Bathsheba and his arranged killing of her husband Uriah?


This Psalm is indeed ascribed to David and it describes a man who is suffering on account of his own moral failure. So deep is his distress that both body and soul (2 sides of the same coin remember!) are in torment. The turning point comes in verse 5, when the sinner (David) acknowledges his guilt and throws himself on the mercy of God, whereupon he finds relief and recovers his strength.


Of course damage has been done. There are consequences to sin. Others may be affected. We must live with that and do our best to make reparation. But, in repentance and faith, we can know the support of God, who will enable us to do whatever is necessary and make a fresh start. None of this is easy yet, with God, it becomes possible. Selah is another Hebrew term whose precise meaning has been lost. It is generally regarded as an invitation to pause and reflect. That invitation occurs three times in this Psalm: in expression of David's anguish, in appreciation of the Lord's intervention and to confirm the security of his blessing.

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