Penitential Psalms 2: Psalm 32

The second of the penitential psalms, Psalm 32 is also labelled “Of David.” Previously I noted that Psalm 6 makes the turn from pleading with God for forgiveness/healing/change seem rapid as the poem is not that long, and the psalmist only seems to be crying “How long” for a short time as we read it. Psalm 32 begins with a statement of blessing, which seems to indicate that the psalmist writes AFTER praying for and receiving forgiveness from God. The psalm reflects back on the writer’s experience, it does not speak from inside the experience.

Like Psalm 6, Psalm 32 refers to the bones of the penitent. Interesting. I wonder what that is about? Psalm 6 talked about healing, Psalm 32 talks about deliverance. I wonder if those two ideas are related?

Psalm 32 also contains wisdom language — instruct, teach, way, guide. The wisdom language is concentrated in verses 8-9. The voice in verses 8&9 sounds like God talking to the psalmist. In light of the rest of the psalm, maybe God is offering to assist the penitent move forward and avoid the sins of the past in the future. God seems to be providing help for the penitent to change and live well. Maybe the instruction and teaching of the right way are the songs of deliverance God surrounds the penitent with?


In other news I’m still reading about the virtues. Interestingly both Modesty and Temperance were strongly connected with self-control. Modesty “implies not inadequacy but power, recognized and controlled.” Powers must be held in check if it is not the proper time to use them. Temperance is “the kind of virtue we associate with tempered steel, a steadiness, a reliablility, a suitability for the purpose at hand.” Christian temperance has the additional quality of accepting all material things, but also being able to give them up. “When we say, ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body’ we are recognizing a kind of divine temperance, acknowledging that the physical world is something to be given up in death and yet worth while taking up again in resurrection.”

Things that make you go hmm.

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