Christianity 201

August 9, 2012

Seven Penitential Psalms

Most of us are familiar with Psalm 51, David’s prayer of repentance following his affair with Bathsheba. But we’re less familiar with the idea that there are actually seven ‘penitential’ psalms: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143; although Psalm 102 does not contain a specific confession of sin.  Here are the seven, each from a different translation, with key verses underlined:

Psalm 6

New International Version (NIV)

Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?

I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
they fail because of all my foes.

Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

Psalm 32

Contemporary English Version (CEV)

Our God, you bless everyone
whose sins you forgive
and wipe away.
You bless them by saying,
“You told me your sins,
without trying to hide them,
and now I forgive you.”

Before I confessed my sins,
my bones felt limp,
and I groaned all day long.
Night and day your hand
weighed heavily on me,
and my strength was gone
as in the summer heat.

So I confessed my sins
and told them all to you.
I said, “I’ll tell the Lord
each one of my sins.”
Then you forgave me
and took away my guilt.

We worship you, Lord,
and we should always pray
whenever we find out
that we have sinned.
Then we won’t be swept away
by a raging flood.
You are my hiding place!
You protect me from trouble,
and you put songs in my heart
because you have saved me.

You said to me,
“I will point out the road
that you should follow.
I will be your teacher
and watch over you.
Don’t be stupid
like horses and mules
that must be led with ropes
to make them obey.”

10 All kinds of troubles
will strike the wicked,
but your kindness shields those
who trust you, Lord.
11 And so your good people
should celebrate and shout.

Psalm 38

GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

A psalm by David; to be kept in mind.

  O Lord, do not angrily punish me
or discipline me in your wrath.
        Your arrows have struck me.
Your hand has struck me hard.
No healthy spot is left on my body
because of your rage.
There is no peace in my bones
because of my sin.

My guilt has overwhelmed me.
    Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear.
My wounds smell rotten.
They fester because of my stupidity.
I am bent over and bowed down very low.
All day I walk around in mourning.
My insides are filled with burning pain,
and no healthy spot is left on my body.
I am numb and completely devastated.
I roar because my heart’s in turmoil.
You know all my desires, O Lord,
    and my groaning has not been hidden from you.
10 My heart is pounding.
I have lost my strength.
Even the light of my eyes has left me.

11 My loved ones and my friends keep their distance
and my relatives stand far away because of my sickness.
12 Those who seek my life lay traps for me.
Those who are out to harm me talk about ruining me.
All day long they think of ways to deceive me.
13 But I am like a person who cannot hear
and like a person who cannot speak.
14 I am like one who cannot hear
and who can offer no arguments.

15 But I wait with hope for you, O Lord.
You will answer, O Lord, my God.
16 I said, “Do not let them gloat over me.
When my foot slips,
do not let them promote themselves at my expense.”
17 I am ready to fall.
I am continually aware of my pain.
18 I confess my guilt.
My sin troubles me.

19 My mortal enemies are growing stronger.
Many hate me for no reason.
20 They pay me back with evil instead of good,
and they accuse me because I try to do what is good.

21 Do not abandon me, O Lord.
O my God, do not be so distant from me.
22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my savior.

Psalm 51

The Message (MSG)

Psalm 51

1-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
      it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
      give me a clean bill of health.
   God, make a fresh start in me,
      shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!

Psalm 102

New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Lord, hear my prayer!
    Listen to my plea!
2 Don’t turn away from me
    in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
and answer me quickly when I call to you.
For my days disappear like smoke,
and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
and I have lost my appetite.
Because of my groaning,
I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like an owl in the desert,
like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
I lie awake,
lonely as a solitary bird on the roof.
My enemies taunt me day after day.
They mock and curse me.
I eat ashes for food.
My tears run down into my drink
10 because of your anger and wrath.
For you have picked me up and thrown me out.
11 My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows.
I am withering away like grass.

12 But you, O Lord, will sit on your throne forever.
Your fame will endure to every generation.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem—
and now is the time to pity her,
now is the time you promised to help.
14 For your people love every stone in her walls
and cherish even the dust in her streets.
15 Then the nations will tremble before the Lord.
The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem.
He will appear in his glory.
17 He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
He will not reject their pleas.

18 Let this be recorded for future generations,
so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord.
19 Tell them the Lord looked down
from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven
20     to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to release those condemned to die.
21 And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
his praises in Jerusalem,
22 when multitudes gather together
and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.

23 He broke my strength in midlife,
cutting short my days.
24 But I cried to him, “O my God, who lives forever,
don’t take my life while I am so young!
25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth
and made the heavens with your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain forever;
they will wear out like old clothing.
You will change them like a garment
and discard them.
27 But you are always the same;
you will live forever.
28 The children of your people
will live in security.
Their children’s children
will thrive in your presence.”

Psalm 130

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

  Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord.

Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

Psalm 143

New Century Version (NCV)

 1 Lord, hear my prayer;
       listen to my cry for mercy.
    Answer me
       because you are loyal and good.
 2 Don’t judge me, your servant,
       because no one alive is right before you.
 3 My enemies are chasing me;
       they crushed me to the ground.
    They made me live in darkness
       like those long dead.
 4 I am afraid;
       my courage is gone.

 5 I remember what happened long ago;
       I consider everything you have done.
       I think about all you have made.
 6 I lift my hands to you in prayer.
       As a dry land needs rain, I thirst for you.
                         Selah

  7 Lord, answer me quickly,
       because I am getting weak.
    Don’t turn away from me,
       or I will be like those who are dead.
 8 Tell me in the morning about your love,
       because I trust you.
    Show me what I should do,
       because my prayers go up to you.
 9 Lord, save me from my enemies;
       I hide in you.
 10 Teach me to do what you want,
       because you are my God.
    Let your good Spirit
       lead me on level ground.

 11 Lord, let me live
       so people will praise you.
    In your goodness
       save me from my troubles.
 12 In your love defeat my enemies.
       Destroy all those who trouble me,
       because I am your servant.

 

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