Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
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.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!
This Psalm affirms confession – the admission and unburdening of our failings and weaknesses before God – as a profoundly healing act. Some scholars, who ascribe some degree of authorship of the psalms to King David, see a link between these words and David’s confession of his sinful actions over Bathsheba and Uriah as described in chapters 11 and 12 of the Second Book of Samuel.
More recently, the striking imagery of verses 6 and 7 is known to have been the inspiration for Charles Wesley’s deeply personal hymn, ‘Jesu, lover of my soul’ as well as forming the lyric for Michael Ledner’s popular modern worship song, ‘You are my hiding place’.
The Psalm challenges us to experience confession as a true abandoning of deceit, and an uncovering of sins, which in turn lead us to God’s forgiveness for our failings as a gracious gift which is ours to claim and which renews our lives.
God of forgiveness,
help me to know when I need to put things right,
when I need be vulnerable to how others perceive me,
and when I need to be honest with you about my thoughts and deeds.
These things I ask knowing that your forgiveness is assured and will renew my spirit.
Philip Jones is a serving Elder at Wilbraham St Ninian’s, Chorlton, Manchester
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