Psalm 32 (NRSV)
Verse 1Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Verse 2Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Verse 3While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
Verse 4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Verse 5Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Verse 6Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
Verse 7You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
Verse 8I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Verse 9Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
Verse 10Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Verse 11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
This psalm harkens back to the Exodus story, recalling contrasts: sin and forgiveness, torment and joy, the wicked and the faithful, suffering and deliverance. The sharp images in these verses—the poet's groaning, the shrinking or wasting away of the human body, the temperament of livestock, the flooding and receding of waters, the heat of summer—evoke a sense of Israel wandering in the wilderness. The suggestion is that Israel's wandering is never static, but is a constant mystery, an active struggle. Every day in the desert brings the Israelites into the unknown and forces them to acknowledge how exposed and vulnerable they are.
We certainly experience moments of feeling exposed—seasons of vulnerability. So let us take inspiration from the poet's response and be honest about that. Let us call out to God, asking for our sins to be covered, for iniquity and deceit to leave us, and for a faithful path to be laid before us.
God, thank you for the essence of who you are—refuge, righteousness, liberation, steadfast love. Help me break my silence today, ask for your forgiveness, and shout for joy, rejoicing in you! Amen.