Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Penitential Psalms (part 2) - Psalm 32

I've been dreading this post.... because that red alert word is used in it "imputes" and "covered", it's like admitting defeat. But I don't really want to get into a huge debate about justification, I'll simply say that maybe the Roman Catholic Church needs to re-read this Psalm, it's the one infamously quoted by St. Paul in Romans 4 and by Protestants everywhere as the imputation proof text, which the text actually seems to support.

But I'll note this, it's not the imputation of sin to Christ that Trent anathema'd (I'm pretty sure), we can believe that, it's the imputation of Christ's active obedience/righteousness to us which they excommunicated.

There's a big difference saying 'Jesus' blood covered my sins', and saying 'when God looks at me, he sees Christ's active obedience and allows my sinful unregenerate nature to enter Heaven, without any personal transformation'. I think that's the difference. Our sin is removed "imputed" to Christ at our baptism/moment of sola fide, then we are increasingly justified as the grace of the Holy Spirit is infused into us and we are transformed into the image of Christ.

And I think that's what the Psalm basically teaches, blessed are those who God doesn't consider sinful, but rather have a right spirit and act righteously and fear God.

Anyway, here's the Psalm.

Psalm 32

The Joy of Forgiveness
Of David. A Maskil.
"Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Then 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.

Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you; at a time of distress,
the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do 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.

Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart."

I love the lines about God being our hiding place, this idea is more creepily illustrated in the Catholic prayer "Jesus hide me in your wounds" (which I think sounds weird)

I like that David describes the righteous (those who trust in the Lord) as almost in a tornado of love. It surrounds them, and they shout for joy. What a gift and encouragement the scriptures are.

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