By Mary Abrahamson
In the Christian church, seven Psalms have historically been classified as the Penitential Psalms. These psalms focus on our sin and our need for a Savior. Some show how a particular sin or sinful lifestyle can eat at us. Others meditate more generally on sinful nature or sin in the world. On repentance and salvation, too, some are more specific and others more general.
These Psalms have been used in a variety of liturgical devotional ways throughout the history of Christianity. Some traditions use them during all of Lent; others use one Psalm a day during Holy week. The Eastern church uses them in specific liturgical rites during the hourly offices for the Passion days of Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
The penitential Psalms are as follows. Most of them are known liturgically by their Latin names, which come from the first line.
Psalm 6 Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me
O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation
Psalm 32, Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven
Psalm 38, Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me (in rememorationem de sabbato)
O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation (For a remembrance of the Sabbath)
Psalm 51, Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam
Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy
Psalm 102, Domine, exaudi orationem meam, et clamor meus ad te veniat
O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee.
Psalm 130, De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine
Out of the depths I have cried to thee, O Lord.
Psalm 143, Domine, exaudi orationem meam: auribus percipe obsecrationem meam in veritate tua
Hear, O Lord, my prayer: give ear to my supplication in thy truth.
My family and I are planning to read one of these Psalms each day this week as we prepare for the Passion of our Lord. We started with Psalm 6 last night. As time allows, I will post a short meditation on each of the Psalms.
For those who are interested in further study of these Psalms, Pastor Eric Andersen published a series of Lenten devotions based upon these Psalms a few years ago in the Around the Word Bible Studies. You can find them at this link if you scroll down to the bottom.