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    The Porch for March 31 19
    Psalm 32 ~ Lent 4

    Verses
    Superscription – Of David. A Maskil.
    – Maskil probably means enlightened or wise, and here suggests a contemplative wisdom prayer

    1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
    – Happy – blessed
    – Transgression – rebellion (against God), trespass
    – Forgiven – lit. lifted
    – In what ways do we rebel against God? (How about you personally?)

    2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
    – Imputes – calculates, considers, reckons
    – Iniquity – guilt
    – Spirit – ruach
    – Do you think God holds things against us?

    3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
    – Kept silence – not as a prayer but as a strategy of “holding one’s peace”
    – Body wasted away – lit. bones grew old – fig. my essence got worn out
    – Groaning – roaring, distress
    – Have you ever been worn out by situations you couldn’t/wouldn’t speak about?

    4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up – as by the heat of summer. Selah
    – Hand – as in power
    – Heavy – weighty, burdensome
    – Strength – actually “juice” or “vitality”
    – Heat – drought
    – Has God’s hand ever felt burdensome on you?
    – Have you ever felt your spiritual vitality drained because of troubles?

    – Selah – is the actual Hebrew word – no agreement on exact meaning – probably indicates a weighty pause for reflection – like us saying, “Word” or “Damn straight!” or “Truth!” – it draws thoughtful pondering attention to the phrase just sang/spoken

    5 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. Selah
    – Then… – When?
    – Acknowledged = said out loud!!!
    – Confess – lit. throw at, cast – also means praise – it’s quite an animated word
    – Forgave – again, lit. “lifted”
    – What happens when we finally get what’s troubling us off our chest?

    6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
    – First clause could finish at comma not semi-colon
    – Distress – may be found – “…offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found”
    – The flood of great waters shall not come near those (who offer such prayers).
    – IOW, if you’re faithful pray and don’t keep it bottled up.

    7 You are a hiding-place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
    – Trouble – lit. narrow straights (tight spots?)
    – Glad cries – also songs
    – Describe the psalmist’s feelings now that they’ve confessed!

    8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
    – Who is speaking now? (Or to whom are they speaking?) How have speaker/audience changed?
    – What do you think “counsel you with my eye” means? (the “upon you” part was added in English)

    9 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.
    – A very colourful image!
    – Does this ever apply to you?

    10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
    – Torments – sorrows, pain, sufferings
    – Wicked – those hostile to God
    – Steadfast love – hesed
    – Trust – have confidence in, be bold in
    – Who are these “wicked” ones the psalmist refers to? Are they others? Or maybe it’s simply those who don’t follow this psalm and don’t confess! – Discuss!

    11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
    – Upright – straight, correct, pleasing
    – Heart – inner being/person, mind, will, understanding
    – What is the payoff (benefit) of faithfulness for you?

    Thoughts

    We love talking about the sin and injustice of the world and the system – but not about our own. How come?

    Why do “mainline” protestants especially have a hard time with “sin” language?
    (Catholics and Evangelicals do not!)

    How is “sin” treated/theologized in Catholic and/or Evangelical (or “conservative”) theologies?

    “Sin” or “Sinfulness”? Actions, or state of being? (or both?)
    – Discuss!

    “Sin” in Hebrew primarily means “offence”.
    Against whom?
    Judged by what standard?

    Why is it hard to acknowledge that we may have done wrong, fallen short?

    And yet, what does the psalmist say happens when we don’t acknowledge this?

    “Sin sucks the life out of the psalmist. The point is that silence about sin, according to the psalmist, can be deadly. It allows sin to fester and spread and ravage like a cancer coursing through the body and mind.” [Working Preacher]
    – Discuss!

    Does God’s reaction in this psalm surprise you? Why/not? (v.5)

    Perhaps the most astonishing thing about this psalm is that it undercuts all our foolish thoughts that seeking God’s forgiveness requires some Herculean penitential effort. And yet clearly that is not true here.

    – So why do we make it so hard on ourselves?

    Does God “ignore” sin?
    What does God do?
    Why is that important for us?

    If this is the case then why do we hesitate to confess?

    And after we confess why do we still continue to carry around the burden?

    How does the idea of Confession tie in with the gospel lesson of the Prodigal Son(s)?
    in Luke 15

    Psalm 32 (Lent 4, prodigals) as a “festival to celebrate forgiveness”!
    – Discuss!

    How does sin and forgiveness work among and between humans in our relationships?

    Do you find it easier to seek forgiveness, or to forgive people? Why?

    “Forgiveness is counter-cultural! Forgiveness is radical! Forgiveness changes the world! Forgiveness changes us!” [WP]
    – Discuss!

    Shalom!

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