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Covered Sins - Psalm 32

A service plan for Lent focused on Psalm 32, which expresses guilt, humble confession, and the peace of being forgiven in a Lenten series on the Psalms.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Psalms for a Lenten Journey

This series of worship services for Lent is built around a sampling of the Psalms.

Theme of the Service

This is the third of this series of Psalms for a Lenten Journey, and this time of worship is formed by the message of Psalm 32. (See the material provided for an introduction to the season of Lent, suggestions for worship planning during this season, and a listing of the Psalms that will be included throughout this season.)

Psalm 32 is a well-known Psalm for its pointed expression of the experience of guilt, its humble confession, and its joyful expression of peace that comes through being pardoned. These themes shape this worship service. Contrary to the normal pattern, you will find that the Service of Confession/Renewal in this service takes place after the sermon. The sermon on this rich Psalm calls us and prepares us to make our confessions, and we respond by doing so.

We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of Carl Bosma, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary, who will be providing helpful information on each of the Psalms during this season. You will find the information he has provided at the end of the worship service.

* * * * *


Prelude: Settings of Psalm 103
or: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” [see music notes]

The Call to Worship: Psalm 32:11

*Song of Praise: "O Come, My Soul, Sing Praise to God" PsH 297:1-2; TH 6:1-2

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
Brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, in whom do you trust?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Response of Praise: "Bless His Holy Name" PsH 627, RN 16, TWC 36, WOV 798


The Prayer for Illumination:
Blessed are you, God of all creation.
You spoke in the beginning, and all things came to be.
You spoke, and your Word came to live with us,
Full of grace and truth.
Bless this place where we would hear your voice.
Bless this place where we would hear your story.
As we listen, may our ears be attuned to you.
As the Word is spoken, may your speak to us.
May all we hear lead us to you.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. (TWS, 3.1.26)

The Old Testament Reading: Psalm 32
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The New Testament Reading: Romans 5:1-11
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sung Scripture: "How Blest Are They Who Trespass" PsH 32:1-2; TH 551:1-2

[Psalms for a Lenten Journey #3]

*Song of Faith: "My God, How Wonderful You Are" PsH 499:3-5; TH 35:3-5


The Call to Confession:

Because we trust in God's covenant faithfulness, we are free to make our confession to God and call for his compassion. Let us, therefore, confess our sins that we may be renewed in his grace.

The Prayer of Confession:

O Master, great and awesome God.
You never waver in your covenant commitment,
never give up on those who love you and do what you say.
Yet we have sinned in every way imaginable.
We've done evil things, rebelled, dodged
and taken detours around your clearly marked paths.

Compassion is our only hope,
the compassion of you, the Master, our God,
since in our rebellion we've forfeited our rights.
Master, you are our God,
for you delivered your people
from the land of Egypt in such a show of power that
people are still talking about it!
We confess that we have sinned,
that we have lived bad lives.

Turn your ears our way, God, and listen.
Open your eyes and take a long look at us,
your people named after you.
We know that we don't deserve a hearing from you.
Our appeal is to your compassion.
This prayer is our last and only hope:
Master, listen to us!
Master, forgive us!
Through Christ, your Lamb, our Lord. Amen.
(adapted from Daniel 9 in The Message)

The Assurance of Pardon:

The Gospel of Christ speaks to us of the pardon we may have through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Please rise for the reading of the Gospel.

(The worshipers rise.)

The reading of John 10:7-10
This is the Gospel of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

On the basis of the Gospel of Christ,
we may be assured that our sins
are forgiven for the sake of Christ.

Our Psalm for today declares:
"Blessed is he whose transgression are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit." (Psalm 32:1,2)

Passing the Peace
The Peace of Christ be with you all.
And also with you.

(The worshipers greet each other saying, "The peace of Christ be with you".)

Our Grateful Affirmation:

I believe that every thing God reveals in his Word is true.
I also believe that true faith is not only a knowledge and conviction.
It is also a deep-rooted assurance,
created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel,
that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,
not only others, but I too,
have had my sins forgiven,
have been made forever right with God,
and have been granted salvation.
(from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 21)

Song of Testimony: "When Peace Like a River" PsH 489:1, 3; TH 691:1, 3; TWC 519:1, 3; UMH 377:1, 3

The Prayers of the People

The Offertory:
Our offering of music: “When Peace Like a River” [see music notes]
Our offering of gifts for….

[see liturgy notes]

The Welcome to the Table

Our Participation in the Bread

Our Participation in the Cup

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

*Our Song of Testimony: "My Jesus, I Love Thee" PsH 557: 1-2, RN 275:1-2, TH 648:1-2, TWC 100/101:1-2, UMH 172:1-2


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Song of Faith: "When Peace Like a River" PsH 489:2-3, TH 691:2-3; TWC 519:2-3; UMH 377:2-3

Postlude: “Choral Song”, Wesley [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand

* * * * *

Sermon Notes
Introduction to Psalm 32: “Forgiveness: The Gateway to Happiness"
by Carl Bosma

After the paired introduction to the Psalter, the next psalm that contains a beatitude is Psalm 32. Significantly, Psalm 32 belongs to a cluster of three psalms that contain beatitudes: Psalms 32, 33 and 34. Like Psalm 1, Psalm 32 also begins with a beatitude. Unlike Psalm 1, however, Psalm 32 begins with a double beatitude (cf. Ps 119:1-2). As in Psalm 119:1-2, the repetition of beatitudes in Psalm 32 hammers home the theme of genuine happiness, but with a different twist. According to the twice repeated expression “Happy are those,” in verses 1-2, divine forgiveness of sins is the gateway to happiness. As a result, “Psalm 32 serves as an important check against any tendency to misunderstand Psalm 1.”1

Psalm 32 has occupied a very significant place in Christian faith. Paul, for example, quotes the opening beatitudes in Romans 4:7-8 to support his claim that Genesis 15:6 teaches justification by faith. Moreover, tradition has it that Augustine had the words of this psalm engraved on the walls of his bedroom so that every time he got out of bed he would be reminded of its powerful words.2 Furthermore, Luther counted it as one of the Pauline psalms, along with Psalms 51, 130 and 143.3 Finally, probably because of verses 3-6, Psalm 32 has been numbered as the second of seven penitential psalms (Ps 6; 38; 51; 102; 130; and 143), which are often used in Lent.

Although Psalm 32 has been treated as a psalm of penance (cf. Ps 51), from a form critical perspective it is a modified psalm of thanksgiving by an individual,4 the flipside of the psalm of lament that precedes it (Psalm 315). The basis for this classification is the recollection of the psalmist’s experience in verses 3-7 and the emphasis on instruction in verses 8-10, which are constitutive elements of this type of psalm. As the flipside of a lament, Psalm 32 functions as a psalm of “new orientation,”6 and it is this new orientation that a sermon on this psalm should proclaim.

For homiletical purposes it is important to note that the setting of psalms of thanksgiving is the worship service (Ps 66.13-15). In this setting the primary function of this type of psalms is to witness to God’s mighty deeds (Ps 66.16) in order to motivate the audience to praise the LORD with him (Ps 32.11) and to instruct them about the benefits of these deeds so that they too will fear the LORD (Ps 34.11; 40.3).7 Because of its didactic nature the poem also lacks specific biographical details.8

Opinions differ on the compositional structure of this well-known psalm.9 The clear shift of addressee in verse 3 and verse 8 suggests that Psalm 32 consists of the following units: vv. 1-2, opening double beatitude; vv. 3-7, recollection of the psalmist’s experience for the benefit of the worshiping community; vv. 8-10, priestly instruction; and v. 11, a summons to praise.


A. Verses 1-2: The Happiness of the Forgiven Sinner

As we noted above, Psalm 32 begins with two beatitudes that recall the beatitudes of the two-part introduction to the Psalter (Ps 1.1-2; 2.12).10 Structurally, these introductory beatitudes are significantly different from the majority of beatitudes in the Psalter. As we noted in our exposition of Psalm 1, typically a beatitude begins with a congratulatory exclamation, “Oh the happiness of…,” and recipient, followed by a description of the conduct of the recipients (Ps 1.1-2). However, such is not the case in the exultant beatitudes of Psalm 32. In these beatitudes the person to whom happiness is ascribed is the recipient of God’s benevolent actions (Ps 94.12). He is not the actor!

In the first beatitude, for example, the congratulatory exclamation is followed by two substantive passive participial phrases that imply divine action: “whose rebellion has been borne (by God)” and “whose sin has been covered up (by God).”11 That God is the understood agent of the passive participles is clearly indicated in the second beatitude. In it the congratulatory exclamation and recipient are followed by a relative clause of which the LORD is the subject: “to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.”12 Genuine happiness, therefore, depends completely on God’s gracious initiative.

Two stylistic features of the opening beatitudes of Psalm 32 require special attention. The first feature is the repetition of key thematic words. To illumine the extent of divine forgiveness, three different verbal roots are employed in verses 1-2: “to carry,” “to cover,” and “to impute,” two of which are repeated in verse 5. Second, to avoid the reduction of human wrong doing to a cliché, verses 1-2 also employ the three most common words for wrong words and deeds in the O.T. (cf. Ps 51.1-5),13 each of which denotes a special aspect of human sin and is repeated in verse 5. The first, pasa c, a political term, means “to rebel.” The second term, hatta’, means “to miss the target” (cf. Jdg 20:16). And the third term, cawon, denotes a crooked act; it always entails the person’s conscience so that it also means “guilt.”14

The repetition of these synonymous terms for forgiveness and wrongdoing illumine the comprehensive scope of divine forgiveness and the radical and pervasive nature of human sin. In fact, a comparison with Leviticus 16:21, in which the same terms occur in inverse order, suggests that an expiation ritual is implied.15 Moreover, along with the double congratulatory exclamation, these repetitions bring center stage the primary theme of Psalm 32 and advocate emphatically divine forgiveness of sin as the gateway to happiness.

The second feature is that the second beatitude has a different compositional structure from the first. Like the first beatitude, it also consists of two descriptive statements. The first descriptive statement repeats and intensifies the concept of divine forgiveness. However, whereas the first beatitude underscores the implied atonement, the first descriptive statement of the second beatitude emphasizes the declaratory nature of divine forgiveness.16 Unlike Leviticus 7:18 and 17:4, in the second beatitude it is the LORD, not the priests, who does not declare the person guilty. Moreover, in verse 2 the second descriptive statement characterizes the human recipient (adam): “and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” To be really happy through divine forgiveness, the recipient’s spirit must not contain deceit because, as Cornelius Plantinga underscores, self-deception lies at the heart of human sin.17 Of course, one of the greatest acts of self-deception is the denial of sin (1 John 1.8).18 According to Proverbs 28:13, those who cover up their sin do not succeed in life. However, those who confess and abandon their rebellious acts will obtain mercy.

B. Verses 3-7: A Personal Testimony of Confession and Forgiveness

The concluding descriptive statement of the second beatitude forms an effective transition to the next section of Psalm 32, verses 3-7. These verses serve as the basis for the message of the two introductory beatitudes of verses 1-2 and stands at the center of the poem. In this report the psalmist recollects his own denial of sin and his experience of God’s immediate forgiveness when at last he confessed his sin. The shift of address in verses 4-7 shows that the psalmist’s extended report is addressed directly to the LORD but, as is evident from verse 6 and from the concluding call to praise in verse 11, it is also intended for those assembled at the worship center. By recounting his own experience the psalmist aims to teach the audience about the benefits of the practice of penitence.

The psalmist’s powerful testimony can be divided into three parts: verses 3-4, the pivotal verse 5 and verses 6-7. We will examine each section separately.

In the first section (vv. 3-4) the psalmist describes his traumatic experience of unconfessed sin. He acknowledges, first of all, in verse 3 that because he was stubbornly (v. 8) silent, he suffered awful psychosomatic torments (cf. Ps 38.5-8).19 Like Lady Macbeth, he suffered the guilt and punishment of his sin.20 Moreover, in verse 4, which is connected to verse 3 by means of the merismus “day and night,” he connects his suffering with God’s judgment “because day and night your hand was heavy on me.”21 In so doing, he acknowledges that in this particular case his affliction represented God’s disciplinary response to his sin.22

Verse 5, the pivotal verse of the psalmist’s narrative account,23 begins with his decision to confess his impenitence and reaches its climax in the LORD’s immediate removal of the burdensome punishment of his sin. In a nutshell verse 5 teaches that if persons who are suffering the consequences of unnamed guilt confess this to God, then they are forgiven (1 John 1.9).

Significantly, in this dramatic report the psalmist even quotes the words of his resolution: “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD!”24 This resolution, “I said,” stands in sharp contrast to “I kept silent” (v. 3).

From a stylistic perspective it is important to note, first of all, that, as verse 1 mentions three times the act of forgiveness, so verse 5 employs three verbs for confession: “I will acknowledge,” “I will not hide,” and “I will confess.” This repetition emphasizes that genuine confession happens only when it is voiced to God (Prov 28.12).25 As Walter Brueggemann aptly notes, “long before Freud, [the] psalmist understood…the need for spoken release and admission, the liberation that comes with actual articulation to the one who listens and can respond.”26

Second, two of the verbs for forgiveness in verse 1 are repeated in verse 5. The first verb to be repeated from verse 1 is “to cover.” It is repeated in the psalmist’s resolve not to cover up his iniquity. The repetition of the verb “to cover” sets up a significant play on words that shows that those who do not cover up their iniquity (v. 5) have their sin covered by God (v. 1). The atonement is, so to speak, God’s big cover up. The second verb that is repeated from verse 1 is “to carry.” It is repeated in the emphatic concluding statement about forgiveness: “But You, You bore the punishment of my sin!” Instead of the psalmist bearing the guilt of his sin, God bore it.27 Surely, this was a load off from the psalmist’s body!

Third, verse 5 also repeats from verses 1-2 the three most common words for sin. Strikingly, they are repeated in chiastic order:
rebellions (pl)

With respect to this interesting inversion, we would note, first of all, that, the first two nouns, “sin” and “iniquity, are the emphatic direct objects of the first two clauses of verse 5. Second, the third term is plural: rebellions. Third, the last two words, “iniquity” and “sin” are actually a unique construct phrase in the concluding climactic recollection of the LORD’s bearing the “iniquity of my sin.”28 This unique construct phrase echoes an equally surprising statement in Exodus 34:7 (cf. Num 14:18; Mi 7:18) that forms the climax of the Old Testament’s core testimony about God.29 Moreover, it also points to Isaiah 53:12, in which the Suffering Servant bore the sin of many. Needless to say, this cross reference to Isaiah 53 is very appropriate for Lent.

In connection with this unique phrase, we would note, first of all, that both nouns, “iniquity” and “sin,” can, according to Gerhard von Rad, “stand both for sin as act and for the consequences of sin, that is, for penalty.”30 Moreover, we would also suggest that this fact makes the final declaration of verse 5 even more important because it underscores the pervasiveness of sin and the comprehensive effect of divine forgiveness. In fact, the psalmist so focuses his attention on his experience of divine forgiveness in verse 5 that he fails to mention his physical recovery. Perhaps it is implied in verse 7. Furthermore, together with the emphatic pronoun “you,” this unique phrase also marks the concluding declaration of verse 5 as the crucial turning point of Psalm 32 because the psalmist does not refer to sin again in the remainder of the poem after this significant verse.

The psalmist’s dramatic experience of the LORD’s immediate comprehensive forgiveness of his rebellious acts prompts him in verse 6 to draw, as the word “therefore” shows, a vitally important practical implication for all those who are loyal (hasid) to God. Although verse 6 is addressed as a confession to God, it is also intended for the worshiping community (cf. v. 11). Indirectly, therefore, he admonishes every believer to pray31 while God may be found (cf. Is 55:6).32 More specifically, he advises them to practice penitence before it is too late. Only thus can one avoid the turbulent mighty waters that represent the Lord’s anger.33

The psalmist’s recollection of his experience to God comes to its climactic conclusion in verse 7 with a joyous proclamation of confidence that in the midst of trouble one can find shelter in the LORD. This expression of confidence begins with the emphatic declaration: “You are my hiding place!” Significantly, as in verse 5, the personal pronoun “you” stands in the emphatic position. Moreover, the word “hiding place” belongs to the semantic field of the foundational metaphor “refuge” first encountered in the beatitude of Psalm 2.12.34 As the following clauses indicate, this image denotes a shelter in distress (Ps 31:19-20). As his hiding place, the Lord delivers the psalmist from distress and encircles35 him with shouts36 of deliverance at the thanksgiving celebration.37 In sharp contrast to the immobilizing distress described in verses 3-4, this verse describes the radical transformation the psalmist experienced when the LORD bore the punishment of his sin.

C. Verses 8-9: A Priestly Word from the LORD

The change in subject and a shift of addressee in verse 8 marks a new segment in the poem . A key question for the interpretation of this and the following verses pertains to the identity of the speaker.

Some claim that the speaker is the psalmist himself (Ps 51:13). In this case, however, one would have expected a plural form of the pronoun “you.” Others suggest that the speaker is the Lord, who addresses the psalmist in response to his profession of faith in verse 7. Should this be the case, then the LORDpromises to make the psalmist wise and teach him in the way he should go, a thought that not only recalls Psalm 1:2 but also agrees with specific requests in lament psalms that the LORD teach his ways to the suppliant.38 Moreover, the LORD also promises to personally counsel the psalmist with his eyes upon him,39a concept that also occurs in Psalms 16:7 and 73:24. However, a problem with this attractive option is that verse 9 speaks about the Lord. To resolve this problem, still others argue from a cult functional perspective that the speaker is a liturgist. In this case the instruction proper is found in verses 9-10.

The first word of instruction (v. 9) is a second person plural admonition. It exhorts the psalmist and the audience not to be like a horse or stubborn mule that needs a bridle (Prov 26:3) because they lack understanding.

The second word of instruction (v.10) is a proverb-like statement that is common in the Psalter (cf. Ps 31.23). According to this proverbial statement, the lifestyle of the wicked is a closed circuit of trouble. In sharp contrast, those who trust in the LORD, i.e., the righteous, are encircled by God’s amazing covenant loyalty (hesed).

This proverbial statement provides a reason for verse 9 and is chiastic in structure. Like the chiastic summary statement of Psalm 1:6, this declaration urges its audience to make a choice. Like the wicked, one can deny sin and experience its negative consequences. Or, like those who trust in the LORD, one can be surrounded by the LORD’s active covenant loyalty (hesed).

D. Verse 11: A Summons to Praise

Psalm 32 closes with a triple summons to praise addressed to the circle of worshipers. Such calls to praise are common in psalms of thanksgiving (cf. Ps 30.5). The addressees are called “righteous” (Ps 1) and “upright in heart.”40 In light of the poem as a whole, they are “the faithful ones” (v. 6) and the ones who have no deceit (v. 2).


A sermon on Psalm 32 should stress the primary theme that divine forgiveness is the only gateway to genuine happiness. Such a sermon should emphasize the two sides of divine forgiveness in the two introductory beatitudes, i.e. the atonement and the declaratory act. With the psalmist the goal of the sermon should be to encourage the audience to confess their sins.

Because the psalmist does not confess a particular sin, there is no great hermeneutical gap between this ancient text and the contemporary Christian reader. Nevertheless, there are two challenges that preachers will need to consider in their sermon preparation.

The first challenge is that we live in a culture that has lost, as Karl A. Menninger has documented in his book, Whatever Became of Sin?,41 its awareness of sin and guilt. This loss can also be observed in the church. In fact, out of concern for the seekers, some pastors preach only about grace. The Fall has become a dirty word. Nevertheless, ever since the Fall in the Garden of Eden sin has been part and parcel of the fabric of human life. Sin is an inescapable reality and, according to Augustine’s famous maxim, “the beginning of knowledge is to know yourself as a sinner” (intelligentia prima est ut te noris peccatorem).42Similarly, according to Question & Answer 2 of the Heidelberg Cathecism, to live and die in the comfort of being a Christian, it is necessary to know how great one’s sin and misery are. Sin and grace are, so to speak, two sides of the same coin. One cannot understand the incomprehensible magnitude of divine grace without recognizing the depths of human sin, and vice versa. However, according to 1 John 1:8, to claim that we have no sin is a great self-deception.43 Consequently, a revitalization of the concept of sin, according to Menninger, is urgently needed.44

The second challenge that preachers will have to reckon with in this Lenten season is the demise of the practice of confession of sin in Protestant churches. However, as Robert W. Jenson underscores poignantly, “it is just such silence which did not suffice the psalmist!”45 With the loss of the concept sin, many contemporary church liturgies also omit the confession of sin. Instead we have the “Protestant Confessional,” gossip, in which we confess our neighbor’s sin instead of our own.46 Of course, this contradicts the petition of the prayer that our Lord taught his disciples, “Forgive us our sins…” Moreover, in our therapeutic society “counseling” has taken the place of confession. Nevertheless, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. observes convincingly that frank and painful confession of sins is as necessary as taking out the garbage.47 He writes:

“The problem is that sin is like garbage. You don’t want to let it build up. Confessing sin is like taking out the garbage. You want to do it regularly because taking out the garbage is an extremely healthy thing to do.”48

Select Bibliography

Brueggemann, Walter. The Message of the Psalms, Augsburg Old Testament Studies: A Theological Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1984, pp. 95-98.

Jenson, Robert W. “Psalm 32,” Interpretation 33 (1979): 172-176.

Mays, James Luther. Psalms, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1994.

McCann, J. Clinton. “The Book of the Psalms: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections,” The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, Volume IV. Nashville: Abdingdon Press, 1996.

Snyman, Stephanus D. “Psalm 32—Structure, Genre, Intent and Liturgical Use,” in Psalms and Liturgy, eds. Dirk J. Human and Cas J. A. Vos ( London: T & T Clark, 2004), 155-167.

Music Notes:
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

The suggestions for prelude could include settings of Psalm 103 based on the tunes ANGELIC SONGS/TIDINGS and GENEVAN 103 or settings of NETTLETON. While none of these suggestions are based upon Psalm 32, the texts associated with these tunes are very consistent with the themes of Psalm 32.

ANGELIC SONGS/TIDINGS [“O Come, My Soul, Sing Praise to God”]
Sedio, Mark. Augsburg Organ Library – Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M)
Sedio, Mark. The Praises of Zion. CPH 97-6728 [1998] (E-M)

GENEVAN 103 [“Come, Praise the Lord, My Soul”]
Dragt, Jaap. Psalm 103. Ars Nova 484 [1962] (E-D, a partita on the psalm tune)

NETTLETON [“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”]
Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 4. Fred Bock B-G0776 [1985] (M)
Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia
97-6140 [1992] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Groundings. Augsburg 11-11119 [2001] (E-M)
Eggert, John. Partita on Nettleton. Concordia 97-6862 [2000]
(E, most could be adapted to piano)
Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, s et 6. Morningstar MSM-10-542 [2000] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M)
Martin, Gilbert. Two Preludes on American Hymn Tunes. H. W. Grey GSTC 962 [1972] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Wood Works. SMP KK357 [1986] (E-M)
Young, Gordon. Variations on an American Hymn Tune. Fischer 9288 [1941] (M-D)
Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)
Carter, John. Hymns for Piano II. Hope 8197 [2003] (M)
David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (M)
Medema, Ken. Sanctuary. Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M)
Bish, Diane. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Fred Bock BG0798 [1986]
(4-5 octaves, level 4)
McChesney, Kevin. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. (3-5 octaves) (E-M)

The suggestions for offertory music are as follows:

VILLE DU HAVRE [When Peace Like a River]
Medema, Ken. Sanctuary. Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M)
Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M)
Sanborn, Jan. Piano Music for the Care of the Soul. Ron Harris RHP0403 [1997] (M)
Schubert, Myra. Give Him Praise. Lillenas MB-511 [1983] (D)
Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns…Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (M)
Burroughs, Bob. It Is Well With My Soul. Triune HB 160 [1986] (3 octaves C Instrument, E-M)
Moklebust, Cathy. It Is Well With My Soul. Alfred 20206 [2002]
(3-5 octaves with opt. handchiimes and C instrument, level 3)

The organ postlude “Choral Song” by Wesley can be found in “Wedding Music” Part 1, published by Concordia 97-1369 [1952] (M)

Liturgy Notes:

1. The communication of Scripture comes through in multiple ways in this service. The Old Testament reading of Psalm 32 is paired with the New Testament proclamation of God's peace through pardon in Romans 5. In addition, the congregation reinforces the message of Psalm 32 through song.

2. As previously mentioned, the Service of Confession/Renewal follows as a response to the Word in this service. The sermon on Psalm 32 should prepare us well for our confession of sin and receipt of God's pardon.

3. We suggest that you consider the inclusion of the Lord's Supper in this service. Such a celebration is very compatible with, and an excellent response to, the truths of Psalm 32. We have given only an outline for the sacrament. You will want to use the forms suggested by your church/denomination in designing this liturgy. Excellent materials can also be found in The Worship Sourcebook, pages 305-349. If your practice is to read Scripture while the elements are distributed, we suggest Mark 2:1-12 and/or Luke 7:36-48, both passages in which Christ clearly declares forgiveness to a sinner.

1 J. Clinton McCann, “The Book of the Psalms: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections,” The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 4: 805.
2 Rowland E. Prothero Ernle, The Psalms in Human Life and Experience (London: John Murray, 1905), 38.
3 Franz Delitzsch, “Psalms,” Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes, tr. James Martin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 5: 302.
4 James L. Mays, Psalms, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1994), 145. For the form and function of this literary genre see: Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, trs. Keith R. Crim and Richard N. Soulen (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981), 102-116.
5 Verse 5 of Psalm 31 was used in Lk 23.46 (Jesus) and in Acts 7.59 (Stephen).
6 For this term see: Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary, Augsburg Old Testament Series (Minneapolis: Augsburg Press, 1984), 123-126.
7 For the testimonial function of thanksgiving psalms see: Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, tr. D. M. G. Stalker (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 1: 359.
8 Nic. H. Ridderbos, De Psalmen Opnieuw uit de Grondtekst Vertaald en Verklaard, Korte Vertaling (Kampen: Kok, 1962), 1: 329.
9 For a summary of the options see: Stephanus D. Snyman, “Psalm 32—Structure, Genre, Intent and Liturgical Use,” in Psalms and Liturgy, eds. Dirk J. Human and Cas J. A. Vos ( London: T & T Clark, 2004), 159-160.
10 For other links between Ps 32 and Ps 1-2 see: J. Clinton McCann, “The Book of the Psalms,” 4: 805.
11 Cf. GKC § 116k.
12 For asyndetic relative clauses with retrospective pronouns see: GKC § 155i.
13 von Rad, OTT, 1: 263. Cf. Ronald Youngblood, “A New Look at Three Old Testament Roots for ‘Sin’,” in Biblical and Near Eastern Studies. Essays in Honor of William Sanford Lasor, ed. Gary A. Tuttle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 201-205.
14 von Rad, OTT, 1: 263.
15 For other occurrences of this trio of terms see: Ex 34.7 (cf. Nm 14.18); Is 1.2, 4; 59.12; Jer 33.8; Ps 51.1-7; and 59.4.
16 For the declaratory nature of the verb “impute” see: von Rad, OTT, 1: 379.
17 Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Assurances of the Heart: Faith-building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993), 64.
18 For examples see: Plantinga, Assurances, 224-225.
19 For the costly effects of silence see also: Ps 39:1-3.
20 For Lady Macbeth’s struggle with the consequences of her sin see: Plantinga, Assurances, 208.
21 For the punitive side of God’s hand see also: Pss 38.2 and 39.10.
22 As Frederick Lindström (Suffering and Sin: Interpretations of Illness in the Individual Complaint Psalms, Coniectanea Biblica, Old Testament Series 37 [Stockholm: Almquist & Wiksell International, 1994], 353, n. 33), has pointed out, the conjunction in v. 3 can be causal.
23 Snyman, “Psalm 32,” 162.
24 For the meaning of this declaration see: Joshua 7.19-20 and 1 Kings 8.33, 35.
25 Mays, Psalms, 147.
26 Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, 97.
27 According to von Rad (OTT, 1: 268), the phrase “bear guilt” is a typical form found in sacral law. It can be used in the sense of incurring guilt with respect to human beings and in the sense of atonement with God as the subject.
28 A computer search shows that this is the only occurrence of this construct phrase.
29 Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 217.
30 von Rad, OTT, 1: 266.
31 The Hebrew verb for “pray” is a YQTL that may be translated as a statement of fact or as a jussive.
32 Cf. Peter’s admonition to Simon in Acts 8.22.
33 For the thematic connection between Yahweh’s anger and the many waters see also Ps 88.7 and 16-17. Also, for the imagery of “many waters” see: Brown, Seeing the Psalms, 112-118.
34 Cf. Pss 27.5; 31.20; 61.4; 81.7; 91.1; and 119.114. Is 32.2 suggests that this metaphor is also linked thematically with the many waters of the preceding verse.
35 The verb “surrounds” recurs in v. 10.
36 The word “shouts” recurs as a verb in v. 11.
37 Because the opening declaration is a non-verbal clause, we agree with the NRSV and the New JPS Translation that the following verbs describe ongoing action.
38 Pss 27.11; 86.11; and 143.8, 10. For the concept see also: Pss 16.11; 25.9, 12; and 94.12.
39 The phrase “upon you my eyes” suggests that the psalmist sat at God’s feet. Cf. Acts 22.2 and Ps 25.15.
40 Strikingly, Psalm 33, another orphan psalm, begins with a similar summons.
41 Karl Augustus Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin? (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1973). I owe this reference to J. Clinton McCann, “The Psalms,” 807.
42 For this maxim as the motto of Psalm 32 see: Delitzsch, “Psalms,” 5: 393.
43 For examples of self-deception see once more: Plantinga, Jr., Assurances, 225-226.
44 Menninger, Whatever Became of Sin?, 192. For such an attempt see: Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995).
45 Robert W. Jenson, “Psalm 32,” Interpretation 33 (1979): 173.
46 Plantinga, Assurances, 231.
47 Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. Beyond Doubt: Faith-Building Devotions on Questions Christians Ask (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 54.
48 Plantinga, Beyond Doubt, 54.