Psalm 32

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Scroll of the Psalms

Psalm 32 is the 32nd psalm of the Book of Psalms.

In Psalm 32 the Psalmist (traditionally, King David) expresses the joy of being released from great suffering. It is divided into two parts: verses 1-5, the psalmist proclaims the joy of seeing his fault remitted by God and in verse 6 to verse 11, he shows his confidence in the fact that God is the guide on the right path.

The harm suffered by the psalmist is very hard to bear, although we can not know precisely its nature. The Psalm seeks to understand where it comes from, because at the time, misfortune is understood as a consequence of the sins one has committed. But far from being an opportunity to revolt, this event leads him to experience God's forgiveness.


The Psalm belongs to the series of psalms of thanksgiving of an individual. It also covers wisdom poetry. The main issue is however, former sins of the psalmist which is why it's part of the seven penitential psalms. The psalm itself is not a prayer of repentance, but a confession of sin is consummated. According to James Luther Mays, the Psalmist, in the exercise of repentance teaches others of his experience and gives therefore instructions.[1] It is divided into the following segments:[2]

1. Verse 1: Commitment to repentance
2. Verse 3-5: The psalmist's distress
3. Verse 6: Forgiveness and admonition to others
4. Verse 8: Wisdom speech
5. Verse 10: Summary of experience
6. Verse 11: Rejoicing over the forgiveness of sins




Following St. Benedict of Nursie[5][6] the practice in the Middle Ages, was for monasteries, to recite or sing this Psalm at matins of Sunday.[7] Today Psalm 31 is sung or recited at Vespers of Thursday of the first semaine.[8]

New Testament[edit]

Paul references verse 1 & 2 of the Psalm in Romans 4:7-8 in his explanation of salvation by faith, not works [9]


  1. ^ James Luther Mays, Psalms (1994), 145.
  2. ^ Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms (6 1986), 135.
  3. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim page 329
  4. ^ The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 7
  5. ^ Règle de saint Benoît, traduction de Prosper Guéranger, p. 46, Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes,
  6. ^
  7. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, p. 89.
  8. ^ Le cycle principal des prières liturgiques se déroule sur quatre semaines[clarification needed].
  9. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • John Barton, John Muddiman (eds.), The Oxford Bible Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 377.