I. The penitential psalms are seven psalms that have commonly been used among Christians, especially in the Western tradition, to express emotions and offer prayers in times of difficulty or for repentance of sins. These psalms are: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143.

II. Psalm 6 confesses to a guilt that causes his very bones to be ill.

III. Psalm 32, alone among the penitential psalms, is not really a psalm of lamentation but rather combines themes of trust, wisdom, and thanksgiving.

IV. Psalm 38 reflects distress become of the punishments that come from sin: illness, abandonments of friends, and the near triumph of enemies.

B. The psalm has three appeals

2. Verses 8-15 then describe how the psalmist's friends have abandoned him.

V. Psalm 51, largely in response to the criticism of psalm 50 that the sacrifices have become worthless because of the people's infidelity, offers God a confession, contrite hearth, and desire to repent.


B. Verses 1-2 introduce the theme of washing away sin, blotting out debt.

E. Verses 16-17 offer a contrite spirit to make the sacrifices worthwhile.

F. Verses 18-19 then apply the whole psalm to Jerusalem and the people of God.

VI. Psalm 102 expresses the sorrows of one who is near to death. He seems to rest and be satisfied, not with individual healing, but rather the vision of God's providence and eternity.

VII. Psalm 130 is one of the pilgrim psalms and expresses an individual struggle from "the depths," which could refer to death or a time of despair that seems like death.

C. The psalmist then bases his trust upon God's fidelity to His people and His steadfast love.

VIII. Psalm 143 is a continuous plea for God's help, based upon His favor and the holiness of His name.