The Seven Penitential Psalms
These seven psalms have served as a special source of prayer and reflection during Lent, for centuries.  The tone of their honest pleading is compelling and invites us to turn to our Lord with the same candor and desire.

Our struggles, our sins, our "enemies" - and the ways we describe them - may be different, but these psalms can draw us into coming before our God, as sinners, with real needs.  They can help us come to know God's love and mercy.

Psalm 6
A Prayer in Time of Trouble

 1  Don't punish me, LORD, or even correct me 
     when you are angry! 
 2  Have pity on me and heal my feeble body. 
     My bones tremble with fear, 
 3  and I am in deep distress. 
     How long will it be?
 4  Turn and come to my rescue. 
     Show your wonderful love and save me, LORD. 
 5  If I die, I cannot praise you or even remember you. 
 6  My groaning has worn me out. 
     At night my bed and pillow are soaked with tears. 
 7  Sorrow has made my eyes dim, and my sight has failed 
     because of my enemies.
 8  You, LORD, heard my crying, 
     and those hateful people had better leave me alone. 
 9  You have answered my prayer and my plea for mercy. 
10 My enemies will be ashamed and terrified, 
     as they quickly run away in complete disgrace.

Psalm 32
The Joy of Forgiveness

 1  Our God, you bless everyone 
     whose sins you forgive and wipe away. 
 2  You bless them by saying, 
     "You told me your sins, without trying to hide them, 
     and now I forgive you."
 3  Before I confessed my sins, my bones felt limp, 
     and I groaned all day long. 
 4  Night and day your hand weighed heavily on me, 
     and my strength was gone as in the summer heat.
 5  So I confessed my sins and told them all to you. 
     I said, "I'll tell the LORD each one of my sins." 
     Then you forgave me and took away my guilt.

Psalm 38
A Prayer in Times of Trouble

 1  When you are angry, LORD, please don't punish me 
     or even correct me. 
 2  You shot me with your arrows, 
     and you struck me with your hand.
 3  My body hurts all over because of your anger. 
     Even my bones are in pain, 
     and my sins 4are so heavy that I am crushed.
 5  Because of my foolishness, I am covered with sores 
     that stink and spread. 
 6  My body is twisted and bent, and I groan all day long. 
 7  Fever has my back in flames, and I hurt all over. 
 8  I am worn out and weak, moaning and in distress.
 9  You, LORD, know every one of my deepest desires, 
     and my noisy groans are no secret to you. 
10 My heart is beating fast. 
     I feel weak all over, and my eyes are red.
11 Because of my sickness, 
     no friends or neighbors will come near me. 
12 All who want me dead set traps to catch me, 
     and those who want to harm and destroy me 
     plan and plot all day.
13 I am not able to hear or speak a word; 
14 I am completely deaf and can't make a sound.
15 I trust you, LORD God, and you will do something. 
16 I said, "Don't let them laugh or brag because I slip."
17 I am about to collapse from constant pain. 
18 I told you my sins, and I am sorry for them. 
19 Many deadly and powerful enemies hate me, 
20 and they repay evil for good because I try to do right.
21 You are the LORD God! 
     Stay nearby and don't desert me. 
22 You are the one who saves me. Please hurry and help.

Psalm 51
A Prayer for Forgiveness

 1  You are kind, God! Please have pity on me. 
     You are always merciful! Please wipe away my sins. 
 2  Wash me clean from all of my sin and guilt. 
 3  I know about my sins, 
     and I cannot forget my terrible guilt. 
 4  You are really the one I have sinned against; 
     I have disobeyed you and have done wrong. 
     So it is right and fair for you 
     to correct and punish me.
 5  I have sinned and done wrong since the day I was born. 
 6  But you want complete honesty, 
     so teach me true wisdom. 
 7  Wash me with hyssopa 
     until I am clean and whiter than snow. 
 8  Let me be happy and joyful! 
     You crushed my bones, now let them celebrate. 
 9  Turn your eyes from my sin and cover my guilt. 
10 Create pure thoughts in me 
      and make me faithful again. 
11 Don't chase me away from you 
     or take your Holy Spirit away from me.
12 Make me as happy as you did when you saved me; 
     make me want to obey! 
13 I will teach sinners your Law, 
     and they will return to you. 
14  Keep me from any deadly sin. Only you can save me! 
      Then I will shout and sing about your power to save.
15 Help me to speak, and I will praise you, LORD. 
16 Offerings and sacrifices are not what you want. 
17 The way to please you 
      is to feel sorrow deep in our hearts. 
     This is the kind of sacrifice you won't refuse.
18 Please be willing, LORD, to help the city of Zion 
     and to rebuild its walls. 
19 Then you will be pleased with the proper sacrifices, 
     and we will offer bulls on your altar once again.

Psalm 102
A Prayer in Time of Trouble
 1  I pray to you, LORD! Please listen. 
 2  Don't hide from me in my time of trouble. 
     Pay attention to my prayer and quickly give an answer.
 3  My days disappear like smoke, 
     and my bones are burning as though in a furnace. 
 4  I am wasting away like grass, and my appetite is gone. 
 5  My groaning never stops, 
     and my bones can be seen through my skin. 
 6  I am like a lonely owl in the desert 
 7  or a restless sparrow alone on a roof.
 8  My enemies insult me all day, 
     and they use my name for a curse word. 
 9  Instead of food, I have ashes to eat and tears to drink, 
10 because you are furious and have thrown me aside. 
11 My life fades like a shadow at the end of day 
     and withers like grass.
12 Our LORD, you are King forever 
     and will always be famous. 
13 You will show pity to Zion because the time has come. 
14 We, your servants, love each stone in the city, 
     and we are sad to see them lying in the dirt.
15 Our LORD, the nations will honor you, 
     and all kings on earth will praise your glory. 
16 You will rebuild the city of Zion. 
     Your glory will be seen, 
17 and the prayers of the homeless will be answered.
18 Future generations must also praise the LORD, 
     so write this for them: 
19 "From his holy temple, 
     the LORD looked down at the earth. 
20 He listened to the groans of prisoners, 
     and he rescued everyone who was doomed to die."
21 All Jerusalem should praise you, our LORD, 
22 when people from every nation meet to worship you.
23 I should still be strong, 
     but you, LORD, have made an old person of me. 
24 You will live forever! Years mean nothing to you. 
     Don't cut my life in half!
25 In the beginning, LORD, you laid the earth's foundation 
     and created the heavens. 
26 They will all disappear and wear out like clothes. 
     You change them, as you would a coat, 
     but you last forever. 
27 You are always the same. Years cannot change you. 
28 Every generation of those who serve you 
     will live in your presence. 

Psalm 130
Trusting the LORD in Times of Trouble

 1  From a sea of troubles I call out to you, LORD. 
 2  Won't you please listen as I beg for mercy?
 3  If you kept record of our sins, no one could last long. 
 4  But you forgive us, and so we will worship you.
 5  With all my heart, I am waiting, LORD, for you! 
     I trust your promises. 
 6  I wait for you more eagerly 
     than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn. 
     Yes, I wait more eagerly 
     than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn.
 7  Israel, trust the LORD! He is always merciful, 
     and he has the power to save you. 
 8  Israel, the LORD will save you from all of your sins.

Psalm 143
A Prayer in Time of Danger

 1  Listen, LORD, as I pray! 
     You are faithful and honest and will answer my prayer. 
 2  I am your servant. Don't try me in your court, 
     because no one is innocent by your standards. 
 3  My enemies are chasing me, crushing me in the ground. 
     I am in total darkness, like someone long dead. 
 4  I have given up all hope, and I feel numb all over.
 5  I remember to think about the many things
     you did in years gone by. 
 6  Then I lift my hands in prayer, because my soul is a desert, 
     thirsty for water from you.
 7  Please hurry, LORD, and answer my prayer. 
     I feel hopeless. 
     Don't turn away and leave me here to die. 
 8  Each morning let me learn more about your love 
     because I trust you. 
     I come to you in prayer, asking for your guidance.
 9  Please rescue me from my enemies, LORD! 
     I come to you for safety.a 
10 You are my God. Show me what you want me to do, 
     and let your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path.
11 Be true to your name, LORD, and keep my life safe. 
     Use your saving power to protect me from trouble. 
12 I am your servant. 
     Show how much you love me by destroying my enemies.

Contemporary English Version - The Holy Bible (New York , NY: American Bible Society 1995)

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