Most people will be aware that the Americans talk about their prisons as ‘penitentiaries’. You may also be vaguely familiar with the concept of ‘penance’. In religious circles this normally means either a feeling of regret for misdeeds or some religious payment for sin. In Biblical terms the word ‘penitential’ means to ‘repent of sin and to seek forgiveness’. We are going to discover in these psalms a number of lessons about sin, the sinner and how God deals with sin.
Let me summarise them:
1. There is nothing that can be done by an individual to atone for sin;
2. God is extremely angry about our sin;
3. Sin weakens and exhausts a person morally and physically;
4. Sin has a defiling and contaminating effect in the life of the believer;
5. Sin ruins our relationship with God;
6. God alone can forgive sin;
7. God is gracious and merciful as well as holy and just;
8. There are forces against the believer that would seek their downfall (i.e. our flesh, the world and the Devil).