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Home > Fathers of the Church > Expositions on the Psalms (Augustine) > Psalm 32

Exposition on Psalm 32

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To David himself; for understanding.

1. To David himself; for understanding; by which it is understood that not by the merits of works, but by the grace of God, man is delivered, confessing his sins.

2. Blessed are they whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sins are covered Psalm 31:1: and whose sins are buried in oblivion. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord has not imputed sin, nor is there guile in his mouth Psalm 31:2: nor has he in his mouth boastings of righteousness, when his conscience is full of sins.

3. Because I kept silence, my bones waxed old: because I made not with my mouth confession unto salvation, Romans 10:10 all firmness in me has grown old in infirmity. Through my roaring all the day long Psalm 31:3: when I was ungodly and a blasphemer, crying against God, as though defending and excusing my sins.

4. Because day and night Your Hand was heavy upon me: because, through the continual punishment of Your scourges, I was turned in misery, while a thorn was fixed through me Psalm 31:4: I was made miserable by knowing my misery, being pricked with an evil conscience.

5. I acknowledged my sin, and my unrighteousness have I not hid: that is, my unrighteousness have I not concealed. I said, I will confess against myself my unrighteousness to the Lord: I said, I will confess, not against God (as in my ungodly crying, when I kept silence), but against myself, my unrighteousness to the Lord. And You forgave the iniquity of my heart Psalm 31:5; hearing the word of confession in the heart, before it was uttered with the voice.

6. For this shall every one that is holy pray unto You in an acceptable time: for this wickedness of heart shall every one that is righteous pray unto You. For not by their own merits will they be holy, but by that acceptable time, that is, at His coming, who redeemed us from sin. Nevertheless in the flood of great waters they shall not come near him Psalm 31:6: nevertheless, let none think, when the end has come suddenly, as in the days of Noah, Matthew 24:37-41 that there remains a place of confession, whereby he may draw near unto God.

7. You are my refuge from the pressures, which have compassed me about: You are my refuge from the pressure of my sins, which has compassed my heart. O Thou, my Rejoicing, deliver me from them that compass me about Psalm 31:7: in You is my joy: deliver me from the sorrow which my sins bring upon me.

8. Diapsalma. The answer of God: I will give you understanding, and will set you in the way in which you shall go; I will give you understanding after confession, that you depart not from the way in which you should go; lest you wish to be in your own power. I will fix Mine Eyes upon you Psalm 31:8; so will make sure upon you My Love.

9. Be not ye like horse or mule, which have no understanding: and therefore would govern themselves. But says the Prophet, Hold in their jaws with bit and bridle. Do Thou then, O God, unto them that will not come near You Psalm 31:9, what man does to horse and mule, that by scourges Thou make them to bear Your rule.

10. Many are the scourges of the sinner: much is he scourged, who, confessing not his sins to God, would be his own ruler. But he that trusts in the Lord, mercy compasses him about Psalm 31:10; but he that trusts in the Lord, and submits himself to His rule, mercy shall compass him about.

11. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous: be glad, and rejoice, you righteous, not in yourselves, but in the Lord. And glory, all you that are right in heart Psalm 31:11: and glory in Him, all you who understand that it is right to be subject unto Him, that so ye may be placed above all things beside.

About this page

Source. Translated by J.E. Tweed. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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