Mercy’s long history

I don’t remember how I came across it, but I have noted in my study Bible the seven psalms to pray for the souls in purgatory (6, 32,38,51,102,130 and 143) each followed by a “Glory be.” These psalms focus on seeking the mercy and pardon of God and praising Him for His assistance.

While the intention is to pray these 7 prayers on behalf of the souls in purgatory, one can’t help but to reflect upon the message of each psalm. A prayer in time of distress, psalm 6 is a plea to God to be healed and ends with confidence that “the Lord has accepted my prayer.” The theme of psalm 32 is the remission of sin. It describes how “heavy” sin weighs us down, yet when we turn and confess our sins to God we can again be happy and rejoice. A prayer of an afflicted sinner, psalm 38 illustrates the physical and emotional anguish of one who is keenly aware of his broken relationship with God. It is followed by the prayer of repentance; “For I acknowledge my offense and my sin is before me always.” (Ps 51:5) Psalm 102 is another prayer in time of distress and acknowledges man’s fleeting time on earth in comparison with the everlasting God saying that even the heavens “shall perish, but you remain though all of them grow old like a garment. Like clothing you change them, and they are changed, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” (Ps 102:27-28)

My favorite verse is found in psalm 130, “If you, O Lord mark iniquities, Lord who can stand? But with you is forgiveness, that you may be revered.” This short psalm, 8 verses in total, sums up what it means to seek pardon from God and receive His mercy. Lastly, the prayer of the penitent in distress concludes with hope in God, if we but look to do His will. “May your good spirit guide me on level ground.” (Ps 143:10)

It amazes me that these prayers were written thousands of years ago, yet are very much relevant to today. We are in no less need of God’s mercy and we have these wonderful prayers that can sum up how we feel as we reach out to God for forgiveness.

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