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Mercy and Forgiveness in the Book of Psalms

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Chapter Summary

The perception of the contrast between human frailty and divine firmness emerges in penetrating analyses of the inwardness of sin and the sublime nature of divine forgiveness, couched in the form of humble supplications. The penitential Psalms are without doubt the most universal expression of the human condition viewed in the light of God's steadfast love and mercy. As the unavoidable connection between sin and suffering suggests, forgiveness is in its essence the healing of a soul tormented by the sins of self assertion and obstinacy. Psalm 78 uses the ancient history of Israel as a lesson to her people in present and future generations. The themes of mercy and forgiveness are prominent mainly in individual or communal laments, hymnic praises of the divine character and deeds, historical accounts, and Wisdom writing. Statements that fall into these last three categories are general in nature.

Keywords: forgiveness; human frailty; mercy; penitential Psalms

10.1163/9789004276031_025
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