How Blest Is He Whose Trespass

Representative Text

1 How blest is he whose trespass
hath freely been forgiv'n,
whose sin is wholly covered
before the sight of heav'n.
Blest he to whom Jehovah
will not impute his sin,
who hath a guileless spirit,
whose heart is true within.

2 While I kept guilty silence,
my strength was spent with grief;
thy hand was heavy on me,
my soul found no relief.
But when I owned my trespass,
my sin hid not from thee,
when I confessed transgression,
then thou forgavest me.

3 So let the godly seek thee
in times when thou art near;
no whelming floods shall reach them,
nor cause their hearts to fear.
In thee, O Lord, I hid me,
thou savest me from ill,
and songs of thy salvation
my heart with rapture thrill.

4 I graciously will teach thee
the way that thou shalt go,
and with my eye upon thee
my counsel make thee know.
But be ye not unruly
or slow to understand;
be not perverse, but willing
to heed my wise command.

5 The sorrows of the wicked
in number shall abound,
but those that trust Jehovah,
his mercy shall surround.
Then in the Lord be joyful,
in song lift up your voice;
be glad in God, ye righteous;
rejoice, ye saints, rejoice.

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #32B

Text Information

First Line: How blest is he whose trespass
Title: How Blest Is He Whose Trespass
Meter: D
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


A testimony to the blessedness of the forgiven and an exhortation to the trust, obedience, and joyful worship that should mark their lives.

Scripture References:
st. 1 =vv. 1-2
st. 2 =vv. 3-5
st. 3 = vv. 6-7
st. 4 = vv. 8-9
st. 5 =vv. 10-11

Psalm 32 is traditionally considered a penitential psalm (along with 6, 38, 51,102, 130, and 143). In the sequence of spiritual experience it follows the situation depicted in Psalm 51, the great plea for forgiveness. That psalm's traditional association with David's sin against Uriah, together with Psalm 32's reference to delayed confession, has suggested a historical link between the two. The psalm's thematic movement is noteworthy and is well represented in the versification, which is slightly altered from that of the 1912 Psalter.

The psalm begins with a testimony to the blessedness of those forgiven by God (st. 1). Retracing the spiritual movement from stubbornly denying sin to experiencing the joy of God's forgiveness (st. 2), the psalm exhorts all the godly to faithfully rely on God and reaffirms the LORD as refuge and hiding place (st. 3). Next God speaks, instructing the saints in godly obedience (st. 4). The psalm then contrasts the lot of the wicked with that of those who trust in God, and it closes with a call to the righteous to rejoice in God for his unfailing mercies (st. 5).

Liturgical Use
Though considered penitential, this psalm is properly used not so much in confession of sin as in thanksgiving for God's forgiveness of our sin. It is a joyful psalm! Within that context, the psalm could also serve as a call to confession (st. 1-3) and instruction for godly living following the assurance of pardon (st. 4-5).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



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Instances (1 - 10 of 10)
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Glory to God #446

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Hymns to the Living God #89

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Lift Up Your Hearts #669

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Psalms for All Seasons #32A

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #32

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Rejoice in the Lord #97

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Santo, Santo, Santo #527


The Cyber Hymnal #2197

TextPage Scan

Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #551

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Trinity Psalter Hymnal #32B

Include 16 pre-1979 instances
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