The haunting, terrible reality for all Christians is that we fall short of the glory of God far too often. Once is too often, by the way. We do slip up, trip up, & fall short or miss the mark. As Christians we strive to be like Jesus, but we sin. 1 John 1.8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Notice that John includes himself. It is right to feel guilt over sin; in fact we ought to because when we don’t something is wrong. What do you do when you are in the throes of despair over sin? Psalm 32 offers light & hope in darkness & despair. God thoroughly forgives our iniquity, transgressions, & sins.
The superscription of this psalm calls it “a maskil.” A maskil could mean this is 1) a contemplative song [think about it, hmm…]; 2) a psalm imparting moral wisdom; 3) a well-written psalm (NET). Psalms 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, & 102 are also maskil Psalms. “Of David” means this was written by David and this fact is confirmed by Paul (Romans 4.6-8).
God Deals With Our Sin (1-4)
Like the Sermon on the Mount this Psalm begins with a beatitude. This is the beatitude of the forgiven lawbreaker.
1Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Sin Expiated [atoned for] (1-2): Three (3) words are used in the 1st two verse to describe sin: transgression, sin, iniquity. 1) Transgression: crossing a boundary, i.e. God’s law. 2) Sin: missing the mark, not doing what God has commanded or doing what God has commanded not be done. 3) Iniquity: internal defilement of the soul, moral distortion. All three of these God handles. With transgressions, He “forgives,” i.e. they are taken away like a burden. With sin, He “covers,” i.e. they are hidden from His sight. With iniquity, He does not “count” them, i.e. they never hit the record. But cleansing of all sin begins with genuine, real repentance, not pretended penitence (“no deceit”). Salvation from sin flows into a sincere heart before God.
3For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Sin Experienced (3-4): Here is the soul crushing reality of sin. David “kept silent” about his sin. Why keep silent? Could have been out of pride (stubborn refusal to confess), neglect, despair (“How could God forgive me?”), guilt (don’t deserve? Exactly! That’s grace). But the longer he kept it in, his physical condition took a turn for the worse as he “wasted away” (weak, exhausted, aged). He groaned all day; so while he may have been silent over sin, he was groaning in sorrow. Verse 4: God’s hand is helpful when He reaches down to help us up, but it is heavy when it comes down upon us due to sin (cf. 38.2). If his finger can crush, what pressure must His hand bring? Further, the heat of divine justice has withered David, dried him up like a twig. All of this shows us the awful experience of unconfesed sin.
God Hears Our Confession (5-7)
Confession brings joy!
5I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
7You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
Individual (5, 7): Verse 5: Here is true repentance in action. First, David takes ownership of his sin – “my sin…my transgressions…my iniquity.” Mine, all mine. My rebellion & self-will & perversion (cf. James 1.14-15). All this he “will confess” to God, that is, his intention & inclination is toward God. Notice: David can’t even get the words out and God already forgives! Like prodigal son (Lk 15). AND God not only forgives the sin, but “the iniquity of my sin” or “the guilt of my sin” (NIV). The very blackest part God blots out! God deals with the root of sin, the virus of moral depravity. He does not merely mow over the weed; he pulls it out at the root! God’s pardon is deep, thorough. Verse 7: It is no wonder David views God as his personal city of refuge, city to hide from the avenger of blood, preserved from death, with shouts & songs because he is safe.
6Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
Everyone (6): David says to God that everybody ought to do what I am doing. David wants everyone to experience the joy of salvation. This is the best deal around – total, full forgiveness of all sin & a new heart on top of it. This doesn’t make what we did right; it makes Him good.
God Instructs Our Hearts (8-11)
Some say this is David instructing others as he vowed to do (51.13). Others say this is God speaking & instructing us after reconciliation.
8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
God Guides the Godly (8-9): God guides us with spiritual & moral guidance. He reveals to us the way we should go thru His word. Further, He watches over us as we walk in His way. Verse 9: these beasts need a bit & are forced into service. Ours, tho, is a willing service. They are “without understanding,” but we are rational creatures rendering to our Maker what is rightfully His.
10Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
God Guards the Godly (10): Sorrows are guilt, shame, anxiety (over relationship with God), fear/terror, anger, bitterness. “The wicked” are acquainted with these. “He who sows sin will reap sorrow in heavy sheaves” (Spurgeon). “Every wicked man is a miserable man” (Clarke). However, those whose faith is in YHWH are surrounded by His unfailing love. Morning & evening, in company & alone, in sickness & health, in life & in death – everywhere & always.
11Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
God Gladdens the Godly (11): Joy accompanies forgiveness. So holiness & joy are welded together. Note that only “in the YHWH” can we experience joy for only YHWH can atone for & absolve us of sin thereby making us “righteous” & “upright in heart.”
I believe many Christians need this reminder of reassurance of remission of sin. Guilt is crippling & hinders us from fulfilling the purposes of God in our generation. But God has dealt with our sin & continues to deal with our sins. We are forgiven to the uttermost, and God calls us to live with & for Him.
Prayer: For the forgiveness of our sins, the blotting out of our transgressions, and the remission of our iniquity, even the iniquity of our sin, we praise thee, O Lord.