Forgiveness in Psalm 32

For generations, the Psalms have been considered a wonderful treasure of expressions of faith in life. The Psalms express great emotional depth and metaphorical power, providing color and body to the substance of the faith. This is certainly true for the 32nd Psalm, a meditation on the power of God’s forgiveness of sin.

The psalm begins with its theme: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven/whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity/ and in whose spirit there is no guile” (vv. 1-2). David is pronouncing happiness for the one who no longer bears the burden of his sin because he has confessed it before God and did not hide anything, as the following verses will demonstrate.

David continues by describing how he feels when he recognized his sin and had not yet confessed it. His bones wasted away on account of his internal groaning (v. 3). The hand of God was upon him strongly (v. 4a), and his strength (literally, “moisture” or “sap”) was “dried out” as if by the drought of summer (v. 4b). In order to obtain release, David confesses his sin before God and does not hide anything, and receives the desired forgiveness for his sin (v. 5).

As a result, David exhorts everyone who is godly to act likewise– make petition to God when He can be found, and not in the “overflow of great waters” (v. 6). This would seem to make allusion to the Flood and thus judgment– one should pray to God for forgiveness while His mercy is extended, and not wait until God turns in judgment against them (cf. Isaiah 55:6). For David, God is a hiding place, preserving him from trouble, and delivering him from difficulties (Psalm 32:7).

David then turns to his intended audience, indicating that he would provide instruction and teaching for them (v. 8). The audience is not to be without understanding, like a horse or a mule, animals that wander if the bit is not in their mouths (v. 9). These are exhortations for the audience to consider what wisdom will then be expressed: the sorrows of the wicked are many, while the lovingkindness of God surrounds the righteous (v. 10). The righteous, therefore, should be glad in the LORD and shout for joy (v. 11).

God is the strength, comfort, and joy of the righteous not because they are without sin, but because they are humble and willing to confess their sins and repent of them. The burden of sin is beyond what any man can bear– it leads to misery and death (cf. Romans 6:23, Psalm 32:10). Both the righteous and the wicked acutely feel the burden of guilt and shame on account of sin. The wicked, for whatever reason, do not humble themselves, admit their guilt, and give up that burden before God, and their misery continues. The righteous are wise enough to recognize their need to humble themselves, confess their sin, and to get rid of their burden. This is all possible because of God’s great love for mankind and His willingness to forgive the sins of any who would come to Him and obey His will (Matthew 6:14-15, 1 Peter 1:22).

Psalm 32 teaches us the wisdom of God through David– do not bear the heavy burden of sin and lose strength, but be willing to have the faith in God to confess sin and turn from it, and He will forgive, comfort, and strengthen you (cf. 1 John 1:9). God’s hand is heavy upon the sinner, but He will turn and become the joy of those who change their ways. Let us praise God for the ability to obtain the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus His Son and confession of our sin, and shout for joy for salvation in His name!

ELDV

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