A Meditation on Psalm 32
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I 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
Therefore 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.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 32 is about repentance, forgiveness, and the burden of unconfessed sin. King David admonishes us all to seek the Lord’s forgiveness, and the Lord promises to instruct us in the way that we should go.
These are gospel messages. Indeed, Paul quotes from the beginning of Psalm 32 in his explanation of the gospel: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin’” (Rom 4.4-8). Thus, this psalm teaches us about the righteousness that is based on faith rather than on works of the Law.
The first verses are about the Lord’s mercy. We have done nothing to earn His forbearance and forgiveness. Rather, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6.23). If righteousness were based on our deeds alone, we would all stand condemned. Yet, the Lord is merciful; He does not give us what we deserve.
We need only confess our sins and repent of them, yet our pride considers this to be a high hurdle. It certainly was for David, who gave into the temptation to keep silent about his sin. But sin has consequences in this life as well as in the next. David says of his impenitence, “My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
See how gracious God towards us even in the depth of our sin! The Lord blessed David with misery when he kept silent. We should discern these moments in our own lives. Often our suffering is an obstacle sent by the Adversary, but sometimes the weight we feel is the hand of God pressing us towards repentance.
In the end, David recognized God’s hand for what it was, and he repented. The story is simple from there: “I 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.” As the Lord said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Mat 11.29-30). Forgiveness in Christ isn’t complex; we don’t have to climb up any mountains, descend to any depths, or clear any hurdles. We simply confess our sins and repent of them. If we are faithful to do that, the Lord is faithful to forgive us.
And more than that! If we humble ourselves in repentance, the Lord will defend us against the Adversary, and He will reveal His ways to us—the two things that will preserve us from future sin. Great indeed are the Lord’s mercy and grace.
“Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found.”