In reading Psalm 32, it seems likely that this is a companion psalm to Psalm 51. In Psalm 51, David confesses his sin concerning adultery with Bathsheba and murder concerning her husband Uriah. I see Psalm 32 as the result of Psalm 51. David now has received forgiveness for his sins despite how bad those sins were. God could see David’s heart. In following the life of David, the story of him and Bathsheba just seems so out of character. My heart breaks whenever I get to this story in the Scriptures. David was a man after God’s own heart. How could he do such a thing? It says a lot about the human condition. Psalm 32 is a wonderful Psalm that speaks of sin and forgiveness.
Psalm 32:1-2 “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!”
The word for blessed here is ashrei and it is used most often in the Psalms and Proverbs. Some translate it as happy. It is a heightened state of happiness and joy, implying very favorable circumstance and enjoyment. The word that is translated in the Septuagint is makarios and is the word that is used in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Happiness is not just an emotional state, but it also has to do with overall well being. David talks of the blessing, the happiness of the one who does not have his sins held against him.The ApostlePaul quotes these verses in Romans 4 to talk about how a person is justified by faith.
David describes his sins as being lifted up. There is the idea of sin being lifted up and carried away. In Psalm 103:12, David says that God has removed our transgression from us as far as the east is from the west.
In looking at the Septuagint, I see an interesting relationship to the reference about the one in whose spirit is no deceit. The Septuagint says in whose mouth there is no deceit. In Isaiah 53:9, which talks about the Messiah, it says there was no deceit in His mouth. Peter quotes this in 1 Peter 2:22 in reference to Jesus. In John 1:47, Jesus refers to Nathanael as an Israelite in whom there was no deceit. That would be quite a compliment coming from Jesus.
Psalm 32:3-4 “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.”
David’s sins with Bathsheba and Uriah mark the darkest time in his recorded life. These passages in Psalm 32 perhaps provide insight to this time in his life when he was not in a right relationship with God. He could not get right with God until he acknowledged his wrongdoing. David was likely aware of his need to repent. These passages may give us a clue to the state of David’s conscience when he remained unrepentant. David went through a time of chastising from the Lord. God chastens the one He loves.
Heb 12:6 “FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
Rev 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
Psalm 32:5 “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.”
David acknowledged his sin and fully confessed. In the Scriptures, God speaks of remembering His covenant with Israel and their forefathers. When we come to David, God has made a covenant with him. Jeremiah 33:19-20 speaks of what it would take for God to break His covenant with David. Throughout Israel’s history, there have always been periods of chastisement, but when the people turned back to God and confessed their sins, then they would enjoy the benefits of the covenant once again. There may be a parallel with David and his confession. God promised the Messiah would come through him, but the time-frame was not specified.
Proverbs28:13 says this about confession, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
An indication that David had been forgiven and been restored to fellowship with God was the birth of his son Solomon as recorded in 2 Samuel 12:24. God loved Solomon. He had a second name Jedidiah that means beloved of God (the divine name is used).
Psalm 32:6 “Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.”
In Isaiah 55:6, Isaiah urges Israel to seek the Lord while He may be found. God will rescue the repentant one from trouble. From David’s experience of deliverance, he is confident that others can find the same forgiveness and subsequent happiness that he has found.
Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.”
Instead of enemies or trouble surrounding David, songs of deliverance would surround him.
David’s sin had major consequences, but even through that, the truth of this verse can be seen in David’s life. Psalm 3 was written at a time when David was on the run from his son Absalom, who had tried to take over David’s kingdom. David had to flee for his life. Psalm 3 reflects David’s trust in the Lord and the theme of these verses of protection in Psalm 32. God did deliver David from his son and brought him back to Jerusalem.
Psalm 32:8-9 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you.”
In Psalm 51:13, David said that in response to his forgiveness, he would teach transgressors God’s ways. These verses may reflect that promise. David has himself as an example and is in a position to teach others. David knew the effects of unconfessed sin and lived in an unrepentant state for about a year. He does not want any to follow his example in that area.
Psalm 32:10-11 “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him. Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”
Many sorrows will be to the person who refuses to confess. The word translated wicked, can be used to denote guilt. The repentant one (righteous one) will be surrounded with God’s lovingkindness. In this context, it fits that the reference is the guilty person who refuses to confess his sin. David said he would be surrounded with songs of deliverance and here he uses the same word to describe the lovingkindness that will surround the righteous. Being forgiven and having righteousness imputed is reason to praise God. As Paul makes clear in Romans 4, a person is justified by faith.
Summary Psalm 32
Psalm 32 is a wonderful Psalm that is a reminder of the forgiveness that is found in God for the one who seeks it. Psalm 32 has become a daily part of my prayer and mediation. I never want to take for granted what it means to be forgiven. I believe 1 John 1:9, drives home the important truths of Psalm 32.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright (C) 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary on Books I and II of the Psalms The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, ed. D.J. Wiseman. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973
Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). electronic ed. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.