Exegetical Notes: Psalm 32

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

“Blessed” – literally meaning “happy”, but the word is most clearly seen as “happiness derived from a divine source”. 

The word also carries a sense of congratulations, thus the first verse has the understanding of, “Congratulations to the one whose transgression is forgiven…”

The forgiving mercy of God is certainly one of life’s greatest prizes, because it is the only sure way to happiness.

“In this Psalm, blessedness is not ascribed to one who has been a diligent law keeper, for then it would never come to us. it is to a lawbreaker, who by grace most rich and free has been forgiven.”  – C.H.S., Treasury.

APP: Could it be that there is so little happiness in our lives because there is so little recognition of forgiveness? Little awareness of sin, causes little need of forgiveness.”

“transgression” – rebellion; a breach of trust”

“forgiven” – “to lift, carry, or take away”

“What a lift!…Samson carried the gates of Gaza (Judges 16:3), but what was that to the weight Jesus bore on our behalf” – C.H.S., Treasury.

Samson was like world’s first strong man. What a feat to carry the gates of Gaza about 30 minutes away! But there was another man who carried the beam of a tree, and a heavier burden of the weight of sin as he took away our sin and secured our forgiveness.

In the OT this is symbolized on Yom Kappur (The Day of Atonement) by the releasing of the scapegoat who was a picture of one who carried the sins of the people out of the temple.

“covered” – “to cover, conceal” … “to clothe”

 See Genesis 3:21. Man made an inadequate covering for his sin in clothes made of vegetation. God’s provision on clothes made with animal skin shows us the first shaddow of God covering the shame and guilt of sin. Christ’s death and propitiation ultimately fulfills this promise of covering.

2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

“iniquity” – “wrongdoing” or “evil”. 

Spurgeon describes the unholy trinity of transgression, sin, and iniquity as “the three headed dog at the gates of hell.”

“in whose spirit there is no deceit” – Herein lies the problem for us…we live in a world of deceived people.

We do not deal honestly with 1)our sin or 2)our God.

We will never find happiness (blessed) under the blindfold of self deceit and hypocrisy.

ILL: (Bass fishing with artificial bait)…the lure makes a wonderful promise and the presentation is inviting, but leaves a fish caught on a fisherman’s hook. In the same way, sin often has a pleasing presentation, but the consequences are deadly.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 
(2 Co 4:3–6).

APP: We have lost the source of our conviction because we do not think of the Savior’s sacrifice, only of ourselves and sin.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

Verses 3-4 paint a picture of one who is so burdened by his awareness of sin that it is compared to sapping his health and energy.
You might summarize this by saying “My sin was killing me.” Isn’t it true that sin does kill. The wages of sin is DEATH.

”Unconfessed transgression, like a fierce poison, dries the fountain of strength.” – C.H.S., Treasury.

4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.- Selah

God’s conviction was a weighty burden upon David.

“Selah” – A word suggesting a moment of reflection. 

QUES: Have we lost our sense of conviction? Are we deceiving ourselves by becoming comfortable with sin?

5 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

“I acknowledged” – “I told you openly that I had sinned; I did not say that I had not sinned.” – 
Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 305.

“I did not cover my iniquity” – As did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

“confess” – Confession of sin is essentially agreeing with God regarding our sin. It is when we see our sin as God does.

 See Romans 10:9,10; 1 John 1:9.

“you forgave the iniquity of my sin” – May we never forget, we have a forgiving God!

6 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.

“godly” – “the godly are Yahweh’s special people, and so are helped and protected by him.” – 
Robert G. Bratcher and William David Reyburn, A Translator’s Handbook on the Book of Psalms, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1991), 44.

7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.- Selah

“hiding place” – Ironically, instead of running to God for forgiveness of sin, we often run from Him.

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Verses 8,9 are most clearly seen as God’s instruction to David.

9 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.

Perhaps a personal lesson learned from David. A period of approximately 9 months occurred between David’s sin and his encounter with the prophet Nathan.

“or it will not stay near you” – As worshippers of God, we should always pursue His instruction and counsel. Repeated stubbonness to God’s ways, results in hindered spiritual vitality.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

“sorrows” – Sin always brings sorrow.

“steadfast love” – Heb. – “hesed or chesed”. often translated as lovingkindness. The word communicates God’s devotion, loyalty, mercy, and unchanging love.

11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Oh! how the forgiven should “be glad in the Lord” and “shout for joy”.