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Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 32

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

The Title, "Maschil," is explained by the Hebrew cognate verb (Psalms 32:8), "I will INSTRUCT thee" ['askiylkaa]. Compare Psalms 47:7, "with understanding" (the same Hebrew), Proverbs 21:11; especially Psalms 53:1-6, where, as here, the title is explained in the psalm itself. This is the first psalm in which this title is found. It is found before twelve other psalms. While all the Psalms, as all Scripture, contain instruction (2 Timothy 3:16), these psalms are so inscribed in order to draw attention to this as their special design, even in cases where this design is not apparent at first sight.

The definiteness of the language implies that some particular sin is referred to by David, which God had forgiven him. The view seems, therefore, correct which supposes the sin to have been the adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. Not a mere infirmity, but a willful "iniquity," and a series of "transgressions," are spoken of in Psalms 32:5 (cf. 1 Kings 15:5). A whole year, according to 2 Samuel 11:1-27, passed in sin before David repented. Hence, according to Psalms 32:3-4, a long period of mental darkness and anguish ensued, wherein his "bones waxed old through his roaring all the day long," and 'day and night the Lord's hand was heavy neon him.' Nathan's mission to him was not the first movement in his penitence (2 Samuel 12:1-31), but brought to a crisis and an actual confession of sin the repentance which had been slowly and painfully working in him for some time before. Then, as here (Psalms 32:5), confession was followed by instantaneous forgiveness: there was an immediate transition from agonizing fears (Psalms 32:4) to complete pardon (2 Samuel 12:13): "David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shall not die." Psalms 51:4; Psalms 51:11, refers to the same sin, and shows a state of mind in which there was a long-continued struggle between fear of final casting away and hope of forgiveness.

Psalms 32:1-11. Blessedness of him whose sin is covered (Psalms 32:1-2); misery of David until forgiven (Psalms 32:3-4); instant forgiveness followed confession (Psalms 32:5); thus others are led to pray in an acceptable time, as he has been compassed with songs of deliverance (Psalms 32:6-7); instruction drawn from the history-we should be led by God's love, not have to be curbed like the brute (Psalms 32:8-9); sorrow awaits the wicked, joy the righteous (Psalms 32:10-11).

Blessed ... transgression ... covered - "forgiven" - literally, borne; alluding prophetically to Messiah, the Sin-bearer (Isaiah 53:1-12), of whom the scapegoat was a type. "Covered" - namely, by God, not by the sinner himself (Psalms 85:2). The sinner must discover his sin by confession, if he desires God to cover it with forgiveness (Psalms 32:5; Proverbs 28:13). Upon the sinner's repentance his sin is covered from vengeance. This was the symbolical meaning of the mercy-seat or covering of the ark. It hid from the sight of God the tables of the law, which was the handwriting of our sins (Colossians 2:14). Christ is the Antitype to the mercy-seat (Romans 3:25), "whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (literally, a propitiatory: hilasteerion (G2435) through faith in his blood." The image is that of something covered out of sight. The Hebrew [ kaacah (H3680)] is different from the ordinary one for to 'cover,' or "make reconciliation for iniquity" (Daniel 9:24) [ kaapar (H3722)]. The three expressions, "transgression" [ pesha` (H6588), willful and rebellious sin], "sin" [ chaTaa'ah (H2403), sins of infirmity], and "iniquity" [ `awon (H5771), perversity, moral crookedness], are drawn from the cardinal passage on the forgiving character of God (Exodus 34:7), "forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (cf. note, Psalms 19:13). The three may also be distinguished thus - "transgression" is sin of commission; "sin" is deviation from the mark or standard-God's Word; "iniquity," all that is opposed to equity and righteousness.

Verse 2

Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Blessed ... imputeth not iniquity. Compare on the phrase 'impute (i:e., set down to the transgressor's account his) iniquity,' 2 Samuel 19:19. Paul (Romans 4:1-8) quotes this passage as proving the doctrine of man's justification before God by faith, and not by works: to him that believeth, his faith is imputed for righteousness, and the Lord imputes not his iniquity to him for the sake of the merits and blood-shedding of the atoning Saviour, in whom he puts his faith (2 Corinthians 5:19).

And ... guile. The "guile" meant is shown by the contrast, "I acknowledged my sin," "mine iniquity have I not hid." It consists in hiding one's sin, and keeping silence (Psalms 32:3) as to it before God, through pride, love of sin and self, and want of faith toward God. Guile denies, or else extenuates, and seeks apologies for one's sin, and so is incompatible with the bestowal of pardon, and the consequent blessedness of experienced forgiveness. Such was the case with Saul, whose case contrasts with David's, as to the sin, the penitence, and the result respectively, (1 Samuel 13:9-14; 1 Samuel 15:9-30; 2 Samuel 11:1; 2 Samuel 11:12.)

Verse 3

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

Here begins the main body of the psalm, detailing from his own case the grounds why the guilelessly-confessing and consequently forgiven sinner is to be regarded as "blessed" (Psalms 32:1-2).

I kept silence (in contrast to Psalms 32:5) ... waxed old. When I tried to stifle the voice of conscience, and would not confess my guilt, my bodily frame was so affected by the torments of conscience, which would not be stilled, that it became powerless as that of an old man (Proverbs 17:22). His "silence" does not imply that he did not pray at all, but that he did not guilelessly (Psalms 32:2) "confess" his special, "transgression."

Through my roaring. The "silence" as to his sin stands in contrast to his "roaring" (literally, that of a lion) or loud moans, because he found no ease of mind or body, through the stings of conscience acting on his frame.

Verse 4

For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

Thy hand was heavy - (1 Samuel 5:6; 1 Samuel 5:11; Job 13:21.)

My moisture ... - rather, 'my (vital) moisture was changed (from vigour to utter prostration, cf. Daniel 7:28; Daniel 10:8; Daniel 10:16), (as if) through the drought, summer' (Psalms 102:4). Or we may omit '(as if),' and take "the drought of summer" to be a poetical phrase for 'the heavy hand of God,' in the form of a tormenting conscience.

Verse 5

I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

My sin - (2 Samuel 12:13.)

Not hid - or "covered;" the same Hebrew as in Psalms 32:1. He only has his sins covered who does not himself cover them (Hengstenberg).

I will confess my transgressions - in contrast to his former "guile" (Psalms 32:2) and "keeping silence" (Psalms 32:3) I will confess my transgressions - in contrast to his former "guile" (Psalms 32:2) and "keeping silence" (Psalms 32:3).

Iniquity of my sin - (Proverbs 28:13.) He designedly repeats the same three terms, 'transgressions, iniquity, sin,' as in Psalms 32:1-2, to imply that his experience confirms the general truth stated at the outset-namely, the blessedness of guileless confession of all sin, and of its consequent forgiveness.

Verse 6

For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

For this ... a time ... be found - while the day of grace lasts (Deuteronomy 4:29; Isaiah 55:6). "For this" - because in my case forgiveness immediately followed confession. My experience encourages all to confess heartily their sin, as the sure means of finding in God a hiding-place (Psalms 32:7) from trouble.

Surely. The Hebrew [ raq (H7535)] means 'only' (Isaiah 28:19); this and nothing else shall be the result; or, "in the floods" - i:e., in overwhelming judgments for sin, which destroy all others, as the flood did in Noah's days,

They shall not come nigh unto him - only: he alone who ingenuously confesses his sin shall not be reached by the floods of wrath (Psalms 29:10; Psalms 18:16).

Verse 7

Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Thou ... trouble. There is a play on similar sounds in the Hebrew mitsar (H6862), titsreeniy (H5341), implying that trouble ceases to be trouble when God is our preserver.

Shalt compass ... A whole crowd of troubles encompased him when through his sin God was estranged from him; but now, instead, a circle of joyous songs encompass him through the favour of God. The Hebrew for songs (ramee) is the same as is translated "shout for joy," Psalms 32:11 (Job 38:7; 2 Samuel 22:1).

Verse 8

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

Verses 10-11

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

The conclusion. The sorrows awaiting the wicked, and the joy awaiting the righteous.

Many sorrows (shall be) to the wicked. "The wicked" here are not only the open transgressors, but all the unbelieving, as contrasted with

He ... trusteth - i:e., the habitually believing.

Verse 11. Be glad ... righteous - not absolutely "righteous," for Psalms 32:1-2; Psalms 32:5-6 make it characteristic of them, not that they have no 'transgression, sin, and iniquity,' but that 'the Lord doth not impute sin to them,' upon their sincere confession and repentance, and that they 'pray unto the Lord while He may be found.'

Shout ... - answering to "songs of (literally, shouts of joy, because of) deliverance" (Psalms 32:7).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-32.html. 1871-8.
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