Blessedness consisteth in remission of sins. Confession of sins giveth ease to the conscience. God's promises bring joy.
A Psalm of David, Maschil.
Title. משׁכיל Maschil— It is thought that David in this psalm, being awakened to a fresh sense of his sin in the affair of Uriah by his son Absalom's rebellion, expresses his deep repentance for having thus heinously offended God; and therefore it is called in the Hebrew, " משׁכיל לדוד ledavid maskil, The Maschil of David; i.e. David's instruction; and in the LXX, David's συνεσις, " or his return to a right understanding of himself. Psalms with this title are generally of a moral nature, and designed to dispose the mind to attention and reflection. The Arabic title asserts, that David spoke this prophetically of the redemption of mankind; and the Syriac informs us, that it treats of the sin and fall of Adam, and contains a prophecy of Christ, by whom we are delivered from hell. And St. Paul gives great support to this assertion by his quotation, Romans 4:8. Though composed upon a particular occasion, the psalm was afterwards adapted to public use by the Jewish church, and was solemnly repeated on the great day of expiation, when the whole nation made a general confession of their sins.
Psalms 32:1. Whose sin is covered— Namely, by God, and not by man; who ought to confess and not to hide it. See Psalms 32:5. Covered from the wrath of God; who will not, upon man's repentance, and unfeigned belief in the great Mediator take any cognizance of it. This seems to be a metaphor, taken from writers who obliterate what is faulty. In whose spirit there is no guile, in the next verse, or prevarication, means, "whose sorrow for sin is sincere, and deeply affects his mind."
Psalms 32:3. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old— Because I kept silence, my bones were consumed. Mudge and Houb. See Proverbs 17:22.
Psalms 32:4. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer— Some have inferred, says Dr. Delaney, from Psalms 32:3, &c. that David continued some time impenitent after the affair with Bathsheba: but had he been long impenitent, it would have been impossible for him to say, mine iniquity have I not hid; however, he most beautifully and feelingly describes the distressed condition that he was in before his pardon was pronounced; his mind upon the rack; his body distempered and wasted with grief. But, in consequence of his pardon, his moisture was turned into the dryness of summer. So it should be translated. The change was as if he had been removed at once from the depth of winter into midsummer; as if all the storms and rains and clouds of that gloomy season, the finest emblems of grief, were changed at once into serenity and sunshine; all heaven clear, unclouded, and smiling upon him. This interpretation of the doctor's might be admitted upon the idea of the summers here in our climate; but we must consider that David wrote in one which was very different; and the drought of which he speaks is very common in the eastern countries. Rain indiscriminately in the winter months, and not at all in the summer, is what is most common in the east. So it is at Aleppo, and about Algiers; and the summers in Judea are usually perfectly dry. It is therefore, doubtless, to the withered appearance of an eastern summer in common, that the Psalmist refers. See the Observations, p. 4. 13 where an account of a Syrian summer is given from Dr. Russel, which supplies us with a most beautiful comment on this passage. He says, that "from the end of May, if not sooner, not so much as one refreshing shower falls, and scarce a friendly cloud appears to shelter from the excessive heat of the sun till about the middle of September; that the verdure of the spring fades before the middle of May, and before the end of that month the whole country puts on so parched and barren an aspect, that one would scarce think it capable of producing any thing, there being but very few plants which have vigour enough to resist the extreme heat." In defence of this latter interpretation, a writer has urged the mechanism of the psalm; for, says he, this is one of those compositions which, according to the genius of the Hebrew poetry, express the same sense twice over in almost every verse. But, if we take the new interpretation of it above given, the latter part of the verse will have no connection at all with the former; nay, will be directly contrary to, and inconsistent with it. And to say no more, all the old versions and the best commentators do agree in the sense which we have given above.
Psalms 32:6. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee— For this, namely, because thou art merciful, shall every one that is godly, truly penitent, and sincerely resolved for the future to serve thee, pray unto thee, in a time when thou mayest be found; while there is room for repentance and reconciliation with thee. See Isaiah 55:6. The Chaldee renders it, in an acceptable time; the Arabic, in a time of hearing. There is considerable difficulty in the next clause. By the floods of great waters, some understanding dangers and distresses; agreeably to which the meaning is, that in the greatest difficulties and distresses, which may surround him like a deluge of water, they (those waters or distresses) shall not come nigh him, so as to swallow him up; but he shall in the end be delivered from them. Dr. Hammond, however, observes, that the words may be otherwise rendered, But as for the inundation of many, or great waters, (hereby signifying the wicked man, who, like a torrent, breaks over the bank, transgresses the laws, and sweeps and carries away all before him) they will not come nigh, or at all approach unto him; God, that is. They run on obstinate in their course; they care not for, nor ever look after God. Thus the opposition in the former and latter part of the verse seems to be exact; nor is the change of person from thee to him any objection, that being frequent in this poetic writing. See Psalms 18.
Psalms 32:8. I will guide thee with mine eye— Let me counsel thee with mine eye towards thee: Mudge: who observes, that the author undertakes to instruct whoever he be that hears him, and to give him a hint of advice (for that is counselling with the eye); namely, to do as he had done; honestly to confess his sins when they have been committed: for the wicked man, the man of no principles, who gives a loose to crimes without repentance or confession, is never easy, and always feels himself galled; whereas the righteous man, who puts his trust in God, and submits himself to his government, shall always find himself encompassed with favour, Psalms 32:10. The 9th verse should be read in a parenthesis. It is advising to take a good hint, and not be like the horse or mule, who understand no reason but the force of the bridle, and therefore will not come near one upon speaking to, or looking at them. Houbigant renders the last clause, very properly, Or they will not come near thee; for as they are not dangerous beasts, the word lest is extremely improper.
Psalms 32:11. Be glad in the Lord— Bishop Hare supposes that this verse belongs to the next psalm, because it has no connection with the foregoing verse, or any part of this psalm; but if placed at the beginning of the next, the two first verses agree very well together, and correspond with great propriety. As a further support of this conjecture, it may be observed, that almost throughout that psalm the verses are exegetical, containing the same or a similar sense; whence it is likewise probable, that this psalm was performed in parts by two divisions of the choir. See Bishop Hare and Mudge.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,
1. A declaration of the rich grace of God, made to returning sinners in Christ, and the blessedness thence accruing. Their transgression is forgiven, be it never so great, never so aggravated, never so long persisted in; their sin is covered; the blood of Jesus blots out the dread account; their iniquity is not imputed, no charge lieth against them, because he who knew no sin, was purely spotless in himself, hath become sin for them, and has borne all the wrath, which was the wages of sin, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him; might be, as considered in him, treated as righteous persons, who never had offended: these are blessed; no terrors of conscience dismay them, no fear of death need trouble them, nor any dread of judgment distress them; for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. Such is their privilege, and their practice is answerable thereto: in their spirit there is no guile; the same grace which justifies the guilty sanctifies the unholy: they are blessed with simplicity of heart before God, and yield themselves up to the guidance of his word and Spirit.
2. He describes his miserable state, while sin reigned in him and over him; God's hand was heavy upon him in some violent disease, which parched up his body as the drought in summer; and the anguish made his very bones wax old, he appeared so emaciated thereby. Note; (1.) Miserable is the state of the impenitent sinner. (2.) However severe the scourge which drives us to God, we have abundant reason to kiss the rod.
3. At length his silence broke, and he spoke with his tongue in penitent confession; with deep and unfeigned humiliation laying bare his bosom before the heart-searching God, and desiring to hide none of his transgressions. Note; (1.) It is a blessed symptom when the sinner is brought to his knees. (2.) They who are truly awakened by God's Spirit, desire to take shame to themselves; not palliating their offences, but in their aggravated guilt acknowledging and lamenting them.
4. While he was speaking God, heard and pardoned. I said I will confess, &c. and (possibly ere the purpose was formed into a prayer) thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin, sealed the pardon to my conscience. Note; (1.) All who come to God in Christ, will find him readier to pardon than we to pray; what an encouragement to the chief of sinners! (2.) It is not our penitence, or our prayers, but God's free grace, to which alone we are indebted.
2nd, They who have a pardoning God cannot but rejoice in hope.
1. David professes his confidence in God, and his expectations from him. Thou, the bleeding lamb of God, whose wounds are open for me, thou art my hiding-place, whither my poor and sinful soul hath fled, and where it lies secure from all the accusations of conscience, the charges of Satan, and the fears of wrath: there no trouble can approach, but songs of deliverance compass me about, for guilt pardoned, for corruption subdued, for heaven opened. Note; They who have fled to Jesus for refuge have found matter for eternal praise.
2. By sweet experience he can now teach others the way to rest and peace, and pardon and joy unspeakable. I will instruct thee, &c. will point the path that I myself have trod; and in which whoever walks will find the same blessedness. Note; (1.) They who speak from experience will preach most effectually. (2.) A teachable spirit is the way to true wisdom. (3.) God's word and ministers, under the blessing of the Spirit, are our appointed guides, and we must hear them.
3. He warns the obstinate and incorrigible of their approaching misery, and cautions them to avoid it. They must not, like brute beasts, be slaves to their appetites, nor refractory against the divine word and warnings; for then their sorrows would be multiplied, and their torments insupportable and endless.
4. He encourages the faithful to adhere to God, and rejoice in him: while they trust in God, his mercy shall compass, his power guard them. Therefore, be glad and rejoice, ye righteous; glory in your privileges, and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart; ascribe the praise to him to whom you are indebted for all the grace bestowed upon you; and look forward, with holy transport, to the kingdom that he hath provided for you, Amen! Amen.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 32". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany