Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not [b]impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters. They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
How do you stabilize your life when you experience more ups and downs than the stock market? Where do you go when you’ve failed? Where do you turn when you’ve hurt those closest to you? Do you grab some rope and hitch it up to your sin pile and start dragging? Or, is there something better?
Before we look at Psalm 32 this morning, let me list a few things that guilt does to us.
While many of us wrestle with false guilt, too few of us take our real guilt seriously. Instead of confessing our sins, we often bury them or just try to ignore them. The Bible calls us back to the truth that we are sinners who have missed the mark of God’s perfection. Our own death warrants have been written into our birth certificates. In short, we struggle with guilt because we’re guilty. Ecclesiastes 7:20: “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”
From our text, David is the author. While he was a great king and walked with God for much of his life, we also know that he committed adultery and murder. When David speaks, he does so as a sinner who has been forgiven. The particular sin that David refers to is not important because there are plenty to choose from. He wrote this psalm to help us know that we can be fully restored and completely forgiven no matter what we’ve done.
Psalm 32 has also been referred to as one of “Paul’s Psalms” because it is quoted extensively in Romans 4:6-8 to help establish that we are declared righteous not because of what we’ve done, but because of what Christ has done on the Cross.
6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”
If you look at the very beginning of Psalm 32, right before verse 1, you’ll see the phrase, “A maskil.” This was a literary or musical term to indicate that the words to follow are very important. In other words, this is a “preaching psalm” given to us so that we can learn from the experiences of another. David wants us to pay particular attention to this inspired instruction so that we’ll understand and embrace our need for forgiveness.
This is likely one of the psalms that Paul had in mind in Colossians 3:16…
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
With that in mind, let’s see what we can learn about the fruit of forgiveness as we follow this simple outline:
1.The happiness of forgiveness (1-2) 2. The heaviness of sin (3-5) 3. The help of God (6-11)
1.The happiness of forgiveness.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
The very first word of Psalm 32 is “blessed.” This has a very rich meaning that cannot be defined with just one word. We could say, “How happy!” or “Congratulations to,” or, “Good for the one who,” or “Oh, the bliss of!” In addition, this word is in the plural so we could say, “Oh, the multiple happiness, the bundles of blessings to the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”
This is the second Psalm that begins with the word “blessed.” The first use is found in Psalm 1:1: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” We are to be congratulated when we avoid sin and refuse to follow those who are a bad influence in our life. We are blessed when we do right and yet when we do sin and mess up and have our sins forgiven, Psalm 32 says we are blessed as well. This is cool. It’s much better to avoid sin and experience the blessings that come from making right choices. But when we blow it, we can still be called blessed if we ask for forgiveness.
David provides a threefold description of sin in these first two verses. Charles Spurgeon calls this the three-headed dog barking at the gates of hell. “Transgression” depicts a defiant disobedience toward God, a revolt against the Almighty. “Sin” means to miss the mark of God’s perfection either through acts of commission or omission. The word translated “sin” in verse 2 is actually the word “iniquity,” which represents a crookedness, deformity, or perversion. The image is of a tree that is gnarled and twisted.
The point of using these three different words is to remind us that all types of sin and wrongdoing can be forgiven. We defiantly disobey, we miss the mark, and we’re inherently crooked. Our “little” sins are an affront to the Almighty and those “big” acts of rebellion offend our Holy God. But no matter what we’ve done, we can be restored.
David also uses a triad of words to express the fullness of our forgiveness. The word “forgiven” means, “to lift a heavy burden and carry it away.” Our transgressions are taken away. Instead of trying to tug them along with us, we allow the Lord to lift them from us. The word “covered” refers to that which is concealed. What is offensive to God is put out of sight. The idea is that our sins are so covered that they will never appear again.
The third phrase, “not count against” is rich in meaning. We get the words “reckon” or “impute” from this term. This is the same word used in Genesis 15:6,where God “reckoned” righteousness to Abraham. God does not count our sins against us and in their place, He has imputed the righteousness of another. God erases our sin-debt from the books as if it never happened. Romans 4 establishes that Christ’s right standing before God is ours and our sin is His.
No wonder David refers to the blessings of forgiven transgressions, the covering of sins, and the erasing of our iniquities. Isaiah 1:18: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” And, according to Isaiah 43:25, when God forgives, He no longer remembers our sins: “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
This reminds me of a story about a man who was telling his friend about an argument he had with his wife. “Every time we have an argument, she gets historical.” The friend corrected him and said, “You mean hysterical, don’t you?” “No, I mean historical. Every time we fight she drags up stuff from the past and holds it against me!” Church, God will not get “historical” with you if you have confessed your sins to Him. Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” I love Micah 7:19: “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
In the last part of Psalm 32:2, David says that God does all this for the one in “whose spirit is no deceit.” That doesn’t mean someone who has no faults but rather refers to those who readily admit their sins. It’s the idea of authenticity. It means that we are not deceitful in acknowledging our sin. Listen carefully. The key to the Christian life is not our personal holiness, but our repentance. It’s not a matter of trying to be perfect but recognizing that we’re not. We need to fully admit that we are twisted transgressors and selfish sinners. Far too many of us are dishonest about our sins.
2. The Heaviness of Sin.
3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old. Through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Look at verse 3: “When I kept silent, my bones grew old. Through my groaning all day long.” David is reflecting upon those times when he chose to keep quiet about his sins. When he tried to ignore his iniquities, his bones felt like they were decaying.
David tells us that his groaning went on all day long, or continuously, without intermission. When we don’t own our sins, our bodies revolt. Instead of happiness, we experience heartache. When we keep our mouths shut, our conscience screams. When we bottle up evil our bones waste away. Proverbs 28:13: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper.”
He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
We could put it this way: we are only as sick as our secrets. When you hide your sins, you will be unhealthy and when you share your secret with God and with someone else, you’ll stop feeling sick. The secret you want most to conceal is the one you most need to reveal.
Verse 4 continues, “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.” Even at night David could not rest from the cries of his conscience and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The word “heavy” means, “to grievously afflict.” God’s hand can bring blessings but can also bear down on us. It’s because He cares so much for us. He loves us just the way we are but loves us too much to let us keep living the way we are. As Hebrews 12:10 says, “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.”
10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness.
David recalls feeling like his strength was sapped, his energy evaporated as in the heat of the summer. Guilt is really a divine implant graciously designed to bring the sinner back to God.
These verses remind us that when we don’t fully confess, we will experience emotional and physical distress. Anger and bitterness can come as a result of unconfessed sin and will eat your insides out.
David is suggesting here in verse 4 that we could be dry spiritually because of some specific disobedience in our life. After describing his spiritual drought and distress, David then writes the word, “Selah” immediately following this verse. This is a word that beckons us to pause and think about what has just been said. David doesn’t want us to miss the point. Only confession will bring restoration.
Verse 5 gives us the right approach. When David could find relief in no other way, he said, “Then, I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ -- and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Instead of concealing, David is now confessing. He first acknowledged his sin by stating the obvious. Then he stopped trying to cover it up. By the way, we can’t expect God to cover what we’re not willing to uncover.
Notice that he takes personal responsibility by the use of personal pronouns my sin, my iniquity, my transgressions. David repeats the three words for sins mentioned in verse 1: he acknowledges his sin, he does not cover up his iniquity, and he confesses his transgressions to the Lord. Notice that he doesn’t deny, minimize, or blame someone else. He simply calls his sin, “sin.” It’s not an error, a mistake, or a lapse in judgment. He doesn’t argue about what the meaning of “is” is. The greatest holdout to the healing of my hang-ups is me.
Confession is more than merely informing God that we’ve sinned. It also involves a turning away. It’s only when we stop being quiet about our specific sins, when we refuse to hide our transgressions and admit to God what we can barely admit to ourselves, that we will experience the fruit of forgiveness. Instead of just confessing our sins wholesale, it’s time to own up for the specifics.
Here’s a helpful phrase to keep in mind, when you make a mess, confess! When you recognize your sin and reject it, God will remove it, “And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”
We don’t have to beg God to forgive us because He wants to forgive more than we want to be forgiven. We don’t have to bargain with Him, and we don’t have to bribe Him by promising to do a bunch of good things, and we don’t have to do penance for the bad things we’ve done. Another pause is needed here Selah so that we don’t rush past the beauty of having all of our sins forgiven.
Lastly…3. The Help of God.
Psalms 32:6 -11
6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters. They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
1.His protection (6-7). David urges those who are “godly” to pray. That doesn’t mean those who are perfect but those who are “inclined” to be godly. It’s not someone who is holy, but refers to the person who belongs to a holy God. There’s a sense of urgency attached to this call to prayer. Pray now while you can. When we seek Him he will protect us from the deluge of mighty waters. Verse 7 says… “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance”. It’s interesting that in the beginning of this psalm, David is hiding his sins from God; now he is hiding himself in God. Whenever we confess our sins and find forgiveness, we will want to seek shelter under His wings.
2. His instruction (8-10). God promises to instruct us and teach us in the way we should go. The blessing of protection is wonderful, but it would be incomplete if it were not accompanied by His direction. What good would it be if He guarded us from destruction but didn’t tell us which way to go?
Verse 9 warns us about not being stubborn and stupid when it comes to following God: “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.” By nature, most of us are wild and unwilling to obey. When David acted like a mule, God put the bridle of suffering on him and pulled him to repentance. Is God humbling you right now? Is He trying to break you with the bit and bridle? He only does this so we will see our need and come back to Him.
3.His joy (11). When we stay close to the Lord by cultivating a spirit of surrender and submission, and when we practice regular confession, we can’t help but break out into joy, “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” The word, “rejoice” means to “spin around with glee.” And the phrase “be glad” literally means, “to brighten up!” When we have our sins forgiven, we can’t help but break out into spontaneous expressions of joy. David put it this way in Psalm 92:4: “You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.”
Those who are forgiven much love much. Those who have their sins covered can leap for joy. Conversely, if you don’t have much joy in your life today it may be because you’ve been carrying around a burden of guilt. Sin may be sucking the life out of you. It may be strangling your joy. If you want to truly be happy and stop living with so much distress, then learn to confess!
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Pastor Richard Santos
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