Psalm 32:1-11

A Psalm of David. A Contemplation.

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

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

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

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.

You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

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!

a contemplation (introduction) — Considering the etymology of this term (conveying the basic notion of “imparting or expressing wisdom”) as well as it’s usage in the Psalms (14:2; 53:2; 41:1) and elsewhere (e.g., Proverbs 10:19; 16:20; 17:2; 21:12), it may be reasonably deduced that a maskil is a type of psalm focusing specifically on instruction in practical wisdom, based on the revelation and unchanging character of God.  — Wechsler, page 97

blessed (v.1) = lit. “Oh, how very happy!” — The Hebrew is plural. This isn’t material or circumstantial blessing but an enduring blessing of peace with God and life with Him for eternity.

forgiven (v.1) = lifted up, used to express forgiveness when used in conjunction with a word denoting sin

Paul quotes verses 1 and 2 in Romans 4:6-8:  Just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”

The three words for sin in the first two verses are not, I believe, designating separate categories of sin. I believe David was using poetic repetition while choosing words that described various, overlapping, aspects of sin.

transgression ( v.1) = passing over a boundary — an act of rebellion and disloyalty

sin (v.1) = missing a mark — missing God’s revealed will, often intentionally

iniquity (v.2) = something turned out of its proper course and perverted — a crooked or wrong act — a conscious intent to do wrong

As with David’s poetic repetitions and choice of various words for sin in verses 1 and 2, so, I believe, is the case in verse 5 where he uses various terms for the act of “coming clean” about his sin before God — acknowledge, stop hiding, confess.

confess (v.5) = cast out — The Hebrew word isn’t always associated with sin. It can be said of praise or thanksgiving.

great waters (v.6) — a figurative depiction of extreme distress (see Psalm 18:16; Isaiah 8:7-8), tied specifically to God’s first expression of collective punishment for human sin by means of the Flood (Genesis 6:9-9:19). — Wechsler, page 98


Verses 6 and 7 assure the safety of the forgiven man in the coming day of God’s wrath. The term “godly” means one to whom God shows mercy. It expresses the attitude of God toward the repentant sinner, rather than the moral worthiness of the repentant sinner toward God. “In a time when Thou mayest be found” should read, “In the time of the finding out of sin.” — Williams, page 321


Divine forgiveness … fosters more definitive moral clarity — i.e., a greater ability to perceive and appreciate the distinction between right and wrong as determined by God and revealed in His Word — as indicated by the expression “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go” (v.8), in which the expression “I will instruct” more precisely signifies the imparting (or modeling) of wisdom as likewise expressed, together with the same surrounding phraseology, by Joshua (1:8) in specific connection with the Law of God: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it …, for then you will make your way successful (in living godly, whatever the circumstances) and act wisely.” — Wechsler, page 99

The Lord is the speaker in verse 8.

I think verse 9 and 10 cast a great deal of light on the subject of confession. It isn’t a listing of specific wrongdoings, but a determination not to pretend our actions aren’t wrong or attempt to deal with them on our own. Instead, agree (to use the New Testament term) with God that we have sinned and trust that our sins are forgiven based on the promises (for Old Testament believers), or trust that He has already forgiven them in Christ (for New Testament believers). We will suffer guilt as long as we try to pretend our sin isn’t sin or attempt to control it with our own will.

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