This psalm is called a maskil of David. The term maskil is probably either a literary or musical term. This Hebrew word may be related to the Hebrew sakal, which means “to be wise or skillful”. Since maskil occurs in the title, this may suggest that it is normally used for teaching or giving instructions. This particular psalm describes the nature of sin and what happens in a person’s life depending on whether he or she refuses to turn from sin or confess and gives up the sin and finds forgiveness. Other maskil psalms are Psalm 42; 44; 45; 52-55; 74; 78; 88; 89 and 142.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit. Psalm 32:1-2
The only truly happy people are those who have received forgiveness from God. The guilt of their offenses against God does not weigh upon their hearts and minds. Their consciences are no longer troubled. This kind of relief and peace is open to all sinners who look to the Lord for mercy (“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29). This psalm describes God’s forgiveness in three ways.
- It brings pardon for the sin, thereby saving the person from sin’s final and eternal results.
- It covers the sin, or puts it out of sight, by removing its power and influence in one’s life.
- It keeps God from counting the sin against the person, thereby canceling and removing the debt of the sin from the record. This allows a person to experience the true joy and fulfillment of a personal relationship with his or her Creator.
“Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin’” (Romans 4:6-8) quotes verse 1 and 2 to show that God treats sincerely repentant sinners, those who are sorry to the point of giving up the sin, surrendering to God and completely changing their behavior, like they are righteous. This is not because they have earned God’s favor through good works of their own, but because they have received his forgiveness and a fresh start as a gift of God by admitting their sins and entrusting God with leadership over their lives.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
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. Psalm 32:3-5
These verses describe the grief and consequences of holding on to sin by trying to hide it. When David hid and denied his sin, he lost many things that were important in his life—his health, peace of mind, happiness and, most of all, favor with God. In place of these blessings, he experienced guilt, distress and strong discipline from God. Admitting guilt and the wrong that has been done with a heart that is ready to change will always result in God’s gracious pardon, the removal of guilt and the gift of his loving presence.
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.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
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.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:6-11
The Lord promises to instruct and guide his followers, those who have been forgiven for their sins. These followers are those who show evidence of a humble and teachable spirit. They show that they treasure his presence and counsel (verse 7), trust him completely (verse 10), rejoice in him (verse 11) and continue to do what is right (verse 11).
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Exodus 32-33, Matthew 26:69-27:14, Psalm 33:1-11 and Proverbs 8:33-36