Psalm Bible Study (Worshiping God)

Psalm 32, Merciful Salvation

I. Blessed Is The One Whose Transgression Is Forgiven (32:1-2)

A. Blessed

  1. The psalm of David begins with the word “blessed.” This word should always awaken our attention because something important about our lives is being communicated to us. Some translations use the word “happy” but the word has a richer meaning and has greater depth do it than simply happiness.
  2. Being blessed is not about feeling happy. To be blessed speaks to having a fullness and completeness in this life. Being blessed means by doing the prescribed actions, one will have an inner joy, peace, and happiness that goes beyond mere feelings and is greater than our physical circumstances.
  3. This idea was evident in the sermon on the mount when Jesus preached that we are blessed when others insult us and persecute us. Obviously, insults and persecution do not bring immediate happiness. Happy would not be the right word here. Blessed, however, refers to the inner knowledge and joy of knowing we are suffering for the sake of the Lord, though we may not be happy while we endure the pain.

B. Looking at our sins

  1. In these first three verses, David uses three different words to describe our sins. The first word found in verse 1 is “transgression.” “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven.” This description refers to a rebellion or a revolt. This word describes how we go away from God and his authority. This word reminds us that when we sin, we are sinning against God and departing from the course he has laid out for us.
  2. The next word is also found in verse 1 and is translated “sin.” The rest of verse 1 reads, “whose sin is covered.” The word for “sin” used here is very similar to the Greek word found in the New Testament defined as “falling short” and “missing the mark.” This is used in archery of the arrow that falls short of its target. Regarding sin, the target is God’s law and we have failed to measure up to it.
  3. The third word used for sin is found in verse 2, which is “iniquity.” “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity.” The word “iniquity” means “corrupt, perverse, twisted, and crooked.” This word shows sin as twisting the right standards of God and corrupting ourselves in the process. These three words lay out the nature and the gravity of our sins. When we sin, we have departed from God and stand in rebellion against him. We have fallen short of God’s law and twisted and perverted the goodness of God for our own corruption.

C. Forgiveness

  1. In the same way, David also uses three words to describe the forgiveness from our sins that is available through God. The forgiveness offered is the thrust of these two verses. The first verse describes the blessed person whose transgression is forgiven. The word “forgiven” literally means “to lift off.” God is describing our sins being carried off of our lives and taken from us. The burden of sin has been lifted off of our shoulders.
  2. In verse 1 we also read that the blessed one is he or she whose sin is covered. This covering is taken from the imagery of the Day of Atonement. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest went into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled blood on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Of course, there was not a seat or chair on top of the ark of the covenant. The mercy seat was considered the lid or the covering to the ark. Blessed is the one who has his sins atoned for by blood on the mercy seat (covering) of God.
  3. Finally, in verse 2 we see the third word used to describe our forgiveness. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity. Some versions read “whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” The word “impute” means to “count, account, or think.” It is a bookkeeping term. David is telling us that God does not count our sins on a ledger sheet when we are forgiven. The words of David are rather simple. All of our sins, our corruption, and our rebellion is lifted from us, atoned for, and not counted against us when forgiven by God. How blessed we are when God forgives us!

D. Paul and Psalm 32

  1. Paul, however, sees much more than this being argued in this text. Turn in your Bibles to Romans 4:1-9. In Romans 4 Paul argues that we are not saved by a system of works, that is, doing more good things toward God than bad things against God. We are not saved by being good, moral people. Paul is going to use these first two verses of this psalm to prove the argument.
  2. In Romans 4:4 Paul says that if we are living under a system of works by God’s law, then God is not imparting mercy or a favor to us, but what is due to us. But to the one who does not rely upon His own good works to be saved, his faith is credited to him as righteousness. In Romans 4:6-8 Paul argues that David expressly made this very point. David does not say that the one who is blessed is he who does many good deeds so that God must give forgiveness as something due to him. A system of works is not in view at all. Instead, Paul argues for a system of faith that brings about forgiveness. Blessed is the one whose sins are lifted off of him, are covered, and are not accounted against him. David does not describe a system of doing good deeds as the reason one is forgiven, but God’s mercy as the reason. We trust in God to remove our sins. We do not find forgiveness in doing more good deeds than evil deeds. How blessed we are that righteousness is not imparted based upon trying make up for our sins.

II. The Burden of Sin (32:3-5)

A. Do not ignore sin

  1. In verses 3-4 David describes how terrible it was to keep his sin to himself. His bones wasted away through his groaning all day long. His strength was dried up and the hand of the Lord was heavy upon him. David is describing the burden of the guilt of his sin. His sin is eating at him continually and the guilt is wearing him down.
  2. We probably do not realize the toll that sin takes on our lives physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Ignoring sin always leads to committing more sins. In fact, what we think of as small sins grow into more serious sins. David is a good example of this. David began with lust in his heart for Bathsheba as she was bathing. But he did not take care of the sin at that time. This led to David committing adultery with Bathsheba. But he did not acknowledge his sin at this point either. David tries to cover up his sin by bringing Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, home from battle hoping that the adultery would be covered up. This did not work and again, instead of acknowledging his sin, he had Uriah killed in battle. David still ignores his sin and makes Bathsheba his wife, hoping the marriage will cover up the sin of lust and the sin of adultery.
  3. But no sin is covered up. God knows what happened. David knew what happened. God sends Nathan to rebuke David for all he had done. The great crime was ignoring the sin. When we ignore our sin, we are setting ourselves up to continue in sin. When we refuse to acknowledge our sin, we place ourselves down a path of committing even more grievous sins that will continue to harm ourselves, harm others, and grieve the Lord.

B. Our need for confession

  1. David says in verse 5, “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.” This is the appropriate response to transgressions. For some reason we truly think we can get away with our actions. For some reason we think that since we can hide our sins for one another and from our family, God will not know. Adam and Eve exhibited this foolish behavior, trying to hide their actions from the Lord. But this course of action leads to our own spiritual, mental, and emotional destruction.
  2. We must confess our sins to God. We must acknowledge our responsibility for what we have done. Only when we refuse to cover up our sins and openly acknowledge our sins to God can we be forgiven. David would not be forgiven of his sin as long as he continued to ignore what he had done. God sent Nathan so that David would open his eyes and see the evil he was committing. Only when David finally said, “I have sinned against the Lord” did Nathan tell David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). Forgiveness cannot and will not come from the Lord while we try to hide our actions from God. Once we come clean, God will make us clean by forgiving us.

III. Seek the Lord (32:6-7)

A. Today is the day of opportunity

  1. David calls upon the godly to seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and he will be found. Search for the Lord and we will find God reaching out to us offering forgiveness. We cannot ignore our sins. We must confess our sins. Next, we see David telling us we need to pray.
  2. Seeking the Lord means we must we talking to God at all times. After David confesses his sin, we see David fasting and praying concerning the consequences of his sins. Day and night David was fasting and praying, laying on the ground on behalf of his son who the Lord said was going to die. What a contrast to Saul who, when approached with his sin, blamed others and simply had an “oh well” attitude. David sees today as the opportunity to seek the Lord. We must have the same urgency to seek the Lord today, while he still may be found.

B. God will protect the godly

  1. When we seek the Lord, David tells us that God will protect us. God is described in verse 7 as a hiding place. God preserves from trouble and surrounds him with shouts of deliverance.
  2. We know that David is not saying that the godly have no troubles. David has numerous troubles in his life, one of which we have been alluding to concerning Bathsheba. David is saying that God can get us through the troubles. This is an ever-present reminder that God will help us through when we turn to him for help and not try to hide ourselves and our sins.

IV. The Way of the Lord (32:8-11)

A. God’s promise to us

  1. In verses 8-9 we see God speaking himself, giving his promises to those who confess their sins. God says that he will instruct us and teach us in the way we ought to go. God promises to lead us in the right direction when we are submitting to God’s will. God promises to counsel us with his eye always on us. What a beautiful promise from the mouth of the Lord! God is watching us. He has his eye on us. Let us never think that God does not care about us and is not looking out for us as we go through this life.
  2. God gets more direct with us in verse 9. Let us not act like senseless animals that have no understanding. Let us not be stubborn like horses and mules who need to be driven in the right direction because it will not work. God does not force us to go the way we ought to go. God will point to the proper path and we must choose to follow His direction.

B. God’s way

  1. In the final two verses we are told the benefits of following the way of the Lord and the consequences for not following His will. Verse 10 reminds us that the sorrow of the wicked are many. The sorrows of life will continue to heap themselves up on those who are wicked.
  2. However, the steadfast love of the Lord surrounds those who trust in the Lord. Which would you rather have in life: the many of sorrows of the wicked or the steadfast love of the Lord? The answer is obvious, but to have the steadfast love of the Lord then we must put our trust in the Lord. We must completely submit our lives to God. In the context of this psalm, we must openly confess our sins to God and thank the Lord that our transgressions are forgiven, our sins are covered, and our iniquities are not counted.
  3. Let us be glad in the Lord and rejoice for all that the Lord has done. Those who have their trust in the Lord have so much to be thankful for and have so much reason for joy. Praise God for his merciful salvation!
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