From Psalms 32-35
Psalm 32 expresses David’s heart after being confronted with his sin over Bathsheba and Uriah. David has asked the LORD for forgiveness and has received it. This is how he responds to the LORD’s forgiveness.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Ps 32.1-2)
David considers himself blessed. In fact the awareness of the forgiveness he has received overflows to the many because he implies that everyone who receives the LORD’s forgiveness is blessed. He uses other expressions in parallel with forgiveness suggesting they are synonymous. Forgiveness means having ‘sins covered’ and the LORD ‘counting no iniquity’. Despite having sinned, the LORD does not see it or hold it against them. Its gone.
David commends honesty before the LORD.
Blessed are those whose spirits are not deceitful. To come before the LORD and ask for forgiveness requires honesty.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah (Ps 32.3-4)
For a while David kept his sin to himself. Perhaps he refers to the time between when he actually committed the sin and when Nathan confronted him with it. During this time David feels that he was ‘wasting away’ and ‘groaning’. The LORD’s hand was on him, bearing him down. Perhaps for some this is what it is like during a prolonged period of impenitence for a known sin.
The LORD’s actions are perhaps a sign that he should repent and a measure of his grace.
The LORD could have given him over to his sin.
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. Selah (Ps 32.5)
As soon as David confessed to what he had done he understood the LORD had forgiven him. What a burden he must have felt lifted from him when he did that.
The LORD forgives because he is faithful and just (1 Jn 1.9).
If you carry some sort of sin around and you feel the LORD’s hand is on you. Dont wait to repent, come to the LORD and confess. He will forgive you like he did David.
6 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.
7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah (Ps 32.6-7)
David turns his attention to others. He wants them to learn from his experience.
Everyone who is godly are to follow David’s example.
Note David’s use of godly. It does not imply the person is without sin. Rather the godly are those who have a relationship with the LORD and pray to him.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 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. (Ps 32.8-9)
David vows to instruct these people. He instructs them not to be ‘like a horse or a mule, without understanding’. They must be controlled because they do not understand. The godly understand the LORD forgives those who come to him in repentance and prayer. The wicked go through the motions of atonement and forgiveness without really knowing what they are doing.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! (Ps 32.10-11)
God’s steadfast love is his covenant love. The LORD cares for those (in the covenant sense) who trust him. These people are called ‘the righteous’. Righteous being a term which identifies members of the covenant who uphold their covenant obligations (normally keeping the law).
The main message here is that those who are in a covenant agreement with the LORD should continue to trust him. To come to him in repentance in prayer if they have sinned and receive his forgiveness.
Story of Israel
This instance in David’s life is significant in part because in Psalm 51 reflecting on the same event David says he did not need to offer an animal sacrifice to receive forgiveness of his sin.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Ps 51.1-2,16-17)
David received forgiveness of his sin through heartfelt faith and repentance.
Story of Jesus
The same fact Paul comments on in a complicated passage in Romans 4.
5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (cf. Ps 32.1-2)
9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. (Rom 4.5-9)
Paul touches upon a very similar concept to a parent regarding a child as their own. The child receives all the blessings associated with the relationship (food, shelter, clothes, care, etc). Forgiveness of sin (iniquity) is a covenant blessing (Ex 34.6-7; Ps 85.1-13; 103:1–19; Dan 9.3-10,19; Lk 1:67–79).
So those whom God counts as righteous (i.e. people upholding their covenant obligations) receive all the blessings of the covenant. This includes the forgiveness of sins.
What do you have to believe to be counted as righteous by God and thus be able to receive the covenant blessing of forgiveness?
24b It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Rom 4.24-25)
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