The Blessing of Forgiveness (Psalm 32)
The Blessing of Forgiveness (vss 1-4)
This Psalm reflects David’s experience after his repentance for the sin of adultery, the attempted cover-up of the pregnancy of Bathsheba, and then several entangled murders to effect a final cover-up (2 Sam. 11, see v21). Only after the well-known confrontation of the prophet Nathan, does David make accept responsibility and make confession. Thus, Psalm 32 likely follows Psalm 51 as a testimony to his restoration. David apparently kept silent for some time prior to his brokenness after the confrontation with Nathan. In Psalm 32, he now reports how blessed is the state of forgiveness. Three words for sin used here (1-2): transgression is rebellion (pesha); sin is missing the mark/way (chata’ah); and iniquity is inward perversity(awon). He testifies that his transgression is “forgiven” (taken away, Ex. 34:7); his sin is “covered” (as in re-clothed), and his iniquity is not “imputed” or reckoned against him (see Rom. 4).
The Necessity of Confession (vss 3-6)
The emphasis of David’s testimony is the great benefits of not keeping sin buried inside. Forgiveness and covering, along with not having iniquity imputed to us require confession. During his time of silence, he not only experienced the temporal judgments of the loss of the child and the promise of evil from his own household (1 Sam. 12:11), he also knew misery in his own body (3-4). God disciplines us in our lives and especially through sin. David was then resolved to confess his transgressions (plural) to the LORD. God forgave the guilt of his sin. So that he could testify of God’s mercy and deliverance.
The Exhortation to Trust (7-11)
The final verses of the Psalm include both testimony and exhortation to others. David testifies that God is his hiding place, deliverer, and counselor (7-8). Then he turns to exhort himself and others, “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding” (9). Draw near to God, rather than act as a dumb animal. The wicked have sorrows, but covenant love will surround those who trust in the Lord. In this case, trust is demonstrated by confession of sin and seeking forgiveness (10). The final verse is a call to God’s people to, “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice” (11). It is addressed to the “righteous ones.” This amazing rejoicing of forgiveness finds it way into Romans: “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: How blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven…” (Romans 4:5–6).
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more