The Imputation of Iniquity & the Righteousness of Christ (Psalm 32)
Psalm 32 - How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! 3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. 6 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. 9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.
Romans 4:5–8 - But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
The Blessing of Forgiveness (vv1-4) - 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 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 (vv3-6) - David’s testimony emphasizes 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). He resolved to confess his transgressions (plural) to the LORD. God forgave the guilt of his sin so he could testify of God’s mercy and deliverance.
The Exhortation to Trust (vv7-11) - 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