You have never been so tense in your life. You have been held in custody without bail on a murder charge. The courtroom battle has dragged on for weeks, draining your vitality and weighing upon you with increasing anxiety. Finally, the big moment has arrived. With your hands manacled, the bailiff leads you into the courtroom. The jury files in after several days of deliberations. The courtroom falls silent as the judge calls the court to order. He asks, “Mr. Foreman, do you have a verdict?” Your heart is pounding and your mouth is dry as you watch him rise. The rest of your life depends upon his words. “Your honor, the jury finds the defendant not guilty.”
Not guilty! A flood of relief sweeps over you and tears of joy well up in your eyes. Not guilty! It’s as if a heavy weight has dropped from your shoulders! The bailiff unlocks your handcuffs and you hear the judge declare, “You are free to go.” …… Freedom from condemnation! Life suddenly takes on new meaning. You are free from confinement, free from the constant pressure of the charges against you, free to begin a new life, because you have been released from those charges. Can you imagine how that would feel?
I hope so! Every believer ought to know. David knew how it felt! Whether (Psalm 32) stemmed from David’s sin with Bathsheba or from some other incident, it shows that he knew how it felt to have God as his condemning judge. But he also knew the joy and relief of experiencing God’s forgiveness. In this Psalm he is instructing us, as this is a poem intended to teach; so that we can know the blessings of God’s forgiveness. Let’s break it down together, shall we?
(V. 1) Blessed is he whose sin is forgiven (lifted, pardoned, taken away). This is another way of saying that it’s no longer there in God’s eyes; it’s been forgiven. David is speaking from experience.
Basically, God locks our sin in the vault of grace and throws it in the sea of mercy.
(v.2) Blessed is the man that the Lord doesn’t charge with accountability for evil (sin) and whose spirit (the rational part of man, the conscience) is without deceit; his conscience is clear. This describes the relieved spirit of the man who has confessed his sin before God and knows he has been forgiven.
(vs 3-4) In these verses David begins to explain his experience of repentance and forgiveness. We all can relate to wishing that we could keep a sin hidden. For a child of God to attempt that is pure foolishness. David had an intimate relationship with God; he knew that God knew he had sinned; he just didn’t want to confess it to Him. That immediately set the stage for a huge struggle with his guilt, to the point that he was moaning and groaning and experiencing great depression. He finally got to the place that he could no longer produce any tears. Sin was the wound; silence was the infection.
“thy hand was heavy upon me”…. I thought that was a very telling expression.
David’s relationship was so close to the Lord that he recognized his guilt as the hand of God pressing him to repent. Satan will accuse you of sin God has already forgiven. God will only convict you of sin you need to confess.
Today’s society or culture has so conditioned us to believe that there is always something or someone else we can blame for depression and other mental/emotional conditions; we don’t even associate them with sin in our life. David knew he was trying to hide sin. Because of the undermining of God’s word today as well as the lack of knowledge of God’s word, people sometimes don’t even recognize their sin.
(v.5) Finally, David could take it no longer. He confessed his sin and rebellion to God. The Hebrew for confess includes the idea of “bemoaning with wringing hands.” This describes an attitude that is an acknowledgement of sin with repentance ~ true regret with intent to change. God never rejects His servant who comes to Him with true repentance and a desire for restored relationship.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
See also (1 John 1:9).
(v. 6) The Hebrew for “godly” includes “kind, religious, merciful and holy.” Obviously, the term came about as a comparison to the character of God. I thought the first half of this verse was an interesting expression. It implies that those who want to be like God in character and have fellowship with Him are the ones who pray. It also implies a time when God is not to be found. The last half seems to be a direct response to the thought of the times that God can’t be found. Even though He can’t be found, His provision for and protection of His servants can be depended upon. I think David is expressing this thought from a human perspective. We think God is able to “be found” when we are experiencing times of blessing and meaningful fellowship with God in worship and prayer. On the other hand, when the Lord permits those times that test us to refine and grow our faith, times when we don’t feel like God hears us, we think He can’t “be found.” Job is the perfect example. Although David has experienced those times when he couldn’t find God, he knew that God was still worthy of his faith; he could count on God to bring him through whatever trial or testing he was experiencing. I immediately thought of those beautiful verses in (Isaiah 43:1):
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I Will Be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.”
(v.7) David is confident of God’s protection and preservation in the midst of affliction, anguish, distress, sorrow, or trouble. What does it mean for God to surround you with shouts of joy and triumph of deliverance, escape, or safety? Maybe this is just an expression of joy after the time of testing is over. I would like to think more of it being a special gift of the Spirit to the servant of God that allows him to sing the praise of His Savior throughout the time of trouble. He is confident in His salvation in the Lord.
In the next two verses, the prayer has changed from a time of David talking to God to a time of God talking to David. I believe that is what prayer is all about—a time of two-way communication.
(v.8) “instruct” = to make or act, intelligent:—consider, expert, instruct, prosper, have good success. To “teach” = have understanding, wisdom; to flow as water (to rain); transitively, figuratively, to point out, direct, inform, instruct, to guide wittingly; to lead or direct in a way; to conduct in a course or path; to regulate and manage; to direct; to order. As I look over these definitions, it gives an emphasis of personalized instruction and direction. God wants us to have good success in life; He wants to give us understanding and wisdom to make application with that understanding. I liked the phrase “guide wittingly.” It means to guide by design; God has a special design/purpose for my life. I couldn’t help but latch on to the phrase “to flow as water” pertaining to the word teach. Today, we believers can expect to experience God’s teaching through the working (flow) of the Holy Spirit in our life… “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
The word teach also refers to taking aim, instruction with specific purpose.
And the word guide makes application to a specific path or course for each servant of God, but it also includes training the heart (morals) in conjunction with the mind (intellect).
(v.9) You can’t reason with a horse or a mule. You have to train them to a conditioned response through repetitive training. God is saying that He doesn’t want us to be like conditioned animals; like robots. He wants fellowship with those who come to Him through “choice” in response to His love and faithfulness.
(v.10) When the wicked reap the consequences of their actions, they will find no comfort or relief; they can only expect sorrow/pain/anguish. Those who trust in the Lord, however, can always expect to experience God’s mercy (kindness, favor) to carry them through to a place of deliverance. It reminds me of the verse in John:
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 6:33)
The Lord specifically states that those who follow Him will experience tribulation and trouble. The key is that He will deliver us through that experience. Not only that, we will benefit from that experience if we keep our focus on Him.
(v.11) As usual, David ends the Psalm in prpraise to the Lord. He exhorts the servant of God to be glad (joyful) and rejoice (to spin round with joy). I liked the thought that Webster added to the word glad; wearing a gay or bright appearance. As servants of God, our joy should be reflected in our countenance; people should be able to see the peace and joy that permeates our being. To “shout for joy” references being vocal so as to be heard by others. I think this is a reference to praising God aloud as the source of our peace and joy. We should reflect our love for and faith in God through our attitude and countenance as well as through bold and confident praise that can be heard and understood by others all around us …. Dance today, for your sins are forgiven and He is guiding you through each day …..
God is with us ….