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Psalms Lesson 11 - 32:1-11

SSL 11 - Psalm 32:1-11

Prayers & Announcements

LAST WEEK: We covered Psalm 51, a penitential song written by David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and to cover it up, arranged to have her husband, Uriah, killed. The broad truth of the Psalm is that no matter how detestable the sin, all who come to God in a spirit of brokenness and humility can appeal to Him for forgiveness. The five points of application telling us how and why we should do this are as follows:
1. Unconfessed sin in a believer's life results in guilt and broken fellowship with God. When we sin, God will convict us. However, if we avoid dealing with the sin that confront us, God will take stronger steps (i.e., discipline us) to move us back towards Him.
2. In order to be cleansed from sin, we must go to God. We cannot cleanse ourselves nor can others cleanse us. Only God alone can cleanse every fiber of a life stained by sin.
3. God never designed us to be receptacles for the garbage of sin. When we allow unconfessed sin to remain in our lives, we endanger ourselves. Unconfessed sin is like a disease that eats us up on the inside, harming us spiritually, mentally, and physically. It robs us of peace, joy, strength, and security.
4. God's infinite powers of cleansing and healing will lead to joy and gladness. The whole point of cleansing and restoration is to gain a renewed relationship with God, and once regained, it will bring great joy and gladness to our lives.
5. Those who have experienced God's grace of forgiveness cannot keep silent. In this psalm, David vowed to proclaim the message that there is mercy and forgiveness with the Lord. Like David, we too should have a burden to proclaim the forgiveness of God, especially people we know who are living in misery and guilt over unconfessed sin.

THIS WEEK: We move to Psalm 32, entitled a Maskil (Heb. = Contemplation or Instruction) of David. The psalm does not tell us the specific occasion in David's life that prompted this song, but its central theme proclaims that the blessings of forgiveness should impel us to confess our sins. In Psalm 51, covered last week, David promised "to teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to you" (Ps. 51:13), and this may very well be the fulfillment of that vow. In that psalm, David described the agony he felt to have God as his condemning judge, then expressed his great joy and relief of experiencing God's forgiveness.

Read Ps. 32:1-4 - The Blessing of Forgiven Sin vs. the Agony of Unconfessed Sin

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.
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

v. 1: "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven...sin is covered" - In the Hebrew "Blessed" is expressed in the plural, meaning multiple, ongoing blessings. By experience, David fully grasped the seriousness of sin and the great blessings of being forgiven and that once forgiven, knowing his sin was no longer exposed; it was "covered." The term "transgression" generally denotes the sin of rebellion, a refusal to submit to rightful authority. "Forgiven" in the Hebrew literally means to take away or lift a burden, and "covered" means its been removed from sight. As Christians, our transgressions are forgiven because our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

v. 2a: "man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity..." - Here, the term "counts no" (or not counted) means not charged to our account. "Iniquity" is a type of sin that comes from a word meaning bent or twisted, with the suggestion of committing acts that are crooked or perverted. Thus, a forgiven man's account is no longer charged for such sins.

v. 2b: "in whose spirit there is no deceit" - "Deceit" is a sin of deliberate falsehood or hypocrisy, and in the case of the forgiven man, his life no longer needs deceit to cover or hide his ways.

v. 3: "when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning" - David remembers his spiritual and mental state when his sin was hidden and he was silent. That he "kept" it suggests a deliberate stubbornness that conflicted with a guilty conscience. Bones wasting away and groaning impart a sense of feeling old, deflated, and oppressed. Today we would call this being in "denial," outwardly normal but inwardly miserable.

v. 4: "day and night your hand was heavy upon me...strength was dried up as by the heat of summer" - "Day and night" indicates that his guilt and shame plagued him all the time. Garrison Keillor, host of the Prairie Home Companion radio show, joked that, "Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving." Carrying this burden of guilt around day and night is debilitating, as in "dried up as by the heat of summer" (in Arkansas for sure!). But, actually, it's a good thing, because God won't allow us to remain comfortable and content with unconfessed sin; He will continue pushing us until we reach the breaking point.

Read Ps. 32:5 - the Blessing of Confession and Forgiveness

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

v. 5a: "acknowledged my sin...did not cover my iniquity" - This key verse marks a turning point in David's life-when he acknowledged his sin before God. Up to this point, David had had two problems: (1) committing adultery and murder and (2) living a double life in an attempt to hide those sins. It was only when David was ready to repent and end the second problem that God would graciously forgive the first problem. "I did not cover my iniquity" can be paraphrased as "I didn't try to conceal or rationalize any of the wicked things I did"-he was transparent before God.

v. 5b: "I will confess my transgressions" - Forgiveness was ready and waiting for David as he agreed with God (notice that) about the nature (adultery, murder) and the guilt (it was all his responsibility). The problem with many people today, even those who profess to be Christians, is that they refuse to acknowledge they are sinners. They may have heard that "everyone falls short," but they don't apply it to themselves. They won't take the first step-agreeing with God (i.e., You, Father, are right and I am totally wrong).

v. 5c: "You forgave the iniquity of my sin" - While David's confession of his sin did not earn him forgiveness (no one can earn or bargain for forgiveness), it allowed him to receive forgiveness (which is granted by God's mercy and grace). In making a true, contrite, humble, and heartfelt confession, David was forgiven immediately, just as the prodigal son in Lk. 15: 11-32 was forgiven immediately.

Read Ps. 32:6-9 - The Blessing of God's Protection and Instruction

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
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.

v. 6a: "let everyone who is godly offer prayer to You when You may be found" - Here, after receiving the blessings of God's forgiveness, David exhorts his fellow believers ("godly" = people who follow God but are certainly not sinless) to pray immediately, to confess any hidden sin. Since God is omnipresent, He may be "found" anywhere at any time; however, in order to "find" Him, we must approach His throne with honest humility and contrition, holding nothing back.

v. 6b: "surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach Him" - Poetically, David expresses what it feels like to be weighed down in the misery of unconfessed sin, like "the rush of great waters," pushing you deeper and deeper, and "shall not reach him" signifies broken fellowship.

v. 7a: "You are a hiding place...preserve me from trouble" - David, the same man who in v. 4 felt oppressed by "God's hand," here declares God to be his hiding place, a safe refuge. Before, he feared God as his judge but now sees Him as a deliverer and protector who keeps him in safe hands.

v. 7b: "surround me with shouts of deliverance" - The word "shouts" in this phrase is commonly understood to mean songs, and singing expresses human thought emotionally. So David was not only safe and secure in God's hand, but felt as if he were surrounded by the heartfelt songs of joy and praise that were indicative of temple worship in his day. It reminds us of the invocation Psalm 95:1 where the psalmist encourages us to "make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!"

v. 8: "instruct you and teach you in the way you should go... counsel you with my eye upon you" - Here, David praises God prophetically, for both himself and that nation of Israel, for the blessing of His instruction. When David was trying to hide his unconfessed sin, he couldn't look upon God for the "counsel of His eye," and therefore, could not receive it; but now, with fellowship restored, the blessing of such a close relationship could be experienced again.

v. 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" - David presents an interesting analogy. Horses and mules are used as examples of animals that are not easily guided unless they are equipped and trained with a bit and bridle, and until they are, they are virtually useless to their master. The point he's making is that rather than forcibly bridle us, God desires that we follow Him with willing trust and obedience; on the other hand, the "bit and bridle," in this context, is a metaphor for God's discipline, which God will certainly use on us if we continue to be stubborn and disobedient.

Read Ps. 32:10-11 - The Blessing of God's Joy

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!

v. 10: "Many are the sorrows of the wicked...steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts" - David ends the psalm by contrasting evil people, who he depicts as having troubled and generally unhappy lives, with "righteous" (i.e., upright and godly) people who are surrounded by God's unfailing love. The righteous aren't people who never sin but people who acknowledge and confess their sin to God with contrite hearts.

v. 11: "Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice...shout for joy, all you upright in heart!" - In this last verse, the thought of God's mercy to sinners who don't deserve it causes David to speak out with unreserved joy. "Up right in heart," in practical terms means that the Judge of the Universe has pounded his gavel and proclaimed, "I find you not guilty!" As Christians, we're free from the weight of our sins and free from eternal condemnation because Jesus Christ paid the penalty for us! Ask: Is there any greater joy than that of knowing that our sins are totally forgiven?


1. To "confess" means to acknowledge our sin to God. There are at least three components of this:
(a) We don't try to explain it away or rationalize it based on our personal history (i.e., blaming it on others) and we don't try to excuse it as human weakness (i.e., I couldn't help myself). We just say, "Lord, I sinned." The sooner we confess, the sooner we will experience God's blessing.
(b) We see our sin as serious. The closer you get to the Lord, and see sin from His perspective, the better you will understand the seriousness of sins damaging consequences. My sin (and yours) put the Savior on the cross. And sin always causes damage: (1) to the Name of Christ; (2) to others in His body; and (3) to ourselves. Thus, we must take sin serious and our confession of sin must be sincere.
(c) We see confessed sin as forgiven. No sin is too great to be forgiven. We must rest on the promise of God, that He is faithful and just to forgive us all our sin (did I say all?), yes, all our sin when we confess them to Him with humility, contrition, and complete honesty.

2. To "confess" means to accept responsibility for our sin. There are several aspects of this, too:
(a) Because sin deceives us, confession means that we remove the deceit (v. 32b). Our attempts to cover-up (which is self-deception) are at an end, so that we can now be wholly transparent and honest before God.
(b) Accepting responsibility means being willing to give up the sin or sins you're guilty of. It's a fraud and a lie to God if you confess without the willingness to abandon the sin.
(c) Accepting responsibility for sin also means confessing to others you have wronged. If you have sinned against someone else, first confess it to God, but then go to the person, confess your sin to them, and seek their forgiveness. In that way, our conscience is clear before both God and man.