Psalm 32

Posted on February 11, 2011 by


This psalm is one of my favorites. It has a very definite repentant feel to it and it includes, even starts with, the truth of God’s forgiveness and grace.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

This opening has brought up different emotions at different times. When I am struggling with sin or with the accusations of the devil it seems like a slap in the face. As if to say, look how blessed those people are. They are forgiven and so blessed, but you are so defiant that God refuses to even bless you. I believe this to be a twisting of this text and more reflective of my heart than anything else. Like when someone whom you love and who loves you says that you are speeding on the freeway and you hear it as being judgmental and critical of your driving when really they were just saying to slowdown a little.

But when I am broken over my sin, or when I am intimately aware of the love and grace of Jesus, it comes as a sweet encouragement. As if to say, you are blessed by forgiveness and I don’t count your sins against you, Jesus has paid for your blessing of forgiveness.

The last part of verse two here, “in whose spirit there is no deceit.” reminds me of 1 John 1:8.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. “

(1 John 1:8-10 ESV)

Those who are dishonest about their sin, confessing in part or intentionally hiding besetting sins, cannot truly be happy in their forgiveness.  This is a great transition into the next stanza.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away

through my groaning all day long.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;

my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.


Have you ever felt this? I have. It those times where I have sinned and you know I should confess it but, for whatever reason, I close off and refuse to tell anyone. Sometimes I even try to convince myself that there is really nothing wrong. But in my heart I feel empty and distant. I feel like something is eating away at me. This, even though painful, is good. It is God reaching into your life and letting you know that there is something wrong, and He is calling out for you to repent. I have come to see this not only as a call to repentance, but as a confirmation that I have the Holy Spirit working in my life. If God had given up on me He would simple turn me over to my sin, this aspect of the wrath of God is very real (Romans 1:24,26,28)

The artist in me almost enjoys this feeling, and not in the good way I just described. I feel almost at home with my heart being torn. And there are the lies that I can believe that tell me I’m more creative when I’m like this. God isn’t causing this pain to increase your creativity, He is calling you to joy that only being right with Him can accomplish.

It’s like punishing a child. I don’t have any so I will only speak from the child’s perspective, since I was one once. Growing up, when I sinned, my dad would send me to my room with the knowledge that he would be following after a bit. While I never knew what he was doing, I knew what was coming. That time sitting in my room was worse than the punishment; it forced me to think about what I had done and why I was being punished for it. If my sin involved me lying about it my dad would give me the chance to tell the truth. I knew that if I told the truth the punishment would be as severe. God’s rending our hearts to bring us to repentance is like this sometimes. All sin has consequences, but sin you are trying to hide from others, God, and sometimes yourself, will always come to light in a way that causes more destruction than confession and repentance.

A weakness in this simile is that we aren’t punished by God for our sins, for instance we can’t say “My car broke down because I lied to my wife about working longer when I was really hanging out with my friends.” Or “This cancer (yours, your spouses, child’s, parents or friends) is because I stole/lied/cheated/murdered/raped/blasphemed/etc.” Jesus paid for ALL our sin. And while there are natural consequences to sin [if you lie you will be found out and lose that persons trust, if you kill someone you will be put in jail] but there is no supernatural punishment that is not calling you to repentance.

So don’t rest in this pain, RUN TO GOD.

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.


Again, 1 John comes to mind;

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(1 John 1:9 ESV)

How can God be “Faithful and Just” to forgive us? It’s not because we are “really sorry”, or feel bad about it. He is just, or right, to forgive us because He already paid for our sin on the cross. When Jesus came and lived a perfect life and died on the cross as God and Man, He paid for our sin. God has already served out the punishment for all the sin that the world, this includes you and me, will ever commit.  He is faithful because he has said that if we confess our sins He will forgive us, therefore His doing so only proves His trustworthiness.

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.

You are a hiding place for me;

you preserve me from trouble;

you surround me with shouts of deliverance.


“Therefore” There is a lesson here! Don’t wait to confess your sins. You do not know the time of your death, it could be while reading this, or it could be while driving to dinner one night. So it would be foolish to say, “It can wait till it feels right.” No it cannot! Pray to God, confess your sins, and beg to be close to Him. Are we so important that begging God for forgiveness should wait for our schedule, or demeanor fits?

“in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.”  Waters image danger, or violence. So think “when things get dangerous, he (the one who is godly) will not be touched” The word that is translated originally as “reached” can also be “touched”. If you are right with God, aka not hiding sin and trying to be close to Him, then the bad things in life will not overtake you. If God doesn’t blot us out of existence for all the crap we pull, how much more will He protect us from being destroyed by things of this world. God is our protection and if we listen to his word He reminds us of this over and over.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

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.

God would much rather we listen to him, instead of being stubborn and dense like a mule that has to be forced or coerced into doing what is right. God doesn’t want to have to drag us along into righteousness, He wants us to learn and follow Him. He has given us His word to instruct and teach us, and He has been faithful to enlighten these texts to Men and Women throughout the ages. And some of these men and women have recorded what God has taught them. Reading these reflections on scripture do not replace reading scripture, but they can help clarify things if you get stuck, or confirm thoughts that seem hard or contradictory.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,

but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,

and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Don’t let this world get you down, because we know that our sins have been paid for, and we stand right with God. Don’t let a stoic and empty view of Christianity taint the joy that we have in Christ and His salvation. It may seem “more religious” to be dark and moody about life, claiming that we have an internal joy.  This is like the fasting that Jesus commends us not to do.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

(Matthew 6:16-18 ESV)

This muted life doesn’t honor God or reflect his nature. Jesus Wept. Jesus was funny, really He was. Try reading some of His parables and sayings in light of the fact that He was a carpenter and lived with men that weren’t the intellectual elite. I sometimes fail at this and read Jesus like He was a professor in some dusty school, or some holy man that has attained enlightenment and is not bothered by any earthly thing.

Psalm 32 is one of my favorite psalms and I hope you can see why. There is so much in these 11 verses, and I pray that God opens your minds and hearts to His truth, and that you see that He is pursuing you. So for the sake of all that is good, pursue Him!

Posted in: Praxis, Theology