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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 32

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-11

Psalms 32:1-11

Now this next psalm is thought to have been written at the time of David's sin with Bathsheba. After the prophet of God, Nathan, had come to him and spoken to him of that sin. We will get another psalm that relates to this same situation in Psalms 51:1-19 . Another of the Penitent psalms.

David had many wives, and yet, one day while standing on the roof of his house and looking over the city of Jerusalem, he saw on the roof of a house nearby a beautiful lady bathing. And he was attracted to her, and he sent his servants over to her house to bid her to come to him. And David had an adulterous affair with her; her husband at the time was out fighting with the armies of David, under the leadership of Joab. David received in a few weeks a message from her, "I am pregnant." And David ordered that her husband be brought home from war and he sort of just said, "Well, how are things going? How is the battle going? How are the men? How is the morale?" and all. And then he expected the guy to go home and spend the night with his wife. What he was hoping is that the guy would go to bed with his wife and later on when she says, "I am pregnant," the guy would never know the difference. But it didn't quite work out that way because this fellow, rather than going home, spent the night on the porch of David's palace with David's servants. And in the morning it was told David, "He didn't go home last night. He spent the night here." And David called him in and said, you know, "Why didn't you go home? You had this wonderful opportunity to be with your wife." And the fellow said, "Well," he said, "all of my buddies are out there in the trenches and it wouldn't be right for me to enjoy a night with my wife when all of my buddies are still out there in the field fighting."

So David that day got him pretty drunk, thinking that if he gets drunk enough he will stagger home and still never know the difference. But he only staggered to David's porch and again spent the night there, and so David was faced with a dilemma and he took a tragic way out. A horrible way out. For David ordered Joab, his general, to put this fellow into the thick of the battle and then to withdrawal the other troops from him that he might be killed. And the ploy worked; Uriah was killed. And David then took Bathsheba as his wife. The child that was born became very sick. David prayed; the child died.

And then the prophet Nathan came to David, and the prophet said, "David, there was a man in your kingdom who is an extremely wealthy man. He had many servants, many flocks. Now next door to him there lived a very poor man who had just one lamb. And the lamb was like a child. It went to bed with him. It ate at his table, and it was just a pet, a family pet. Now this very wealthy man had friends come for dinner and he ordered his servants to go and by force take the one lamb from his poor neighbor and kill it in order that he might feed his guests." And David became very angry and he said to the prophet, "That man shall surely be put to death." And Nathan said, "David, thou art the man!"

Now David's response to that was that of repentance. David's actions were terrible. The scripture in no wise seeks to excuse the actions of David, but they also do point out the repentance of David. This is thought to be a psalm that relates to that period of David's life when he was going through this guilt of sin. When he was trying to carry it. He was trying to hide it. He was trying to bury it, and going through the guilt of this illicit affair. And this particular psalm relates to this period.

And David begins the psalm by saying,

Blessed [which is, Oh how happy] is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered ( Psalms 32:1 ).

Oh, what a happy moment it is when I have that assurance that my transgression has been forgiven, that my sin has been covered.

Now there is a difference between a transgression and a sin. A sin is not always a willful act. The word sin comes from a root word which means, "to miss the mark." God says, "Here is the mark. I want you to hit it." All right. And I take aim, and I miss. Now I may not deliberately miss. I may be trying to hit it. I might just be a poor shot. That is still a sin. I have missed the mark. Whether it is deliberate or just a lack of weakness or failure, it is still missing the mark that God has set. That is why the Bible says, "All have sinned." The Bible calls you a sinner. You may get uptight about that, but God said that you have all missed the mark.

Now when I tell you the mark is perfection, that is what God wants you to be, then, is there anyone here who is willing to stand up and say, "I have hit the mark. I am perfect. Look at me. I am Mister Perfect"? No, I think we will all confess, "I have missed the mark." Not always willingly. I have sought to be a better person than I really am. I am not as good as I would like to be. I have missed the mark.

A transgression is a little different, because a transgression is a willful, a deliberate missing of the mark. It is a deliberate action of disobedience on my part. God says, "Here is the line. Now, Chuck, I don't want you to go over that line." And I get busy with my activities, I am not paying any attention, and all of a sudden I am over here on the other side of the line. And God says, "Hey, hey wait a minute. There is the line I told you not to go over." "Oh Lord, I'm sorry. I forgot all about it. I, hmm, didn't mean to." I still went over it. It was a sin; it was a missing of the mark. It wasn't really a deliberate, willful kind of a transgression. Whereas if God says, "Here is the line, Chuck. Now don't you cross over it." And I step over it and say, "Okay, God, what are You going to do about it?" That is a deliberate, willful transgression. Many times sins compound into transgressions. I start off innocently enough. But then rather than repenting and turning, I seek to try to cover it and hide it and all, and it compounds until it becomes a transgression. But either way, oh how happy I am when it is all forgiven. When it is all over. When it is all covered.

O how happy is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, in whose spirit there is no deceit ( Psalms 32:2 ).

Now David had done his best to deceive. I mean, he was trying to set up Uriah. You know, "Go home and spend the night with your wife." And he was trying this whole deceitful little scheme. But he is talking now about an interesting experience here, "Oh how happy is the man to whom God does not impute iniquity."

Now I think that many people, because of Santa Claus, have gotten a wrong concept of God, and many people think of God as a glorified Santa Claus. That, just anything I want, all I have to do is come to God and just tell Him what I want Him to lay under my tree this Christmas, and God will give me anything that I insist on. Anything that I believe for. Anything that I will confess God will give to me, because after all, He's just a Santa Claus waiting to hear my request. And in carrying this concept of God as Santa Claus, we know that Santa Claus is making out a list and checking it twice, and going to find out who is naughty and nice. And if you have been naughty you are going to get a bundle of sticks. You know, he doesn't bring toys to bad little boys. Making this list, keeping the records.

Now, he is speaking about a man, "Oh how happy is the man to whom God does not impute, or account, iniquity." Who in the world would that be? A man that God isn't even making a black list on his deeds. Not imputing iniquity. Paul tells us in Romans that that happy man is the man who is in Christ Jesus. "For there is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus" ( Romans 8:1 ). Oh how happy is my life in Christ, this glorious life I have in Him. For if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship one with the other, and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, is continually cleansing me from all sin. God is not even keeping a record of my failure, of my sin. Oh what a happy man I am. Not only has He forgiven my transgressions, not only has He blotted out my sins, but He's not even keeping a record of my current failings. Oh how happy is the man to whom God does not impute iniquity, that man who is in Christ Jesus.

Now David goes on to express when he was trying to cover the whole thing and hide the whole thing and the reaction that it had upon him.

When I kept silence ( Psalms 32:3 )

That is, when I was trying to hide it, when I would not confess, when I would not bring it out and confess.

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long ( Psalms 32:3 ).

Did you know, you may try to hide your sins, you may try to cover your guilt, but it will find a way out. With guilt there is always the developing subconscious desire for punishment, which, if I cannot find a relief for this guilt, I will begin some abnormal behavioral pattern by which I am seeking to be punished. And I will start just doing weird things because I am feeling guilty and I want someone to punish me. I want someone to say, "Hey, man, you are weird. You're crazy. Something is wrong with you. You ought to go jump off of the pier." "Oh, thank you, brother. I needed that." Now I feel relieved from my guilt; someone has punished me.

When I was a kid I had no problem. My father took care of my guilt complexes very efficiently. And the old apricot tree, those switches always stung, but it sure got rid of my guilt complex. It was healthy, psychologically. But now I am older, no one to take me into the bedroom and apply the psychology. And so I have to do things, abnormal things, neurotic things, in order to be punished. Get people to punish me. Don't tell Romaine I said it, but this is why he is such a fantastic counselor. I mean you come in and he will lay it on ya! If you are wrong, I mean, he will tell you. And you go home relieved. You get angry with him because he is so straightforward, but I mean he will just tell you what a rat you are, you know. And he doesn't realize it, I am sure, but from a psychological standpoint it is very healthy. We see them storming out of here sometimes, steam coming out of the top of their head. And we say, "Well, they have been counseling with Romaine." He is so good.

But when you are trying to hide and cover your guilt, there is an inward roaring that is going on all the time. This inward turmoil. "When I sought to keep silent, my bones were waxing old because of the roaring all the day long."

For day and night thy hand was heavy on me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer ( Psalms 32:4 ).

"Boy, I will tell you. My life just became all dry. Just like a drought in summertime, no moisture, no life. Felt like I was dying." The Selah brings an end to that strophe of the psalm, and now we move into a new direction.

The first is the endeavor to cover the sin, the endeavor to hide the guilt. But now as we move into the new direction.

I acknowledged my sin ( Psalms 32:5 )

Now the Bible says, "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 ). So,

I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin ( Psalms 32:5 ).

Now, in the Hebrew language there is here the intimation of an immediate process. In other words, "The moment in my heart I said, 'I am going to confess my transgressions,' in my heart. Before I could ever get the words out of my lips, God had already forgiven me." God is only looking for the change of the attitude of your heart. The moment in your heart you say, "Oh God, I am sorry. I am going to confess. I am going to get it right with God." In that very moment, God's grace comes flowing over your life and the sins are all obliterated. Why should we carry guilt, why should we carry the sins, when God is so ready to forgive, so ready to cleanse, so ready to pardon? "The moment I said, 'I'm gonna confess,' Thou forgavest my transgressions."

Now we enter into the third strophe.

For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when you may be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near unto him ( Psalms 32:6 ).

Surely all of us ought to be seeking God, because of His love, of His grace, and of His preserving power. In the times of these great waters, in the times of tragedy, it shall not touch you.

For thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance ( Psalms 32:7 ).

So another Selah. We enter into a new strophe of the psalm. "God is my hiding place. He is my preserver from trouble. He encircles me with songs of deliverance."

Now in verse Psalms 32:8 we have a whole change of voice, and God is now responding to the psalmist. Up till now David has been speaking of God and his relationship to God, but now God responds to David, and David writes God's response to him. Now this is God speaking to David. God said,

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way in which thou shalt go: I will guide you with my eye ( Psalms 32:8 ).

The steps of a righteous man are order of the Lord. God said, "I will teach you and instruct you in the way that you shall go. I will guide you with My eye."

Be not as a horse, or a mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in a bit and a bridle, lest he comes near to you ( Psalms 32:9 ).

So God is saying, "Don't be like stubborn mule where you got to put a bit in its mouth in order to guide it." Now a bit is painful when you jerk on it. But the bit is put in the mouth of a mule or a horse in order that he might be led. That you might have control. So that he doesn't walk or step all over you. You put the bit in their mouth, and if they don't hearken or respond to your reign upon them, then you pull on the bit and it jerks the mouth. And it is painful, but you get the message. You are led.

Now God is saying, "Hey, I don't want to lead you that way. Don't be stubborn like a mule. Where I have to use harsh methods to lead and guide you. I want to guide you with My eye. Okay, that way, son." We are the ones that make it tough on ourselves when we rebel against God. When we won't listen to God. When we are insensitive to God, then He has to get rough. God doesn't delight in the painful processes. God didn't want to send a whale after Jonah; it was just that was the only way that He could get his attention. God doesn't want to lead you in a painful process. He doesn't want to bring painful experiences into your life in order to get your attention, in order to change your directions. So He is saying, "Look, be sensitive. You'll beat him. I will guide you in the right way. I will guide you with My eye. Don't be like a horse or a mule; you've got to put a bit into its mouth in order that you might lead so that it won't step on you and all."

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusts in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart ( Psalms 32:10-11 ).

As I said, when you are in your own reading of the psalms, it might be an interesting experience for you to, as you read, just sort of follow the exhortations. When it says, "Be glad in the Lord," just be glad in the Lord. When it says, "Rejoice," then you should rejoice. And if it says, "Shout for joy," try it sometime. Just shout for joy unto the Lord. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 32". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/psalms-32.html. 2014.
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