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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 32

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-11

Psalms 32:1-11. Maschil. This title seems to imply, that the Psalm contains peculiarly important instruction : and indeed it teaches the way by which miserable sinners become happy, and the nature and effects of true repentance. Twelve other psalms have the same title, the subjects of which are various ; but all replete with instruction. Some have thought, that the word maschil shewed the musick to which the psalm was set ; but this is by no means satisfactory. This is one of the seven penitential psalms : and though the special occasion of it is not mentioned, it is generally supposed to refer to David’s sin in the matter of Uriah, and his subsequent repentance. It seems to have been written some time after the fifty-first, and when God had " restored to him the joy of his salvation." (Note, Psalms 51:12-13.)

V. 1, 2. (Note, Psalms 1:1-3.) Sin is the only cause of misery ; and forgiveness is the commencement of a sinner’s happiness : as he that had obtained the king’s pardon would be allowed to be the happiest, even though the poorest, in a company of condemned malefactors. The believer’s transgressions of the divine law are all forgiven, being covered with the atonement. Christ bare his iniquities , and therefore they are not imputed to the believer, as to any of their penal consequences : nay, " righteousness without works " is imputed, and as a righteous person, the reward is adjudged to him : hence all his present comforts, and hopes of future felicity. (Notes, Romans 4:4-8.) But his character, as well as his privilege, is emphatically marked : " in his spirit there is no guile." His professed repentance, faith, and love are undissembled : lie means ail that his words express, when he humbly confesses his sins and earnestly prays to be delivered from them.

He is no hypocrite or formalist in his worship ; but is indeed the same before God as he appears to be before men ; a sinner trusting in his mercy through the atoning blood, and seeking sanctification by the power of the Holy Spirit. He does not profess to repent, with intention to sin again ; nor does lie indulge in sin because God is ready to forgive. Others will thus abuse the doctrine of free grace ; but he cannot : he is " an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no " guile."

(Notes, John 1:47-51. 1 Peter 2:1-3. Revelation 14:1-5.) ’ Happy is that man, thrice happy, to whom ’ God will be pleased, out of his own free grace and mercy, ’ (for no man can merit such a favour by any services that 1 we can do him,) to remit, not only his common errors, ’ . . . but also his grosser sins. . . . Who doth not only ’ seem, by his sorrowful confessions to hate and abhor ’ them ; but is unfeignedly resolved to forsake them.’ Up. Patrick.

V. 3- 5. It seems that David, before Nathan came to him, had often been exceedingly tortured in his conscience, on account of the atrocious crimes which he had committed; (Notes, 2 Samuel 11:27; 2 Samuel 12:1-6;) yet reluctance to humble himself before God, or to be considered as a criminal by men, led him to " keep silence," or only to give vent to his anguish by solitary be moanings, ’ roaring as a ’ lion which has received a deadly wound;’ and endeavoring, no doubt at the same time, by one sophistical excuse or other, to palliate his guilt to himself, and to be on better terms with his conscience. But this stubborn and rebellious conduct served only to prolong and enhance his misery. His secret remorse and conflict, not only preyed on his spirit, but impaired his health, and rendered him infirm in his bones or limbs, as through old age. Neither business nor pleasure during the day, nor his couch by night, could relieve his inward anguish; which was rendered more exquisite by the pains taken to conceal it. Thus the hand of God was " heavy upon him :" (Marg. Ref. 1: :) and it is probable, some additional distressing malady was superadded to the natural effects of his inward conflicts ; so that he, who was before vigorous and healthy, wasted away, till he resembled the parched land in the drought of summer. (Notes, Psalms 30:1-2. Psalms 38:1-10. Psalms 12:1-8.) But at length, being brought to a more proper frame of mind, he resolved humbly to submit himself to God ; and to make full and ingenuous confession of his aggravated crimes, without attempting any excuse, or palliation. Having done this, the " iniquity," or injustice, of his sin was pardoned, his burden was speedily removed, and at length his comforts were restored ; and he recorded these things with a mark of peculiar emphasis, Selah, that others might profit by his painful and by his joyful experience

(Notes, Jeremiah 31:18-20. Luke 15:13-24. 1 John 1:8-10.)

Hid. (5) covered: 1. Job 31:33. Proverbs 28:13. The impenitent covers his sin, in vain ; but God covers the sin of the penitent believer, effectually.

V. 6, 7 The word rendered " godly" is frequently translated " a saint," and seems to mean one whom God favours. All that fear him, and in humble submission desire his mercy, shew so far that right state of heart which springs froin special grace : and such persons, hearing how readily God forgave the heinous guilt of David, when he was brought to ingenuous confession and deep repentance ; would be encouraged to copy his example, and learn to pray in faith and hope, " in a time when God " might be found." While his word is brought home to the conscience, and the Holy Spirit strives with the sinner, by painful convictions and terrors, or draws him to hope for mercy ; it is especially " a time of finding," (marg.) " an acceptable time," " a day of visitation," a critical season in his experience. In some respects, this life is a " time of finding," except to such as are judicially hardened : but in another world, God will no more be found on a mercy-seat, waiting to be gracious ; but as an avenging Judge to all the impenitent. (Notes.) They however, who, as David supposed, might by his example be animated to seize the invaluable opportunity, would be received into favour ; and, secure of protection, (like Noah in the ark, during the deluge,) could be approached by no overwhelming troubles, temptations, or enemies ; or by those judgments and that vengeance, which overtook the wicked and hurried them into destruction. (Notes, Matthew 7:24-27 - Luke 6:46-49.) In this happiness the Psalmist rejoiced : and he daily received so many mercies, which lie celebrated with songs of deliverance, that he was wholly compassed about with them.

V. 8- 11. David, in the name of God, here offered to instruct those who would regard him ; and, by his experience and attention, to shew them the way of happiness ; keeping his eye still upon them and counseling them. Or, the Lord himself, by his prophet, promises to be the Teacher and watchful Guide of all, who desire to walk in his ways. Some understand it, as the word of God to David, inducing him to repentance. When horses or mules prove refractory and mischievous, force and skill are used to subdue and restrain them : and they are exposed to much severe discipline, to render them tractable, and to prevent them from doing mischief, instead of service, to their possessors. Thus obstinate sinners, in as irrational a manner, render sharp usage necessary, either to preserve them from ruin, or to restrain them from injuring others. So that their sorrows are multiplied, as the deliverances and praises of the righteous are enhanced.


All men , be happy : but they vainly expect that riches, pleasures, and worldly honours can confer satisfaction ; and when disappointed, they change one vanity for another : so that he, and he alone, who attends to the word of God, seeks felicity successfully. His mercy, through the great Redeemer, revealed in the scriptures, brings the first report of the sinner’s happiness ; faith receives this report, renounces worldly idols and false confidences, and seeks forgiveness and righteousness in the Saviour’s name. But pride and stoutness of heart ; aversion to God and his holy character and spiritual worship ; and unbelief, either absolutely, or to a considerable degree, prevailing in the heart ; keep back from unreserved submission, ingenuous confession, and fervent prayer, numbers who are deeply distressed with a sense of guilt. They " keep silence," and brood in secret over their terrors and sorrows, which they endeavour to conceal under an assumed and hypocritical cheerfulness : while in solitude they feel, and sometimes mourn over, their misery, with horror and remorse, in the most doleful lamentations and fruitless wishes. In this way many are at length driven to despair and suicide : but far more seek relief from a condemning conscience, by having recourse to infidelity, or some corrupt system, which excuses or explains away the evil of sin ; and so enables them to keep up a delusive hope of being happy, or at least of escaping misery, without " repentance and works meet for repentance." When, however, God is pleased to visit the soul with his special grace, he sends his word, not only by a Nathan to the outward ear, with " Thou art the man ; " but by his Holy Spirit to tlur: inmost soul :

(Note, 2 Samuel 12:7:) and then godly sorrow, unfeigned submission, ingenuous confessions, and believing prayers for mercy and forgiveness through the atoning blood of Christ, soon make way for hope, and peace, and joy: and the justified believer tastes a happiness, of which before he had no conception; while he expatiates in praise of his present consolations, as contrasted with his preceding anguish, in a strain not unlike the encomiums on health of one recovering from a dangerous disease. Now he would have all his fellow sinners hear of his happiness, that they may come and share it ; and therefore he freely declares his own sentiments and experiences for their instruction : and his character is equally distant from that of the self-confident Pharisee, and the licentious Antinomian. Yet even this man may relax his vigilance, and fall into grievous sins, nay, be led to " keep silence," in the same perverse and foolish manner, as he did before : so deceitful is the heart of man, and so powerful the influence of temptation operating on human depravity ! But lengthened and multiplied miseries here, or eternal ruin hereafter, must be the inevitable consequence of this mad contest of a helpless worm against Omnipotence. Our God is indeed far more ready to forgive, than we are humbly to seek his mercy : but he will continue to frown, to rebuke, and to correct, till his children kiss the rod, confess their sins, and implore forgiveness. Then he will rejoice in pardoning and comforting them ; that they may feel, and so declare to others, the difference between a humble and an unhumbled frame of mind. His " goodness " should " lead men to repentance : " but this is not the case in general ; for numbers despise the riches of his mercy ; and even his offending children are often kept from humble prayer, by unbelieving discouragements But the examples of those who have found mercy again excite their hopes. Then they pray, and the Lord hears from his mercy- seat : and they will be safe from the floods of vengeance, which await those who will not " seek the " LORD while he may be found." All who come to him in this way, shall be preserved from their enemies, and rescued from their troubles ; and their tears of godly sorrow shall be turned into abundant songs of joyful praise Having tasted the bitterness of sin, and the comfort of forgiveness, they can warn and instruct their fellow sinners, and teach them by their experience : and the Lord himself will guide with his eye every humble penitent. But, with his powerful hand he will restrain, and with his " heavy " hand" he will punish, the obstinate and refractory while all the sorrows, which can be endured on earth, are as nothing, compared with the misery of the wicked in the world to come. Happy then are they, who trust in the Lord, and uprightly walk with him : mercy surrounds them, and joy is their portion ; the ways, in which they are culled to walk, are ways of pleasantness and peace and the end is eternal life. " This is the heritage of the " servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me " saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17.)

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 32". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-32.html. 1804.
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