A Maskil of David.
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
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
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.
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!
As we can see by the title, this psalm was written by King David. It is clearly a psalm of repentance, and it would be easy to connect this psalm with Psalm 51, which David wrote after he committed adultery with Bathsheba. But there really is no textual reason to connect this psalm to that incident. The reason why I mention this is because we often think immediately of David’s big sin. But I want to remind you that David was like us. He sinned in spectacular and public ways, and he sinned in smaller, more mundane ways. And all of these sins he had to repent of.
So while Psalm 51 reads more as a prayer of deep repentance in the moment of crisis, Psalm 32 has a more instructional feel, as if David is remembering the forgiveness he has received from the Lord and now seeking to instruct all of Israel in the act of repentance.
David begins this psalm with a proclamation, “Blessed is the one who 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.”
Consider this for a moment: What does it mean to be blessed? What is a true blessing from God? Most often, our thoughts go to tangible gifts. You want a healthy body so that you’re not in pain. You want a happy marriage and obedient children so that those relationships are peaceful and your home is a place full of joy. You want financial stability and prosperity, so that you don’t stress about bills and can even go on vacation. The list goes on and on, and these are true blessings. These are the types of things we pray for, and that we should continue to pray for.
But something ultimate is missing in that list. Something more foundational. In verses 1 and 2, David speaks of the best blessing. He says, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity…”
Your fundamental need in this life, and for all eternity, is for your transgressions to be forgiven by God. Sin needs to be covered. And the question is how? This is what I want to answer tonight by looking at this psalm.
Let’s focus in on the idea of covering. All sin gets covered. The question is who is doing the covering—you or God. Go back to the first sin in the Garden and not only is it being covered by Adam, he has a whole wardrobe of covering on, head to toe. He’s ready for an Idaho winter to hit Eden. He first begins with fig leaves and then seeks to hide from God in among the trees in the woods. Next thing you know he’s covering his sin with that woman, “it was her fault – she started it!” and then ultimately his last layer of cover is to blame God Himself, since He is the one whogave Adam the woman.
David does the same thing with Bathsheba. He covers his sin with lies and deceit, desperately trying to get Uriah to have sex with Bathsheba so that the fruit of his sin, her pregnancy, would not be suspicious. When this doesn’t work he covers his sin with blood—the blood of a battle-slain Uriah.
And we do this ourselves. We realize we have sinned, and we reach out our hands for the closest thing that can manage to cover it. We might deny it was a sin altogether, because, you know, we all make mistakes. Or we might seek to excuse the sin saying, “Well I wouldn’t have been angry if you didn’t make me upset.” Or when we go to God to repent, we fail to call the sin what it is and opt to keep our prayers a bit more general, because if God knew what we had really done, oh boy, I’m not sure if he’d want to forgive that one.
All sin gets covered, and when we do this ourselves we will begin to feel the weight. We see in verses 3 and 4 the result of this cover up, “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.”
This is the picture of a man experiencing the inner violence of guilt and shame—the fruit of sin. To keep silent is to not confess. But when we bottle up guilt deep down in our hearts, and attempt to cover our sin up, we begin to wither away. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, and all your strength leaves. You want to run from the presence of God but are paralyzed with terror. You want to rationalize all your sin but your mind won’t stop racing. You’re consumed with worry and distress, and there seems to be no end in sight.
And it is in these moments when you are faced with the ultimate reality of God, and His holiness, and the ultimate reality of man, and our utter depravity. It is here where your delusions of self-righteousness crumble, and you have an opportunity to see more clearly.
This might sound odd, but what a mercy it is to have the hand of God heavy upon you! To find God afflicting you, and not just giving you up to your sin for all eternity! In the moment it feels like God is trying to kill you… and He is! But His purpose is far greater than just that, and He will not leave you dead. He’s killing the old man, He’s burying you with Christ, so that you may be united with Him in His resurrection.
But how does this happen? How do you get from groaning all day long in verse 3 to shouting for joy in verse 11?
We find the answer to this in verse 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.”
David said when he was silent, he wasted away. But when he did notcover his iniquity and instead acknowledged his sin by confessing His transgressions to the Lord, the Lord forgave him of his iniquity. And as we see in verse 1, the forgiveness of transgressions comes with the covering of sins, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” It is only through confession and receiving forgiveness from God that we find a true covering.
David says that the man in whose spirit is no deceit is blessed. In confession, we end all attempts at deception. We reject all excuses and lies. And we cease to seek to deceive God, as if that was possible in the first place. When you consider the absurdity of deceiving God, the one who knows all things, confession looks a lot like becoming rational.
When the Lord’s hand is upon us because of our sin, it is foolish to run and hide. He is God!
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me” (Psalm 134).
When His hand is heavy upon you, you must turn to him. David warns in verse 6, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found.” Because “surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.”
You must be quick to repent. If you wait until destructions descends, whether it is temporal or eternal, you cannot be sure that in the chaos your prayers will reach God, or if you will even have the mind to pray at all.
It is only because of God’s patient mercy that He deals with us, that He holds off the great rush of waters. Because when they come, when He lets go, when it all falls apart around you, you have nothing in you that will cause you to reach out to God. He won’t be found.
This is why repentance is a gift. It is “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Your repentance and confession are not the cause of obtaining grace—but they are the God-ordained means, in Christ and by faith.
We are all sinners in this room. And it is where we seek cover for our sin that determines if we are blessed. The man who is blessed, the man who is happy, has forgiveness from God. The man who is blessed recognizes that he is not righteous in himself, and he knows what to do about it. In verse 7 we see that God is his hiding place in times of trouble. Instead of seeking to hide from God, the man who confesses his sin is able to hide within God! The blessed man is glad in the Lord, is surrounded with shout of deliverance and rejoices with joy at his salvation.
But the wicked man is silent… except for his groaning. David says in verse 10 that the wicked have many sorrows—that is what they are surrounded with. If Psalm 32 was a house with rooms, they live their existence in the verses 3-4 room, which is located in the unfinished basement. And it is there that they will wither away, while the righteous rejoice upstairs in the verse 11 living room. For “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13).
If you want to be blessed, if you want fellowship with God, confess your sins. Be like the prodigal son who arises from the absolute mess that he had made and says, “I will go to my father and I will say to him, ‘I have sinned against heaven and before you.’”
Do this, because He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Get your sin hidden. Find blessing in the blood of Christ.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.