The reason that we love the Psalms when going through difficult times is because they speak into our hearts. The experiences of the psalmists are highly relatable as we are able to see how they looked at life and looked at God. In Psalm 31 we looked at the faithful, steadfast love of God that carries us through life difficulties. But what do you do when your suffering is self-inflicted? What do you do when it is your own sinning that has caused your life problems? David addresses this in Psalm 32.
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. (Psalm 32:1–2 ESV)
David simply begins with our greatest blessing. Blessed is the person whose sins are covered. This declaration is so important that the apostle Paul quotes this in Romans 4:7-8. This declaration is our greatest hope for our salvation. But we need to continue in the psalm to see the explanation for this wonderful proclamation of God’s grace. Listen to what he says in the following verses.
When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3–5 CSB)
Do you hear the pain in David’s words? His bones are wasting away. His strength is dried up. God’s hand feels heavy on him. The pain and the consequences of his sins weigh heavy on him. I believe everyone can connect with what David is saying. Who has not felt the extreme guilt from sin? Who has not experienced painful consequences because of sin? But what David says is particularly interesting. It sounds like the Lord was pressing on him day and night because he had not confessed his sin to God. But when David turned to the Lord, forgiveness was found. Guilt and the emotions of our conscience are not bad things. They can be used to make us aware of our sinning and draw us closer to God.
David expresses something that we are all tempted to do. When we sin, we try to hide our sin. We can be tempted to cover up our sins and not immediately confess our sins. So God is pressing upon David until David finally responds with confession. Why do we try to hide our sins from God? Adam and Eve attempted to do the same thing. First, Adam and Eve tried to hide from the presence of the Lord. Then Adam and Eve blamed others rather than openly admitting responsibility for their own sins. But why would we think we could cover up our sins? Obviously God knows what we have done. So David writes this psalm to convince us of our need for confessing our sins to God. We need to run to God when we sin. Listen to the three offers God gives to those who will come to him with their sins.
God Be Your Hiding Place (32:6-7)
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. (Psalm 32:6–7 ESV)
David begins by calling on the godly to pray to the Lord while he can be found. The picture given is that there will be a time when you are swallowed from the rush of great waters. Run to the Lord for safety. Sins so easily sweep us away from the Lord. My father always told me that sins are like potato chips: you can’t eat just one. The practice of sin sears our conscience to no longer have guilt for our actions or a regard for God’s ways. Run to the Lord immediately after sinning so that you are not swept away in the judgment. God will be the rescue you need if you sincerely confess your sins to him.
God Will Teach You How To Go (32:8-9)
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. (Psalm 32:8–9 ESV)
Second, if you will come to the Lord will teach you the way you should go. God is always trying to tell that he is the light and will teach you the way to go in your life. Unfortunately, we can be stubborn just as David warns against. God’s word is given to us so that we can go the right direction in life now, keeping ourselves from so many pains that we inflict on ourselves from our sinful decisions. God’s laws are for our good, just as a parent’s rules are for the child’s well-being.
God Will Surround You With Steadfast Love (32:10-11)
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! (Psalm 32:10–11 ESV)
Finally, if you will come to the Lord, you will receive God’s steadfast love. Think about how many times God tries to show us that he will receive us if we will come to him with our sins. The parable of lost things shows our Lord seeking the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. He is even looking longingly for our return. God is ready to rejoice when you come back to him. According to David, trusting in the Lord is shown when we quickly come to the Lord, confessing our sins.
Our greatest hope are the words at the beginning of this psalm. David does not say that the blessed person is the one who is sinless. No, the blessed person is the one whose sins are forgiven. Turn to the Lord, acknowledge your sins, and listen to God’s teaching and you will also be blessed and counted as righteous (cf. Romans 4:7-8). Run to God when you sin and you will find refuge, teaching, and steadfast love.