Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 32

Posted on: August 17th, 2014

In many of David’s psalms can be seen the deep anguish that he felt as he wrestled with the problems and trials of life. One reason that the psalms are so precious is that they address the entire spectrum of human emotions and pain. Any person of any age can find comfort, because it’s clear that David, and the other psalmists, had “been there” and could understand. There is comfort in knowing that someone has traveled a hard path first and made it. Added to that is the inspiration behind his words. Without that certainty, David’s words would have been no more useful than the hundreds of “self-help” books that can be found in stores today.

But in contrast, Psalm 32 can only be described as a psalm of thanksgiving. In fact, “thanksgiving” is not strong enough! A better term would be “JOYOUS!” The reason for David’s joy was his understanding that the Lord had pardoned his sin. To know that sins are forgiven is indeed a time to rejoice. David begins his psalm by stating, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!  How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” One man wrote that the New Testament scriptures are a commentary of Psalm 32; and in a very real sense, that is true.

Christians today have an assurance of forgiveness that David could only know through hints in the Old Testament scriptures, and through his own strong trust in the Lord. Today, Christians do live by faith and not by sight, but that faith is based upon a greater revealing of God’s plan. Paul Christ and the “Good News” that in Him can be found the hope of eternal life. Consider this. If David could feel and express his joy over pardoned sins based upon what he knew about God’s plan, how much more should Christians today be able to rejoice!

As David considered his joy, his thoughts turned back to his state before he felt the release of God’s forgiveness. “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 sapped as in heat of summer.” Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone. Most people can remember doing something wrong as a child and feeling the weight of guilt and dread as they wondered when their parents would find out.

That same weight exists for those with unforgiven sin. In many cases, the origin of depression is real, or imagined, guilt. David had experienced that, but then the weight was suddenly removed! How many people have said, “I’m glad that’s over!”, or “I feel like a big weight has been removed!” In Christ, the weight of sin is removed, and the child of God begins to walk the path that leads to spiritual maturity, and even greater blessings.

In verse 6, David wrote, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.” Christians are expected to search, to reach out to the Lord. It just makes sense. If a person truly loves the Lord, and entrusts his/her life to Him, then the automatic reaction to anything in life is to turn to God. And God will answer. How many storms and floods of life have been avoided, because of the Lord?

In verse 7, David looked at what the Lord had given him from another direction. “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble…” As he faced the trials in his life, David instinctively turned to the Lord for help and a place of refuge. Oh, how God’s children need to remember that lesson today! Too often the Lord is the last place that people will turn to when facing trials. But Christians do have a special “hiding place”, and that place, just like David, is the Lord.

When Jesus said that Christians are to become as little children, that included the instinctive unconditional trust in the ability of God the Father to protect His children. Most adults can remember when they had a special “hiding place” as a child. That place may have been found in the imagination of the child, or more often in the arms of that child’s mother or father. How many times have we smiled at a little boy or girl who has seen something scary, and immediately turns around and heads for Momma or Daddy? Then from the place of safety that child peers around Mommy or Daddy’s legs. That is the type of attitude that Christians can have – the feeling of never being alone and knowing that the Father is always there.

In verse 8, God Himself is speaking, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.” God gave every grown man and woman the intelligence to listen, consider, and decide on actions that will be taken in life. Willful ignorance is no excuse before the law, and it is certainly no excuse before the Eternal God.

Skeptics question the value of the Bible. They point to Christians who still have to deal with tragedy and other trials of life. But the key is that no one knows what hardship has been missed, what suffering has been avoided, due to the Lord’s direction. “Many are the sorrows of the wicked…” Outward trappings of success have never been a guarantee of inward peace, contentment, confidence, and trust. The path of life is strewn with traps that will snare the naïve, the unbelieving, and the rebellious.

But as Christians, we will never grow strong or overcome trials by ourselves. Our strength comes directly from God. David recognized that, and he ended his song of joy with, “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart.” Yes. Christians should echo that today, because in Christ, God has showered down upon His children blessings that are infinite in number. God wants us to pray to Him in time of need, but Psalm 32 also reminds us that prayers of rejoicing and “Thank you” are also very much in order.

Jim Shelburn