A Psalm of David, Maschil

That David wrote this Psalm is confirmed not only by this heading, but by the words of the apostle Paul, in Romans 4:6-8. “6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

In the order of history, Psalm 32 seems to follow the fifty-first Psalm. Probably David’s deep repentance over his great sin against God was followed by such peace that he was led to pour out his spirit in the soft music of this song. David promised in the fifty-first Psalm to teach transgressors the Lord’s ways, and here in the thirty-second Psalm he does it most effectually through music.

Maschil is a title indicating the Psalm is a didactic or instructive Psalm. The experience of a believer can provide meaningful help to others. Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) thinks that this Psalm came to be sung on the annual Jewish Day of Atonement when a general confession of their sins was made.

     1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Though sin is covered by God’s mercy and grace, it is never covered up. Rather, sin is judged in the person of Jesus Christ so there can be forgiveness. The atonement provided by Jesus covers all of our transgressions, past, present, and future. Because of Calvary, the person who receives God’s forgiveness is a blessed person. Therefore, the mercy of God which offers Divine pardon for sin is something that is to be sought for and prized above all other possessions for experiencing God’s grace is the only sure way to happiness.

From July, 1976 to July, 1977 serial murderer David Berkowitz terrorized New York City. Known as the .44 Caliber Killer, this self-described “Son of Sam” slaughtered six people and wounded seven others. In the providence of God, Berkowitz was arrested. The murders stopped. In matchless grace, David Berkowitz came under the sound of the gospel and was converted. Today, David Berkowitz testifies to finding the grace of God. He has renounced his past believing that he was demonically influenced, if not possessed. That does not mean he was a victim for he embraced a lifestyle of hedonism and demonic influence. It does mean that where sin abounds grace does much more abound. To hear from God’s own Spirit the words, “you are absolved” is joy unspeakable. Have you heard God say that to your heart?

The state of being blessed is not ascribed in Psalm 32 to the person who has been a diligent keeper of the Law, as important as that is, for then grace could never be extended. It is to David, a lawbreaker that grace has freely been forgiven.

The self-righteous Pharisee has no portion in God’s blessedness. It is over the returning prodigal that the word of welcome is pronounced. Let the music and dancing begin. A full, instantaneous, irreversible pardon of transgression turns a person’s hell into heaven, and makes the heir of wrath a partaker in Divine blessing.

The word rendered “forgiven” is in the original Hebrew language the word for something “taken off” or “taken away”, as when a burden is lifted or a barrier removed. At Calvary our Saviour sweated blood to bear our load and lift the burden of sin from ours soul. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but what was that to the weight which Jesus bore on our behalf?

Whose sin is covered.

As our transgression, or rebellion is forgiven, so our sins are covered by God, as the Ark was covered by the mercy seat, as Noah was covered from the flood, and as the Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover must that be which hides away forever from the sight of the all-seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity, will appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever.

Christ’s atonement is the propitiation, the satisfaction, the covering, the making an end of sin.

When this truth is comprehended and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now and forever accepted in the Beloved. The heart can enjoy a conscious blessedness which is the state of heaven itself.

It is clear from the text that every person may know that they are pardoned. Where would be the blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly forgiveness of sin and assurance of salvation is a matter of knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort for the believer.

     2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight! Notice the three words so often used to denote our disobedience: transgression, meaning to rebel. Sin, meaning to miss the mark. Iniquity, a reference to general depravity. These are the three heads of the dog at the gates of hell, but our glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own believing ones. The Trinity of Sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven.

There are theologians who, for some reason, rage against the doctrine of the imputed righteousness being charged to the account of sinners. Still, the words of Scripture remain true and precious. Every person is blessed who has a Substitute to stand for him and to whose account all debts may be set down. And, blessed is the person

In whose spirit there is no guile.

The word guile speaks of deceit. Deceit can take two forms. There is self-deception. Individuals deceive themselves and believe they are safe before God. They are not and shall soon be sorry. There is hypocrisy whereby a person knows they are not what they claim to be, but do not care. Life is compartmentalized so that the conscience is not alarmed. Guilt and shame are easily dismissed. Self-deception and hypocrisy bring no blessedness, even though these twin anchors may sink the ship of the soul and plunge it into hell with pleasant dreams. Blessed is the person who is free from guilt, free from guile.

The best way to ensure freedom from guile or deceit to be a doer of the Word, and not just a hearer.

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