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Psalm 32

The Joy of Forgiveness

Of David. A Maskil.


Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.


Happy are those to whom the L ord imputes no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.



While I kept silence, my body 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. Selah



Then I acknowledged my sin to you,

and I did not hide my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the L ord,”

and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah



Therefore let all who are faithful

offer prayer to you;

at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters

shall not reach them.


You are a hiding place for me;

you preserve me from trouble;

you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah



I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;

I will counsel you with my eye upon you.


Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,

whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,

else it will not stay near you.



Many are the torments of the wicked,

but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the L ord.


Be glad in the L ord and rejoice, O righteous,

and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

6. Therefore shall every one that is meek pray unto thee. Here the Psalmist expressly states that whatever he has hitherto set forth in his own person belongs in common to all the children of God. And this is to be carefully observed, because, from our native unbelief, the greater part of us are slow and reluctant to appropriate the grace of God. We may also learn from this, that David obtained forgiveness, not by the mere act of confession, as some speak, but by faith and prayer. Here he directs believers to the same means of obtaining it, bidding them betake themselves to prayer, which is the true sacrifice of faith. Farther, we are taught, that in David God gave an example of his mercy, which may not only extend to us all, but may also show us how reconciliation is to be sought. The words, every one, serve for the confirmation of every godly person; but the Psalmist at the same time shows, that no one can obtain the hope of salvation but by prostrating himself as a suppliant before God, because all without exception stand in need of his mercy.

The expression, The time of finding, which immediately follows, some think, refers to the ordinary and accustomed hours of prayer; but others more accurately, in my opinion, compare it 664664     In the Septuagint version it is rendered, “In the time of finding favor;” in the Arabic, “In a time of hearing;” and in the Syriac, “In an acceptable time.” with that place in Isaiah, (Isaiah 55:6,) where it is said, “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” It is never out of season, indeed, to seek God, for every moment we need his grace, and he is always willing to meet us. But as slothfulness or dullness hinders us from seeking him, David here particularly intimates the critical seasons when believers are stimulated by a sense of their own need to have recourse to God. The Papists have abused this place to warrant their doctrine, that we ought to have advocates in heaven to pray for us; 665665     “Qu’ils nous faut avoir des advocats au ciel qui prient pour nous.” — Fr. but the attempt to found an argument in support of such a doctrine from this passage is so grossly absurd that it is unworthy of refutation. We may see from it, however, either how wickedly they have corrupted the whole Scripture, or with what gross ignorance they blunder in the plainest matters.

In the flood of many waters. This expression agrees with that prophecy of Joel,

“Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord, shall be delivered.” (Joel 2:32)

The meaning is, that although the deep whirlpools of death may compass us round on every side, we ought not to fear that they shall swallow us up; but rather believe that we shall be safe and unhurt, if we only betake ourselves to the mercy of God. We are thus emphatically taught that the godly shall have certain salvation even in death, provided they betake themselves to the sanctuary of God’s grace. Under the term flood are denoted all those dangers from which there appears no means of escape.

At last the Psalmist gives himself to thanksgiving, and although he uses but few words to celebrate the divine favor, there is, notwithstanding, much force in his brevity. In the first place, he denies that there is any other haven of safety but in God himself. Secondly, he assures himself that God will be his faithful keeper hereafter; for I willingly retain the future tense of the verb, though some, without any reason, translate it into the past. He is not, however, to be understood as meaning that he conceived himself safe from future tribulations, but he sets God’s guardianship over against them. Lastly, whatever adversity may befall him, he is persuaded that God will be his deliverer. By the word compass, he means manifold and various kinds of deliverance; as if he had said, that he should be under obligation to God in innumerable ways, and that he should, on every side, have most abundant matter for praising him. We may observe in the meantime, how he offers his service of gratitude to God, according to his usual method, putting songs of deliverance instead of help.

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