The happiness of a pardoned sinner. (1,2) The misery that went before, and the comfort that followed the confession of sins. (3-7) Sinners instructed, believers encouraged. (8-11)
Verses 1-2 Sin is the cause of our misery; but the true believer's transgressions of the Divine law are all forgiven, being covered with the atonement. Christ bare his sins, therefore they are not imputed to him. The righteousness of Christ being reckoned to us, and we being made the righteousness of God in him, our iniquity is not imputed, God having laid upon him the iniquity of us all, and made him a sin-offering for us. Not to impute sin, is God's act, for he is the Judge. It is God that justifies. Notice the character of him whose sins are pardoned; he is sincere, and seeks sanctification by the power of the Holy Ghost. He does not profess to repent, with an intention to indulge in sin, because the Lord is ready to forgive. He will not abuse the doctrine of free grace. And to the man whose iniquity is forgiven, all manner of blessings are promised.
Verses 3-7 It is very difficult to bring sinful man humbly to accept free mercy, with a full confession of his sins and self-condemnation. But the true and only way to peace of conscience, is, to confess our sins, that they may be forgiven; to declare them that we may be justified. Although repentance and confession do not merit the pardon of transgression, they are needful to the real enjoyment of forgiving mercy. And what tongue can tell the happiness of that hour, when the soul, oppressed by sin, is enabled freely to pour forth its sorrows before God, and to take hold of his covenanted mercy in Christ Jesus! Those that would speed in prayer, must seek the Lord, when, by his providence, he calls them to seek him, and, by his Spirit, stirs them up to seek him. In a time of finding, when the heart is softened with grief, and burdened with guilt; when all human refuge fails; when no rest can be found to the troubled mind, then it is that God applies the healing balm by his Spirit.
Verses 8-11 God teaches by his word, and guides with the secret intimations of his will. David gives a word of caution to sinners. The reason for this caution is, that the way of sin will certainly end in sorrow. Here is a word of comfort to saints. They may see that a life of communion with God is far the most pleasant and comfortable. Let us rejoice, O Lord Jesus, in thee, and in thy salvation; so shall we rejoice indeed.
Psalms 32:1-11 . Maschil--literally, "A Psalm of David giving instruction." The Psalmist describes the blessings of His forgiveness, succeeding the pains of conviction, and deduces from his own experience instruction and exhortation to others.
1, 2. (Compare Romans 4:6 ).
forgiven--literally, "taken away," opposed to retain ( John 20:23 ).
covered--so that God no longer regards the sin ( Psalms 85:3 ).
2. imputeth--charge to him, and treat him accordingly.
no guile--or, deceit, no false estimate of himself, nor insincerity before God (compare Romans 8:1 ).
3, 4. A vivid description of felt, but unacknowledged, sin.
When--literally, "for," as in Psalms 32:4 .
4. thy hand--of God, or power in distressing him ( Psalms 38:2 ).
moisture--vital juices of the body, the parching heat of which expresses the anguish of the soul. On the other figures, compare Psalms 6:2 Psalms 6:7 , 31:9-11 . If composed on the occasion of the fifty-first Psalm, this distress may have been protracted for several months.
5. A prompt fulfilment of the purposed confession is followed by a prompt forgiveness.
6. For this--that is, my happy experience.
godly--pious in the sense of Psalms 4:3 .
a time--( Isaiah 55:6 ); when God's Spirit inclines us to seek pardon, He is ready to forgive.
floods, &c.--denotes great danger ( Psalms 18:17 , 66:12 ).
7. His experience illustrates the statement of Psalms 32:6 .
8. Whether, as most likely, the language of David (compare Psalms 51:13 ), or that of God, this is a promise of divine guidance.
I will . . . mine eye--or, My eye shall be on thee, watching and directing thy way.
9. The latter clause, more literally, "in that they come not near thee"; that is, because they will not come, &c., unless forced by bit and bridle.
10. The sorrows of the impenitent contrasted with the peace and safety secured by God's mercy.
11. The righteous and upright, or those conforming to the divine teaching for securing the divine blessing, may well rejoice with shouting.