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 Sweet Forgiveness

Psalm 32:1-2  

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. 6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. 11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!  

This psalm of King David invites us into his times of forgiveness from God. It is the forgiveness of these sins, that bring about all the benefits and blessings the psalm describes. The Apostle Paul quoted this passage in Romans 4:7-8. But he uses the word “those” who are forgiven as contrasted with David’s “he” who is forgiven – inviting anyone who desires to find themselves in the blessings David describes. This psalm’s text paints a picture of someone overcome and overpowered by sin, yet through faith has been forgiven and is careful to give the glory to God…   Romans 4:20… yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God…” And this is because God has every reason and right to give retribution and punishment for breaking His commandments. But King David realized that God would grant undeserved favor when he confessed and repented sin. And David knew that God would do the same for anyone! The plain message of the psalm is: God’s forgiveness of sin He offers to those who confess and repent brings healing and deliverance—even in times of distress through the loving care and guidance God is faithful to provide.

Whenever and wherever sin is been forgiven by God, He replaces the sin with His righteousness. It is applied to the debt we incurred because of sin. It is the blessing from God that re-creates life as it should be for us. IMPORTANT TRUTH: If you believe righteousness is earned through good deeds, you have misunderstood the law and its work of exposing sin and wrath.

Romans 3:20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 4:15 “....for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation, because the law brings about wrath…”  

SO… God’s righteousness is given to us—unearned from good works, but purely and simply real forgiveness of sins freely given. All sin is ignored through God’s act of undeserved favor toward those who repent of their sins; even though there should be punishment and repayment. Psalms 32 makes crystal clear the biblical meaning of God’s literal forgiveness. It not only forgives our past, but it also sets us free from so many issues in life. As an example of the key meanings and nuances of this verse, We will look at some of the relational histories between Jesus and his disciple Peter.


Read again the way David describes the feeling of being forgiven in Psalms 32... 1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit, there is no deceit! And read again the way David describes the misery of unconfessed sin…   3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah”  

NOTE: David uses the word “selah” three times in this Psalm and there is disagreement among linguists about what it means exactly. But the meaning that makes the most sense to me is that it “calls for one to think, ponder, praise. Almost saying: “There! What do you think about that?”   It is like a comma, but with directions on what to do when you pause. So, as we “Selah” these first few verses, particularly 3 and 4, note that they illustrate conviction on our part.

Psalms 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” This verse illustrates confession.

Psalms 32:7 “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” This verse illustrates confidence   

Look at the progression of thought here and marvel at how David sets this up for us to easily remember: CONVICTION leads to CONFESSION, which leads to CONFIDENCE. ISN’T GOD AWESOME!!   It has been said that if you want to really know about a subject, the best thing to do is to find an expert, someone who has had a lot of experience with what you want to learn more about. Well, if anyone can help us learn more about the prevalent and personal matter of sin David can, because he, himself, was such a great sinner.

John Phillips said David was:   One of the greatest saints of Scripture One of the greatest sages of Scripture One of the greatest sovereigns of Scripture And was also one of the greatest sinners of Scripture   He sinned with a high-handed rebellion and with a depth of deception and duplicity which would astonish us, did we not know the wickedness of our own hearts.

David was a haunted man after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah. For an entire year after his sin, he told, retold a bold lie, and tried to hide it. He was miserable on the inside until finally, God sent Nathan to confront him. He was accused and condemned yet God offered forgiveness when he saw the tears of repentance flow. David first wrote Psalm 51 in which he promised he would teach transgressors God’s ways. He did so by writing Psalm 32. The Psalms are not arranged in chronological order, but instead, they are sectioned by content – like modern-day hymnals are. Psalm 32 is a Maschil Psalm or a teaching psalm from the Hebrew hymnbook. And it is from his own bitter experience that David writes us this sermon in song on:

  • The Nature of sin
  • What happens when it is concealed?
  • What happens when it is confessed?
  • When it is cleansed
  • And when it is conquered  

Augustine said, “The beginning of knowledge is to know thyself to be a sinner.”  He kept a copy of Psalm 32 over his bed and it reminded him each day of his need for God.  

Not only does Psalm 32 show us there is a delight in being forgiven by God, but it also shows us that:


David uses four words in this Psalm to describe his sin:  

Transgression is a rebellious revolt against lawful authority. It speaks of disobeying God, “You shall not commit adultery.” It is the crossing over the line. An action against God’s known law; stepping over a known boundary.

Sin means “to miss the mark or fall short.” It indicates something is missing in life. This is the falling “short of the glory of God” the apostle Paul warns the Romans about. It is a wandering from the way. An omission, the failure to attain an ideal – or to not live up to the standard God expects and equips us for.

Iniquity means “to be twisted or crooked; perverseness, bent” Psalms 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,” And in sin my mother conceived me.” Iniquity is the corruption of nature that we call “original sin.” Human nature is not straight, perfect, and true. It is a moral crookedness often associated with a conscience, intentional intent to do wrong. It speaks of the inner character of the sinner. Inherently wrong whether it violates a law  

Deceit stands for the insincerity and duplicity of human nature. An attitude that pretends that nothing is wrong. (Who did this? I do not know…but you do!) It speaks of what David did when he would not face facts honestly; he began to practice deceit and guile. He sought to hide his sins and when that failed, to pretend that nothing was wrong.

So here are the four: Transgression, Sin, Iniquity, and Deceit… these are the Highwaymen of the broken human condition. Those of us blessed by experiencing forgiveness and God’s salvation cannot be guilty by deceit; rather than pretending to be righteous, we must acknowledge our sin and the need to receive God’s cleansing. An attempt to cover our sin, or an attempt to justify our sin to others, to God… and even to ourselves. Take special note that verse 2 gives us the assurance of forgiveness when we are ones “in whose spirit is no deceit.”  So, there is a condition…God requires honest confession of our sins.

Note on This Truth: To think that we are free to continue in sin so grace may abound is thoroughly negated by God’s Word with the emphasis on sincerity at the close of verse 2. Paul reminded the Romans of this:   Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

Where God catches us - exposes us - we confess and repent. He is faithful to forgive us when we are honest. 1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Not only does Psalm 32 show us there is a delight in being forgiven, and we are confronted by our sin, but it also shows us that:      


Transgression is forgiven. To lift and carry away; to remove, bearing it. When we feel God in His mercy lift a load of our guilt from us, we know that a great weight has been lifted from our mind by God.

EXAMPLE: “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. He goes to the cross where his burden rolls from his back. At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day! (This is a familiar song to many) 

John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Forgiveness is having the burden of your sins removed by removing the sins. It is the act of removal of sin, guilt, and even the remembrance of sin. Again, it means to be lifted by God and carried away.

A great biblical example is the Scapegoat   Leviticus 16:10 “But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.”   Psalms 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”   John 1:29 [Jesus is our scapegoat] “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”   1 John 1:9 [He covers and cleanses] “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  

Sin is atoned. Covered. Hidden from God’s sight. The blemish of his sin is now out of sight. To cover means to atone for that which the sinner is reconciled. Their sin is a matter of the past and God does not bring it up anymore. A good biblical example is the sin offering.

Leviticus 16:15-16 "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.”  

Here is a glorious truth: When we cease to hide our sins God will hide them under His blood! God spares us from any punishment and then God’s righteousness is given to the sinner. An accounting expression that means the debt is paid. The bankruptcy of sin has been taken care of. It has been canceled. Debt has been paid in full by another. This speaks of God’s attitude toward the forgiven. We are justified as though we had never sinned; as though we had never owed the debt. We sing about this in the hymn It Is Well with My Soul: My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole! Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more! Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! O, my soul!

So… where does this passage intersect one account of Jesus and his disciple Peter? Peter is sinking beneath the waves and Jesus rescues him in Matthew 14… 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”   This New Testament account mirrors verses 6 and 7 in Psalms 32… 6 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. 7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

Can you feel Jesus’ arms around you in your trouble today? Watch and listen to the video link below and meditate on the ancient advice of King David. Selah!   

God’s Richest Blessings!   

Dr. H. Kenneth Smith

*Scripture references are NASB unless otherwise noted. Some material included from