Psalm Thirty-Two is the post-forgiveness psalm. It is the joyful expression of the heart of David after he had been forgiven and restored to fellowship with God following his grievous sin with Bathsheba. In the penitential fifty-first psalm, David has prayed for forgiveness and promises that when he is restored he will teach transgressors Godís ways and "transgressors will be converted unto Thee." In this thirty-second song, a Maschil psalm giving instruction, David is fulfilling the vow he had made. Whereas in the fifty-first psalm he prays for forgiveness to be granted, in this psalm he praises God for the forgiveness he has received. Is your Bible open before you as we search for the instruction David proffers to those who would hear this song of forgiveness sung? There are three parts to the psalm.
David is Cleansed (32:1-5)
In the early part of the Psalm, David expresses the pain that was in his soul during the months after he had sinned and prior to his confession of that sin. This pain may not have been limited to the inner sufferings of his soul as expressed in the words, "Day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me." There may have also been physical pain as he says, "My bones waxed old." After a period of about a year of mental anguish, and precipitated by the parable of Nathan, David says, "I acknowledged my sin and mine iniquity have I not covered" (2 Samuel 12:13). He experiences the joy of forgiveness in the words, "Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." Now he can sing, "O, the happinesses of him whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."
Davidís sin could have been prevented. As a king he was expected to write for himself a copy of the Book of the Law. His own personal copy was to be with him and he was to read therein all the days of his life. If David had followed the injunction he would have been warned not to multiply wives to himself that his heart turn not away. (Deuteronomy 17:16-19) The Book was not with him! Later he could truthfully have written in the flyleaf of his own copy of Godís Word, "This Book will keep you from sin; sin will keep you from this Book." He fell into sin! The consequences of his sin were felt for years.
David is Comforted (32:6-7)
David had gone through the floods of great waters. The floods were of his own making. Nevertheless, he knew that "the floods would not come nigh unto him." He had found in the God to Whom he made confession, a place of refuge. He likens God to the City of Refuge, the place of safety that could be accessed only on the confession of having killed a man unwittingly and unawares. David saw in his God a grace that went beyond the City of Refuge for he had killed Uriah deliberately and deceitfully. In this place of comfort and safety, instead of breathing the sighs of the sorrowing, he is compassed about with songs of deliverance. Isnít it marvelous to know that David realized that in spite of the grievous character of his sin, there was forgiveness with God?
David is Controlled (32:8-11)
While Psalm 51 reveals the contrition of the one who has sinned against God and is desiring the way back to God, Psalm 32 gives us a view of the changes in the attitude of the one who is exulting in the truth of forgiveness and who now is writing, giving instruction to others on the way back to God. David is seen here submitting to the will of the Lord and being so close to the Lord that God could counsel him with His eye.
He had previously taken the path of the rebellious and had despised the commandment of the Lord. Now he was restored and was promised, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go: I will counsel thee with mine eye." He was to be sensitive to every movement of the open eye of the Master. He was not to display the self-will of the horse nor the stubbornness of the mule, both of which characteristics were inconsistent with the life of the restored believer. The outward restraints of bit and bridle were to be replaced by the inward constraint of love even as Paul could say in a later dispensation, "The love of Christ constraineth (hems in) us." (2 Corinthians 5:14) He had learned experientially the sorrows of the lawless and wanted now to hear again the songs of the upright in heart.
Can we likewise hear the call back to God? Cleansing is waiting from a gracious Heavenly Father, Who in spite of our wanderings will comfort us. Can we then, following the cleansing and the comforting, submit to His loving control and know the assurance of being guided by his eye?