Reflection on Psalm 32
Psalm 32 achieves no mean feat by alerting us—dramatically—to the seriousness of sin. Even though it is, in fact, the least aspect of the problem of sin, the psalm underlines the personal pity of it all. Sin burdens, diminishes and blights the life of the sinner (verses 3—4). It may not be felt but in fact it is like carrying around a sack of sand. Proverbs 7:23 says sexual promiscuity is the equivalent of being shot in the liver by an arrow! Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:18 teaches that the adulterer sins against his own body! Not, we might say, the common view, but exactly what Psalm 32 implies about David’s ‘roaring.’
Then at a deeper level is the alienation and hostility of God, whose hand goes out heavily against the sinner. We need to take this on board. David is writing as a believer and of a believer’s sins. The hurt done to our holy God alienates him, grieves his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), and leaves us diminished —vitality turned to aridity. “Flee youthful lusts” counsels Paul (2 Timothy 2:22); “follow righteousness.”
What a relief, then, to note the miracle (no less) of repentance (Psalm 32:5). The sheer simplicity of it! “I let you know… you forgave.” Yes, even though he alone knows “the iniquity of my sin”—“my sin in iniquity!” See the same thought in Psalm 51:1-3—and the very incident recorded in 2 Samuel 12:13 (David said to Nathan, “I have sinner against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.”). This simplicity of dealing with sin by repentance is made possible by substitution.
The principle of one standing in the place of another — substitution — goes back at least as far as Abraham: recall how, without instruction, he knew he could kill the ram “in the place of his son” (Genesis 22:13). The same principle pervades the levitical sacrifices—everywhere we read of the sinner laying his hand on the sacrifice (e.g., Leviticus 1:4). He is enacting on a personal level what the High Priest did nationally in Leviticus 16:21-22: transferring sin in all its penalties to another, appointing a substitute. Isaiah foresaw that ultimately only a Person could be a true substitute for persons (Isaiah 53:4-6), foreshadowing Jesus, when
In my place, condemned he stood;
Sealed my pardon his blood.
In this way (Psalm 32:1), sin is “covered”—not by being hidden out of sight, but as a debt is “covered” by the price which pays for it. Wonder of all wonders, my sin is no longer put to my account, but is “imputed” (Psalm 32:2) to Another. Jesus paid the price for my sin in full. Praise God. And thank you, Jesus.
This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:
|Monday: Psalms 34||☐||Thursday: Psalms 37||☐|
|Tuesday: Psalms 35||☐||Friday: Psalms 38||☐|
|Wednesday: Psalms 36||☐||Saturday: Psalms 39||☐|
Bible Column & Reading Plan by Rev. Chang Soo Lee
Mississauga Camps Lead Pastor