Psalm 32 – The Miracle of God’s Forgiveness

Reading Time: 8 Minutes

Psalm 32 is like a freight train that is loaded with multiple important thoughts about our relationship with God. It is based on the time when King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband murdered.

The story of David’s sin is found in 2 Samuel 11-12. David’s personal confession is recorded in Psalm 51. Psalm 32 is David’s message in the Temple about sin, confession and forgiveness.

The Blessing of the Pardoned

We can thank God for the many instances that a Bible verse begins with the word, “Happy.” However, without the blessing of forgiveness of sin all of the other beatitudes would be impoverished.

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
(Psalm 32.1-2)

There are three terms for human wrongdoing in these verses. Each one provides a different picture of our problem.

Transgression is the willful disregard of God’s clear instruction. Think of a “no trespassing” sign. Transgression is when we see God’s direction and guidance and go our own way in spite of it.

Sin involves our relationship with people. When we use our power to oppress others and deprive them of just dealing, we fall short of God’s design for our lives. That is the root meaning of sin.

Iniquity refers to a bent character. The Hebrew word for iniquity pictures someone who is not able to stay on the path that God has placed before them, because their core nature is bent.

The sad state of humanity is that these three terms describe every person who has walked the face of the earth (See Romans 3.23). The good news is that God has three terms to describe his grace toward us.

Forgiven literally means to be “lifted up” and “carried away.” God does not hold our willful disregard and rebellion against his direction against us. He removes it completely out of the way.

John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1.9). Note, “all” means ALL. He lifts up and carries away all of our unrighteousness.

Covered – God removes our sin out of his sight. Our sin is the harm that we do to others and to God. Praise God for the truth that God removes our sins from us.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103.11-12)

Impute – Picture a balance sheet and make a list of every time you have left the path of God’s will for your life. Now, imagine God completely wiping clean the list that accuses you of your wrongdoing.

When the Bible says that “the Lord imputes no iniquity,” he is the One who removes the list of our offenses.

In Romans 4, Paul used Psalm 32 to describe the fact that through Jesus we can completely claim the blessing of God’s forgiveness.

With these thoughts in mind, let’s do exactly what Isaiah said.

Turn to the Lord and pray to him,
now that he is near.
Let the wicked leave their way of life
and change their way of thinking.
Let them turn to the Lord, our God;
he is merciful and quick to forgive.
(Isaiah 55:6-7)

Personal Confession

When the prophet Nathan confronted David, the king could no longer hide his sin with Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. David honestly said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12.13).

David publicly confessed his sin. His first confession was Psalm 51, which was recited before an assembled group in the Temple.

Later, he taught the people of God how to confess and gave us Psalm 32. He said,

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 Lord,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
(Psalm 32.3-5)

Bathsheba and Uriah were in a vulnerable position to the powerful king. His sin was an offense against them, but also against God.

While we remain silent and attempt to conceal our sin, we can expect God’s hand of conviction of guilt to be on us. David pictures the physical, psychological, and spiritual effect of unconfessed sin.

It is important to note the word “my” in these verses. We often see the word “my” in reference to the fact that we can have a personal relationship with God. By God’s grace we are able to say, “My God.”

In this instance, the confession is “my sin,” “my iniquity,” and “my transgression.” True confession takes full responsibility for our wrongdoing.

God’s response to confession is to forgive. God’s part in forgiveness is the work of Jesus on the cross to absorb the hurt of sin. Our part in forgiveness is to acknowledge our sin and to turn to God for his grace.

Saint Augustine’s most famous writing is entitled, “Confessions.” Augustine found great consolation in knowing that God was ready to forgive him, when he was ready to confess his sins.

Please take a moment and meditate on the truth of Augustine’s words: “Do not claim the rights to God’s kingdom on the basis of your own justice, nor the right to sin on the grounds of God’s mercy.”

Mediate on Psalm 32

Let’s pause in our study of this Psalm and mediate on what we have observed.

— Let’s think of the three terms for wrongdoing: trespass, sin and iniquity.

— Let’s consider the cost of God’s grace (Romans 4) that allows him to forgive, cover and not impute our sins to us.

— Let’s use some of the great verses of this Psalm or other scriptures in this article to connect with God concerning the forgiveness of our own sins.

May We Pray for You?

Maywood Baptist Church’s prayer team is honored to pray for you. Please email me at or private message me on Facebook. We will pray for you.

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