Calvary Road Baptist Church


Psalm 32.3-5

This morning we find ourselves taking in the third message from our brief series dealing with the 32nd Psalm, with an overview of the entire psalm two weeks ago, and last week’s message from Psalm 32.1-2. Additionally, if you took up my challenge to spend all of two minutes at a time to read the entire psalm twice daily, you would by now be closing in on twenty eight times reading the 32nd Psalm through, expending almost four minutes a day in the process.

Several days ago someone contacted me and asked me how I was able to recollect passages from different parts of the Bible to address problems and answer questions posed to me. The answer is simple: It is called synthetic Bible study. “The basic idea of synthetic Bible study is to read one book of the Bible repeatedly in one sitting with a prayerful attitude and without using reference works, cross-references, etc.”[1] As one learns terrain by hiking back and forth over a region, so too you develop a profitable familiarity with a portion of God’s Word by reading it again and again and again. Everywhere in the Bible but the Psalms, synthetic Bible study is accomplished by repeatedly reading a book of the Bible through from start to finish. However, since the Psalms are a collection of 150 inspired poems, the synthetic study of a psalm is accomplished by reading that psalm again and again, such as I have encouraged you to do over these last two weeks. By the time this short series of messages comes to an end you will be very familiar with the 32nd Psalm, and you will then have started on a lifetime of studying God’s Word by such an approach when reading.

Shall we read the 32nd Psalm once more? Turn there, or find it on the back page of your bulletin, and stand once you find it. As we did last week, I will read the odd verses and you will responsively read the even verses:

A Psalm of David, Maschil.

1      Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2      Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

3      When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

4      For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

5      I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

6      For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

7      Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

8      I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

9      Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

10     Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

11     Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

The text for today’s message from Psalm 32 will be verses 3-5:

3      When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

4      For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

5      I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Reflect with me for just a moment on verses 1 and 2 before continuing David’s beatitudes:

1      Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2      Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

What David set forth at the beginning of this psalm is the Mount Everest of a creature’s existence who was born into this world a sinner. We know that we all have sinned, that we all come short of the glory of God, that the wages of sin is death, that every one of us because of Adam has been born dead in trespasses and sins, an enemy of God in an horrible pit.[2] Coming to this psalm so spiritually low, David begins the psalm by starting us out at the top, the very pinnacle of spiritual benefit, the fourfold blessednesses of one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, whose iniquity is not imputed to him, and whose spirit is without guile. Why does David, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, begin at the paramount, attracting our attention with blessednesses? Perhaps to whet our appetites. Perhaps to show us the possibilities. Perhaps to lift up our gaze. Perhaps to remind us of God’s desire for us. Perhaps as a means of tilling the soil a bit, breaking up the clods, showing the discouraged and the despondent that God’s nature precludes any hasty conclusions that He has given up on anyone or sidelined someone forever. Whatever the reason was for David beginning at the summit, at the peak, the fact remains that he did begin this psalm there, therefore blessedness is a spiritual place he had found himself occupying, and he writes for the purpose of showing others the way to occupying the same spiritual high ground.

Do you really and truly like where you are, my friend? Look at the wreckage that you have left behind and tell me that you bear no responsibility. Are you satisfied with discouragement, disillusionment, and the moral defilement that is associated with the kind of life you are living without God? If you are one who has convinced yourself that you seem at present to be doing well without a Savior, keep in mind what the Savior said in Mark 8.36: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” God’s plan for you and me is far more than some pathetic notion of happiness derived from fleshly appetites and a contrived sense of wellbeing. God’s plan for you involves something far more noble, something far loftier, than the mere enjoyment of your golden years. He does not want you to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or to stand in the way of sinners, or even to sit in the seat of the scornful. He has better in mind for you, loftier notions than you can imagine. He wants you with Him.

Looking at our text in two parts, notice,


3      When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

4      For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

May I bring three simple observations to your attention?

First, notice in verse 3 what David did and the accompanying affliction: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” What does David mean when he writes, “When I kept silence”? We know that David had previously sinned, though he was a believer. Since this psalm does not identify the particular sin, it is not necessary for us to call attention to the precise nature of the sin to benefit from what can be learned here. Suffice it to say that when David should have said something, when he should have spoken in some way, he remained silent. That is, he did not speak to the person he sinned against to effect a reconciliation, or he did not speak to God about the wrong he had done. There is application here to both the straying believer and the unbeliever. There was a consequence in David’s life associated with his silence: “my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.” Is this description of David’s physical suffering a result of God’s hand of chastisement on David, after the manner described in Hebrews 12.5-6?

5      . . . My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6      For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Perhaps, but it may also be that David is not referring to God’s chastisement of him as a believer at this point, but to a naturally arising physical affliction that developed as a direct result of his peace of mind and heart abandoning him because of a guilty conscience. This kind of thing can happen with anyone. The body is a finely tuned instrument that simply does not function as well as it can if it is not fed properly, exercised properly, rested and hydrated properly, or if there are issues arising from feelings of guilt for sins committed. Of course, most people deal with such problems by pretending sin isn’t sin at all. And that approach works . . . for a while, until the wheels of life come off at the end and the sinful soul is racing headlong for Hellfire. Does everyone always experience the same physical symptoms produced when an unhumbled condition arises from sins unforgiven? No. Remember, at this point, David is telling his story. He was bothered by God. Those who are in no way bothered by God invariably think they are in fine shape. No problems, no worries. They never think about the absence of any bother from God not being good news at all, but an indication they are being ignored, and left to themselves as Judgment Day approaches.

Next, notice in verse 4 what God did and the accompanying affliction: “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” David remembers that God was relentless in His dealings with him. “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me.” Notice, David is not here complaining in any way. He is merely stating fact. God is affecting his conscience. God is accusing him of wrongdoing. Hebrews 10.26-27 describes the general mental state that results from what David describes God doing to him:

26     For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27     But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Though he resisted for considerable time, was David ever truly free from what he had done? Is anyone ever truly free of the sins they have committed, that they have tried to justify by saying it was a long time ago? Despite people’s attempts to propagandize themselves with other philosophies and religions, spend some time around those who are dying and not under the influence of heavy narcotics, and you will see they are all fearful of judgment and fiery indignation. So, too, the child of God with a sin problem he has neither acknowledged or properly dealt with. The Spirit of God does not give peace of mind and heart to someone sinning willfully. The effect upon one’s soul? I think that is what David refers to when he writes, “my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” Back in Psalm 1.3, David likens himself to “a tree planted by the rivers of water.” However, in our text sin has resulted in that refreshing water drying up as in the drought of summer, and his soul’s moisture being like sap that is rapidly drying under harsh conditions. What a terrible condition for a man who had thoroughly enjoyed refreshing and soul satisfying communion with God.

No wonder he ends this portion of the psalm with “Selah.” Think about this, dear reader. Think about what you are missing, believer who has strayed from sweet communion once enjoyed and who now stubbornly refuses to repent. Think about what you have never known, lost friend who has never had communion with God and therefore you have no concept of spiritual life and genuine blessing.


5      I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

May I bring five more simple observations to your attention?

First, notice that David actually acknowledges his sin unto the LORD. Of course, this is a very big step for a sinner, to actually own up to a wrong done. What most do, of course, is deny the existence of God, is deny the personality of God, or attempt to rewrite God’s Word in order to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong instead of acknowledging sin to God. The phrase, “mine iniquity have I not hid” is an idiomatic expression to emphasize the opening statement, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee.”[3] Notice, especially, that a humbled and repentant David now deals directly with God, acknowledging his sin “to thee.” Thus, in a sense, David is doing something unbelievers simply cannot muster the courage to do; admitting to himself that God is personal and responding to Him in a personal way. Most unbelievers are not so insane that they would dare face God and defy Him, with David turning about in repentance to face God for the purpose of bowing before Him in repentance and confession.

Next, notice that David owns his sin rather than attempting to shift blame away. In the Garden of Eden, Adam said to God, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”[4] When it was Eve’s turn, she did the same thing when it came her time to speak, saying, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”[5] Does David follow after the pattern of Adam and Eve? Not at all, since blameshifting is quite the opposite of acknowledging “my sin unto thee” and not hiding “mine iniquity.” In our day, the pattern is typically to claim, “I was born this way,” “I grew up in a bad environment,” “my family life was dysfunctional,” or to claim that “the Devil made me do it.” Please do not mistake what I say as harshness or insensitivity, because that is not the case at all. Neither should you erroneously call God’s wisdom and compassion into question by concluding that holding someone accountable for conduct arising out of situations they do not control is somehow unfair. Just keep this in mind, my friend. You do not know justice, wisdom, mercy, and propriety as God knows such things. Further, recognize that the only way you will ever know the forgiveness of your sins is if you own them as yours. If you never own them as sins, and as your own sins, there is no hope for you of them ever being forgiven.

Third, notice that while the first portion of David’s dealings with God concerning his sin is passive, there is an active component that cannot be ignored: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD.” Consider for just a moment. For a man to acknowledge his sin to God is not an active measure, but a passive one. God has been dealing with you about wrongdoing, with your initial reaction to God’s dealings being denial. Acknowledging your sin to God means that you have ceased in your denial, you have stopped hiding your iniquity. A start, to be sure, but not nearly enough. Notice David’s description of that active phase of his involvement in his restoration by God to the place of blessedness: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD.” Again, David is personal with the personal God: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD.” While the wicked will be dragged by force to the Great White Throne for the judgment of the great day, the repentant is prompted to willingly turn about now to confess the transgressions he owns unto the LORD. Notice that this is not a denial of sinfulness by the believer, but the admission of guilt by the believer, much like First John 1.9 in the New Testament: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” A significant additional aspect to remember is that David, here, sets his course for the future: “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD.” Just like First John 1.9, this speaks not of a one-time effort, but of a purposing to always in the future deal with sins in this way.

Fourth, “. . . and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” “Should any one infer from this, that repentance and confession are the cause of obtaining grace, the answer is easy; namely, that David is not speaking here of the cause but of the manner in which the sinner becomes reconciled to God.”[6] Notice the parallel between restoration that is herein described and justification that is described in Paul’s letter to the Romans. In both cases, the Roman Catholic view would be that justification occurs because of the sinner’s faith in Christ or that reconciliation occurs because of the sinner’s confession of sin. However, that is most decidedly not the truth in either case. Just as Jesus does not save a sinner because he has trusted Him, but by means of his trusting Christ, so God’s forgiveness of the repentant believer’s sin is not described by David as occurring because of confession but by means of his faith-prompted confession. You see, God is in neither case responding to faith as though it is some kind of merit that deserves forgiveness. Forgiveness is not deserved in any case, with faith given by God serving as the means and never as the cause by which forgiveness is obtained. It is Roman Catholic theology which maintains that God saves a sinner because he has believed in Christ, or that God forgives a repenting believer because he confesses his transgressions. However, what the Bible teaches is that faith is the means of salvation, the means of forgiveness, and never the cause. The cause is always Jesus Christ. Repentance, just like faith, is a gift that God gives.[7] Therefore, when the straying sinner turns about as David here describes himself doing, it is active faith and repentance that was given to him by the LORD to effect his reconciliation with the LORD. Don’t you see, my friend? It is all of God, from start to finish and everything in between. Therefore, though you are involved, first passively in not denying or hiding your sin, and then actively by actually confessing to the LORD, His forgiveness is not caused by your actions as in a cause and effect event. Jesus Christ is always the cause, and both your actions and God’s forgiveness is the effect.

Fifth, and finally, “Selah.” There is much to think about, is there not? Much to reflect on and to consider. Too many of our race make too much of ourselves and too little of God. Did David acknowledge his sin, stop hiding his iniquity, and confess his transgression to the LORD? Yes, thankfully so. However, who prompted him, who afflicted him, whose hand was heavy on him to deal with his sin, and who turned his moisture into the drought of summer. What a kind and gracious thing it was for God to do, bothering David in that way so that he might be restored to the blessednesses of a close walk with God.

Ah, my friend, God is so good, so gracious, so merciful, and not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. However, it will not happen, it cannot happen, unless and until the sinner is willing to own his sin as sin, as well as owning his sin as his own sin, as opposed to blaming anyone or anything other than himself.

Outraged by the unfairness of it all? Okay. Just remember that your concept of fairness is a social construct and not an eternal and unvarying principle. The game of life is not played according to your rules, but by the rules of the One who both created and sustains all things. What is up for consideration in this psalm of David is forgiveness and the great joy and rejoicing that comes to those who are so blessed by God. If you are a wandering believer, you know what blessedness is, and perhaps this message has served as a reminder of what God brings about to restore you to that blessedness.

If you are not a believer, then there are things you just do not know and have never experienced. To know the blessednesses mentioned in this psalm, and to escape the wrath of the God whose enemy you are and whose loving and gracious personality you deny, you will simply have to accept some things as true that you cannot prove. If you will not do that, then I insist with almost forty years’ experience studying God’s Word and dealing with such matters in people’s lives, you will not know real joy because you will not know the forgiveness of your sins. Real joy, that is unspeakable and full of glory, awaits those whose sins are forgiven.

[1] 8/29/13

[2] Romans 3.23; 6.23; Ephesians 2.1; Romans 5.10; Psalm 40.2

[3] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol IV, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1979), pages 530-531.

[4] Genesis 3.12

[5] Genesis 3.13

[6] Calvin, page 531.

[7] Acts 5.31; 11.18; 2 Timothy 2.25; Romans 10.17; 12.3; 2 Corinthians 4.13; Galatians 5.22; Ephesians 2.8

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