Psalms 32


לְדָוִד מַשְׂכִּיל אַשְׁרֵי נְשׂוּי־פֶּשַׁע כְּסוּי חֲטָאָה׃   32:1

Psal. 32:1   For David, maschil.

                     Blessed is the Forgiver of transgression,

                             the Coverer of sin.

The term transliterated as maschil appears at the beginning of twelve other psalms, yet its meaning is not understood.  It has been thought to mean a didactic poem, and that translation is appropriate here.  But it isn’t in some other psalms.  So it is generally assumed to indicate a certain kind of musical rendition.

אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם לֹא יַחְשֹׁב יְהוָה לוֹ עָוֺן וְאֵין בְּרוּחוֹ רְמִיָּה׃‪   32:2

Psal. 32:2   Blessed is the man to whom the Lord would not impute iniquity

                             and there is no deceit in his spirit.

This verse is an introduction to the thrust of this psalm, that is, a soul full of unacknowledged iniquity is deeply troubled, while one that is free of iniquity is blessed.  The religious and psychological significance of this concept is at the heart of much of the Hebrew biblical writings.  And it is beautifully and powerfully contained here in just a few verses.

כִּי־הֶחֱרַשְׁתִּי בָּלוּ עֲצָמָי בְּשַׁאֲגָתִי כָּל־הַיּוֹם׃   32:3

Psal. 32:3   When I was silent,

                              my bones waxed old with my moaning all day long.

David holds up his own experience as a typical example.

כִּי יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה תִּכְבַּד עָלַי יָדֶךָ נֶהְפַּךְ לְשַׁדִּי בְּחַרְבֹנֵי קַיִץ סֶלָה׃   32:4

Psal. 32:4   For day and night Your “hand” was heavy on me;

                              my moisture turned into the drought of summer.          Selah.

חַטָּאתִי אוֹדִיעֲךָ וַעֲוֺנִי לֹא־כִסִּיתִי אָמַרְתִּי אוֹדֶה עֲלֵי פְשָׁעַי לַיהוָה וְאַתָּה נָשָׂאתָ עֲוֺן חַטָּאתִי סֶלָה׃   32:5

Psal. 32:5   I acknowledged my sin to You,

                              and I did not hide my iniquity.

                      I said, “I will hold my transgressions out over me to the Lord,”

                              and You forgave the iniquity of my sins.            Selah.

David says here that sincere acknowledgment of one’s sins and a cleansing of one’s heart bring the Lord’s merciful forgiveness, and leads to peace of mind.

עַל־זֹאת יִתְפַּלֵּל כָּל־חָסִיד אֵלֶיךָ לְעֵת מְצֹא רַק לְשֵׁטֶף מַיִם רַבִּים אֵלָיו לֹא יַגִּיעוּ׃   32:6

Psal. 32:6   Every godly man should pray to You about this at a time of closeness;

                              surely that the great flood of waters will not come near to him.

David describes his belief that a spiritual person should pray about his sins and beg for forgiveness whenever he feels close to the Lord -- and he should anticipate and experience the Lord’s forgiveness.

אַתָּה סֵתֶר לִי מִצַּר תִּצְּרֵנִי רָנֵּי פַלֵּט תְּסוֹבְבֵנִי סֶלָה׃   32:7

Psal. 32:7   You are a Hiding Place for me;

                              You shall preserve me from trouble;

                      Songs of deliverance You shall assemble around me.           Selah.

אַשְׂכִּילְךָ וְאוֹרְךָ בְּדֶרֶךְ־זוּ תֵלֵךְ אִיעֲצָה עָלֶיךָ עֵינִי׃   32:8

Psal. 32:8   “I will teach you and inform you in the way which you shall go;

                               I will make My ‘eyes’ a guide for you.”

Here and in the next verse, David seems to be echoing what he assumes God is communicating to him and to all godly individuals.

אַל־תִּהְיוּ כְּסוּס כְּפֶרֶד אֵין הָבִין בְּמֶתֶג־וָרֶסֶן עֶדְיוֹ לִבְלוֹם בַּל קְרֹב אֵלֶיךָ׃   32:9

Psal. 32:9   “You must not be like a horse or a mule without understanding,

                              with his mouth being held in bit and bridle,

                      neither coming near to you.”

I believe that these words, which I have assumed to still be the imagined words of the Lord, provide a great insight into David’s view of our relationship with the Lord.  It seems to me that David believed we are not to be unthinking  automatons in blind obedience.  We are to wholeheartedly embrace the Lord’s teaching, because we see its wisdom and we understand its benefits.  To my mind, this psalm succinctly contains much of the heart of the Torah’s message.  All it needs to be complete, more or less, is the need for our love for the Lord.

רַבִּים מַכְאוֹבִים לָרָשָׁע וְהַבּוֹטֵחַ בַּיהוָה חֶסֶד יְסוֹבְבֶנּוּ׃   32:10

Psal. 32:10   Many sorrows to the wicked!

                               While we who trust in the Lord

                        -- mercy shall encompass us.

שִׂמְחוּ בַיהוָה וְגִילוּ צַדִּיקִים וְהַרְנִינוּ כָּל־יִשְׁרֵי־לֵב׃   32:11

Psal. 32:11   Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, righteous ones,

                                and sing out, all upright of heart!


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