Psalm 32 Commentary

Psalm 32 Commentary: Meditating on Forgiveness of Sins

Open your Bible to Psalm 32.

Psalm 32 is a reflective or meditative psalm. It’s not a lament – that is, David isn’t working through a problem in his life with God’s help. And it’s not merely a praise psalm either – though David does praise the Lord in it.

But in Psalm 32, David wants to lead us along as he ponders and meditates on and reflects upon one theme.

And that theme is forgiveness of our sins

Psalm 32 Commentary
Psalm 32 in Romans 4

Paul the Apostle in the New Testament letter to the Romans picks up on this theme. When Paul in Romans 4 is trying to prove that being justified apart from works is not some new thing – he references this psalm. He goes back to the justification that Abraham experienced. And then he quotes this psalm to prove that even David knew what it was like to have his sins not counted against him – but rather to have righteousness accounted to him.

Psalm 32 Commentary
We Have Forgiveness in Christ

And this is the case for every man, woman, and child who has placed his trust in Jesus Christ to save him from his sin. If that’s you today, your sins – which are many – have been forgiven you. You are not under God’s condemnation – under his eternal death sentence. He will never impute to you your sin. Rather, he has imputed to you his son’s righteousness.

So, let’s meditate along with David on this blessed theme of Forgiveness of Sins in Psalm 32.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Superscription

We’ll start with the superscription.

KJV Psalm 32:1 <A Psalm of David, Maschil.>

This term maschil occurs 14x in the OT – all of which are in this book of Psalms. And this is the first occurrence of it. It likely means something like a skillful song or a contemplative song. That latter option would make sense here since we’re in a meditative or reflective psalm.

Well, how does this contemplative song start out?

Psalm 32 Commentary
Declaration of Blessing (1-2)

It begins with David declaring blessing to a certain type of person in verse 1.

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

Psalm 32 Commentary
Blessed

Now, to be blessed is to find yourself in an enviable position.

It was the position that Israel found itself in as it was saved from Egypt by God.

It was the position of Solomon’s men and servants who got to hear and see that great king’s superior wisdom.

This is the position of the man in Psalm 1 who meditates on God’s word.

It’s also the position that one finds himself in when – like in Psalm 2 – he embraces God’s son lest he become angry when his anger is kindled a little.

Blessedness is the position that we’ll see in Psalm 33 is the case for the nation whose God is the Lord. It’s also the position in Psalm 34 of one who takes refuge in the Lord.

And you and I are in this enviable position of being blessed if your transgressions are forgiven.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Forgiven

The word forgiven here is often translated as “lifted” (nasa) – but when used in relation to sins it’s speaking of God dismissing the offense that our sin is to him.

It’s this dismissal of sin that Abraham pled with God about concerning Sodom – and that Joseph’s brothers pled with Joseph concerning their sin against him.

But, have you ever thought of the enviable position that this creates for a person?

When I was in eighth grade I came to be really bothered about my sin. I knew I had sinned greatly against God and others. And I wanted this very thing – this forgiveness. I asked God if we could “start again please” in my words as I recall them. But I had no idea how to attain this forgiveness. Praise the Lord that down the road several years later I trusted Christ to forgive and save me from my sin. But I initially had no idea – I wanted this enviable position of having my sins lifted from me – forgiven. I envied that possibility and wanted it for myself – even though I didn’t know how to get it.

And when you think about it – which is what David is leading us to do in this meditative psalm !!! – isn’t it amazing that God is willing to forgive sins?

He doesn’t need to. God could be all justice and only justice. And he is all justice. God demands righteousness – perfect righteousness – fulfilling all of your obligations. If you don’t, you are separated from him. No questions.

But praise God that he takes it upon himself to lift transgressions. And we’re going to see how this happens to a person throughout this psalm – how a person can experience the blessings of forgiven sins.

But what this psalm does not know about is ultimately how sin can be forgiven. Basically, we’re going to see David confessing his sin to the Lord and that’s how he has his sin forgiven. And yet – how does God do that? How does he just forgive sin when someone confesses them to him?

The New Testament is where God reveals how this works. He put our sin on Christ – who suffered in our place – the just for the unjust. This allows God the Father to be just – by holding sin to be punished – and also the justifier of one who has faith in Christ.

The Old Testament doesn’t explain how this ultimately works. You have to receive the New Testament to understand how it is that simply confessing your sin allows God to forgive you. The truth is – confession in the Old Testament was looking forward to a provision in the New Testament. That provision is Jesus Christ.

So, what an enviable position we find ourselves in when we have our sins lifted from us – dismissed – forgiven.

And I don’t know what kind of problems you have today. There are some whose family members are close to death – and this is a very troubling and sobering reality. Some have pagan family members – and that’s a great sorrow and trial. Some have worrying health problems that might keep you up at night. We all live in a nation in a day and age that is just oftentimes frightening. We’re weak. We’re dying. We have all sorts of problems.

And yet – who here has their sin forgiven? Every other issue in our lives can just kind of quiet down and take a back seat when we have this settled – when we have our sins forgiven.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Covered Sin

Well, not only are our sins forgiven or lifted – but they’re also covered.

What’s really interesting is that in verse 5, as we’ll see in a little while – David says that the way that God forgave his sin is when David stopped covering it – same word as here.

So, in fact, the only way that God covers your sin – hides your sin, as it were – is when you stop.

You want God to hide your sin? Then stop trying to do it yourself.

You can’t. God can. And he only will when you stop trying.

So, David continues guiding us in meditating on this blessed man whose sins are forgiven and covered in verse 2.

KJV Psalm 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Imputeth

So, you are in an enviable position when your sins are forgiven and covered. Add to that now – that you are blessed when the Lord doesn’t impute iniquity to you. He doesn’t count it against you. He doesn’t charge it to your account, as it were.

This imputing is what God did to Abraham in Genesis 15:6. But the object that is imputed is quite different there than it is here.

Here in Psalm 32 the Lord does not impute iniquity. In Genesis 15:6 the Lord does impute righteousness.

And there’s some reason to think that both approaches are the same. In other words, to negatively not impute iniquity is to positively impute righteousness. That’s what Paul says in Romans 4. He says that David here in Psalm 32 “describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works…”

But David doesn’t say that here. He speaks of not imputing iniquity. And yet, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul says that when David here speaks of not imputing iniquity, it’s the same thing as speaking of imputing righteousness.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Guile

And then David gives one more description of this man who is blessed because his sins are forgiven and covered and because God has not imputed iniquity to him. He doesn’t have any guile in his spirit.

He doesn’t have any deceit in him. He’s not deceiving people.

And don’t think that all of a sudden David is saying that you can have your sins forgiven by just trying really hard to not be deceitful.

We need to consider what David is talking about. What is this blessed man not deceitful about in context? He’s talking about not deceiving himself or God or others about his own sin and iniquity, of course.

The man whose sins are forgiven and covered and not imputed to him – he has come to the place where he no longer lies about his sin. He doesn’t deceive anyone about his sin. He knows and acknowledges readily that he is a sinner…

Really, there’s no way. There’s no way that you can lie about your sins – and at the same time have them forgiven. God doesn’t work that way with men.

If you want your sins forgiven, you need to not beguile others or yourself or God about those sins. You need to come clean.

And it’s not just you and I that experience this reality. David did, too…

Psalm 32 Commentary
Recollection of Chastening

There was actually a time when David was “beguiling” and not totally truthful with God about his sin, according to verse 3.

KJV Psalm 32:3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.

And this silence of course would have been in regard to his sin. He pretended like it had never happened.

I’m thinking that he has his sin with Bathsheba in mind here. And if that’s the case, then we know that there was a period of time in which David was silent about that sin – from the time it happened until Nathan the prophet confronted him.

And if you ever wondered what was happening in David’s life during that time, this is where we discover some of what he experienced.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Bones Waxed Old

He says that his bones waxed old. They felt like they wore out. This is the same phrase as was used of the Israelites’ footwear during their wilderness wanderings – they didn’t wear out – or of the deceitful Gibeonites’ who wore old worn out clothing to deceive Joshua.

And David spoke in Psalm 31:11 about his bones being consumed because of his sin. And we saw that the sin that resulted in this happening in Psalm 31 was again David’s sin with Bathsheba. It resulted in God allowing his family to come unhinged and eventually resulted in his son Absalom rebelling against and trying to kill his father. And in that context as well as this one, he speaks of his bones and the problems that his bones experienced.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Roaring

And further, in Psalm 32 – David speaks of his roaring. And you might wonder what that means. That word is really the word that’s used of the literal noise that literal lions make. They roar.

And David says he was doing that. He was making the human equivalent of the loud terrible noise that lions make. The picture is that of anguish and loud lamenting – grief and regret and pain all given voice to and emanating from this man. And it’s this activity with all of its emotional background that has caused David to feel as if his bones were wearing out.

Again – just like we saw in Psalm 31 – David’s emotional reaction to his grave sin effected him not only on the emotional level – but also on the physical level.

And really – it wasn’t just that David was experiencing physical problems because of his own concocted emotions. No, God actually had a hand in this anguish that David was experiencing according to verse 4.

KJV Psalm 32:4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me:
my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.

Selah.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Hand

God’s hand was heavy on David. It was as if David were being pressured by God – oppressed – troubled.

That’s something that so many of us know – God might let mankind in general get away with sin for now in this life. But he doesn’t let his children get away with it. And the means he uses to chasten might not immediately seem like love. But he acts in this way so that he can avoid punishing us eternally.

God insists on his people being holy. And when we’re not – after much patience – he will – as it were – put his hand down.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Moisture

And the result of this for David was that his moisture dried up. What does that mean?

Well, moisture is used only one other place – Numbers 11:8 where it’s describing the taste of the Manna and it says in the KJV that it tastes like fresh olive oil.

So, this word in Psalm 32 is something like freshness. God makes David’s freshness or vitality into the dryness of a summer’s drought through his oppressive hand being upon him continually as a chastening for his sin.

And this all happened when David was beguiling and deceitful about his sin. When he attempted to hide it. That’s what we’ve heard about so far in verses 3 and 4.

Psalm 32 Commentary
Retelling of Confessed Sin and Forgiveness

But then comes verse 5. This is where David retells how he finally broke his silence, confessed his sin to the Lord, and was granted pardon by this merciful God whom we worship.

KJV Psalm 32:5 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.

So, David acknowledged or confessed his sin to the Lord – he made it known to the Lord. And it’s that very sin that the Lord forgave according to both the end of this verse and verse 1 where a very similar word is used.

In our natural ways, men think that we can hide our sins from God. It almost feels natural to just be deceitful about our sins and to try to keep them hidden.

It’s as old as Adam’s sin. He didn’t immediately come and confess his sin to the Lord. No, instead he hid from God. He tried to hide his sin.

And yet that is not at all what the Lord wants. And that’s what David discovered.

Again, as we discussed back in verse 2, the one whose sin is covered (same word as hid here in verse 5) is blessed. But it must be the Lord who is doing the covering – not us.

Part of having your sin forgiven is to not cover or hide it but rather to acknowledge and confess it so that the Lord can then cover it.

It’s interesting that there are a number of words used in this verse that David used back in verses 1 and 2. We just mentioned hid/cover. There’s also forgavest here that we also saw in verse 1. And iniquity which is found here and in verse 2.

The point is that in verses 1 and 2 David is expressing wonder at how amazing it is to have your sins forgiven. Then verses 3 and 4 have David lamenting the time when he tried to pretend like he didn’t sin. And now here – verse 5 – here’s how to get to the point of verses 1 and 2 with your sins all forgiven.

The key to forgiven sin? Confession. Not hiding behind the fig leaves like Adam. Not blaming others like he did. No – confession – owning up to your sin. Not making excuses.

How amazing. Forgiveness of sins – imputation of righteousness – simply by confessing your sin…

Psalm 32 Commentary
Verses 6-7

And we see David speaking directly to God in verses 6 and 7 now in light of his power and willingness to forgive sins.

KJV Psalm 32:6 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.

The word this here in verse 6 refers to God’s willingness to forgive sins. Because of his willingness to forgive sins – the godly – those who trust God and are serious about him – David wants these people to be encouraged to not delay like he did.

And so, let’s not delay confessing sin to God. Do it right now if you’re aware of anything.

And if you do, even if your life feels like you’re in a flood of waters – it won’t touch you. You won’t be overcome. If God has forgiven your sins and not imputed iniquity to you – you cannot and will not be overcome.

And, these thoughts naturally lead David to praise the Lord in verse 7.

KJV Psalm 32:7 Thou art my hiding place;
thou shalt preserve me from trouble;
thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.

Selah.

And surely the floods that David spoke of in verse 6 were more of the ever-present distresses that his sin with Bathsheba earned him.

And yet despite the fact that those chastening realities were directly from the Lord – he still owns God as his hiding place – the one who preserves him – the one who delivers him so that he’s surrounded by songs of deliverance.

Wait – the one who chastens also delivers? Yes. That’s how God works.

And this again has a tie in with Psalm 31 where David was lamenting the results of his sin. There he spoke of those who trust the Lord hiding in God’s hiding place – same word as we have here.

Well, then, amazingly, we have God speaking directly to David and by extension to us in verses 8 and 9.

Psalm 32 Commentary
A Word from God

KJV Psalm 32:8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go:
I will guide thee with mine eye.

The word instruct means to “make one keen/give success.” God will do this for the person who confesses his sin.

And we see this in David’s life even after his devastating sin. God still guided him.

And here’s the alternative that God does not want in verse 9…

KJV Psalm 32:9 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.

These animals have no understanding and will not come to you without these pieces of equipment.

Don’t be like them when it comes to God. Don’t keep your distance. Don’t run away from God like a horse would from someone when there was no bit or bridle on him.

That’s God’s parting advice for David and all of his people – Don’t avoid me. Don’t hide from me. Come unto me!

Psalm 32 Commentary
Encouragement to Trust and Rejoice in the Lord

And then, God stops speaking and David resumes by encouraging us to trust and rejoice in the Lord in verse 10.

KJV Psalm 32:10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked:
but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

Note the contrast. Sorrows to the wicked but mercy (chesed) surrounding those who trust in the Lord.

And of course, the wicked would be characterized by constantly hiding from the Lord and not confessing their sins. Whereas those who trust in the Lord are those who confess their sins. It’s not that one group doesn’t sin and the other does. David as we know had great sin. If he responded by perpetually covering his sin, he would very well be classed in this group he identifies as the wicked. But the point is what a person does when he sins.

If you trust in the Lord you confess your sin. If you don’t, you will find yourself among this group of the wicked.

And so, because of this blessed merciful reality of God forgiving sins and surrounding us with mercy, David exhorts us finally in verse 11.

KJV Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous:
and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

The righteous – not the sinless – are exhorted to be glad and rejoice. The upright in heart – not the sinless in heart – are exhorted to shout for joy.

And to do it in the Lord. To do it because of the Lord – because of his merciful forgiveness of our sins.

May we do that very thing the rest of the day as we remember his son – who alone allows God the Father to Forgive Our Sins.

Psalm 31 Meaning

Turn to Psalm 31.

Psalm 31 is a lament psalm in which David is trying to work through a problem in his life with the Lord’s help.

That problem – as it turns out – is his son Absalom entering into Jerusalem to kill his own father.

Let’s start by inspecting the superscription of this psalm.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 1 Explanation

KJV Psalm 31:1 <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.>

So, this psalm claims that David is its author.

And as I said, the setting of Psalm 31 is likely when Absalom his son came into Jerusalem, intent on killing his father. I think we’ll find it pretty easy to place various realities in this psalm into that situation in David’s life.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Invocation / Confidence (1a)

And so, David begins this psalm by invoking and expressing his confidence in the Lord.

In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust;

So, that’s David’s bedrock assurance and confidence. He trusts in the Lord. No one and nothing else – not his military strength or wisdom or anything. The Lord, alone is his trust.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Petition (1b-4)

And so, because he trusts the Lord, he now comes to him with his petitions – because things are not going well in his life.

let me never be ashamed:
deliver me in thy righteousness.

So, David asks for a deliverance that would prevent his everlasting (never = forever) shame.

 2 Bow down thine ear to me;
deliver me speedily:
be thou my strong rock,
for an house of defence to save me.

David wants God to hear him, to deliver him quickly, and to be like a lofty protective hideout that would result in his salvation – his physical deliverance.

 3 For thou art my rock and my fortress;
therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

Rock – (selah – crag, cliff) different word than in verse 2

Fortress – (mesudah) same word as defense in verse 2

So, verse 2 was David asking God to be certain things for him – a rock and a house of defence. But now in verse 3 we discover that those very things that David asked God to be in verse 2 – he already is according to verse 3.

And this is how we ought to pray, too. God is out provider. And yet, we also ask him to provide our daily bread.

Well, then we saw that David urges that the Lord direct him – because what happens to David will impact God’s reputation – God’s name.

 4 Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me:
for thou art my strength.

David requests that the Lord release him from the traps that his enemies- really, his own son – have laid secretly for him (as if he were an animal).

And they are said to have done this privly. And that’s just the picture we get from the story of how Absalom worked out this coup. He secretly gathered people little by little until he had enough men to overthrow his father.

And so, David asks God at the end of verse 4 to bring him as it were to a place of safety – which place the Lord is pictured as actually being.

So, that’s David’s first set of petitions in verses 1 through 4. We’ll see that he has another set of petitions in verses 15 through 18.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Confidence (5-8)

But starting in verse 5 and running to verse 8 we see David putting aside his petitions for a moment and instead confessing to his confidence in the Lord.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 5 Commentary

David starts by uttering a phrase that is very familiar to readers of the New Testament.

 5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit:
thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

In Luke 23:46, Luke records the first phrase of this verse as Jesus’ last statement on the cross.

Jesus there was expressing confidence in the Lord’s sovereign control of his life, just like his father David did here in Psalm 31.

It’s interesting that Luke doesn’t quote from Psalm 22 like Matthew and Mark do regarding being forsaken. Instead, Luke focuses on the trust that Jesus had in his father.

So, back to Psalm 31 – David is appointing his spirit into the hands of God for safekeeping. He is confident that God will redeem him either in the future or he might be saying that God already has done so.

This redemption is something like rescue. David is confident that God will rescue him or already has made plans to do so.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 6 the Message

David continues…

 6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities:
but I trust in the LORD.

David has trusted the Lord despite those around him who worship worthless idols. David hates those men because of their treacherous actions against the God who made a covenant with their fathers.

Now, this is something that I don’t think is stated in the account of Absalom’s rebellion. I don’t think we hear that he was an idol worshipper – or that his comrades were either. But it’s not a stretch to imagine that men who are so low and worthless and treacherous certainly wouldn’t be worshipping the God of truth – as he’s labeled earlier in this psalm.

And because David trusts in the Lord…

 7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy:
for thou hast considered my trouble;
thou hast known my soul in adversities;

Note the utter joy – he speaks of being glad and rejoicing.

God’s steadfast loyal love has caused God to not be aloof to David’s problems. No, the Lord has seen and known all about them. This intimate personal concern causes David great joy.

Being in adversity doesn’t mean that God has forgotten about you. He’s well aware. He considers your trouble. He knows your soul – even and especially in adversity.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 8 Commentary

And David continues communicating his confidence in the Lord…

 8 And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy:
thou hast set my feet in a large room.

Contrast – shut up vs. set / the hand of the enemy vs. a large room/place

So, David continues his rejoicing from v. 7 that God has not allowed his enemies to trap him in their hands as it were – but rather the Lord has set him free into a roomy spacious area where he is given some room to stretch. This is part of the demonstration of God’s loyal love  – his mercy chesed from verse 7.

So, that’s verses 5 through 8 – David’s confidence in the Lord. He commits his life to the Lord. He hates those who turn from the Lord to worship idols – yet he himself has continued to trust the Lord alone. He takes comfort in God’s loyal love and intimate knowledge of him and his situation. And he’s confident that God will not deliver him to his enemies – but rather will deliver him from his enemies.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Lament (9-13)

But now that David has communicated his confidence in the Lord, he enters into the section known as the lament in verses 9-13. This is where David airs his complaint that he needs God’s help to overcome.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 9-16 Commentary

He begins…

 9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble:
mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

David asks for grace because he feels constricted and bound up with trouble or affliction.

This affliction extends beyond the emotions and into the physical aspects of David’s life. His body (eye, soul, and belly) feels the effects of this affliction.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 10 Commentary

David goes on…

 10 For my life is spent with grief,
and my years with sighing:

my strength faileth because of mine iniquity,
and my bones are consumed.

There is some chastening that is not a result of sin. But in David’s case – as he’s writing Psalm 31 – he knows that this is not the case for him. He knows that his suffering is a result of his sin.

His life has been spent – that is, it’s close to being over. And it was later on toward the end of David’s life that Absalom his son was leading a national upheaval against him.

And how are these golden years of David characterized? By grief and sighing. By his bones being consumed – same word as we saw in verse 9 regarding David’s eye.

And why is all of this happening? David owns up to that fact that his iniquity has caused this. His sin with Bathsheba and against her husband Uriah brought God’s chastening – and that chastening never left his house to the day of David’s death.

And David is humble enough to acknowledge that fact here. He’s not blaming God. He’s not questioning God’s justice or mercy. He’s accepting the fact that his sin has caused some irreversible problems in his life.

Now, I wanted to mention one other thing that’s noteworthy here. We read verse 5 before – “into your hands I commit my spirit.”

And because of verse 5, some call this a Messianic psalm. And there’s nothing wrong with that – but we do definitely need to qualify what it means that a psalm is a Messianic psalm.

Whatever it means, it cannot mean that every single line in this psalm applies to Christ. For example, verse 10 here is definitely not about Christ.

The Scripture says that he knew no sin. But what does David say of himself here? He speaks of his “iniquity.” So, this can’t be Christ speaking of himself through this entire psalm.

Jesus does use verse 5 of this psalm to communicate his total abandoning of his soul to his father like David was doing in this psalm. But it doesn’t follow that Christ is pictured everywhere in this psalm – certainly not in verse 10 here.

Alright, let’s move on to verse 11…

 11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies,
but especially among my neighbours,
and a fear to mine acquaintance:
they that did see me without fled from me.

David here is speaking of the fear that his multiplied enemies brought to his friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

And it’s easy to place this in the timeline of David’s life. As he was fleeing Jerusalem to avoid being assassinated by his son, many of his close friends and acquaintances abandoned him for fear of the uprising against him.

And because of this wide-scale abandonment of him by his friends, David says…

 12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind:
I am like a broken vessel.

So, the treatment David has received from his friends makes him feel as remembered and thought-of as a dead man who’s been totally forgotten. That is, he feels totally forsaken by his fellow man.

And when he mentions a broken vessel we should think of something like a disposable dish in our day. When you throw away a paper cup, it would be absurd to think that you would remember it with longing affection. No one does that.

And that’s David’s point – even those close friends and neighbors he mentioned in verse 11 have abandoned and forgotten him.

And again, most of the abandonment is due to his son coming to town in order to kill David, as he recalls in verse 13…

 13 For I have heard the slander of many:
fear was on every side:

while they took counsel together against me,
they devised to take away my life.

Now, for any of us who were here for our teaching through Jeremiah, we might recognize that phrase “fear on every side.” That’s the phrase found five times in the book of Jeremiah – magor misabib. Outside of Jeremiah, that phrase is found once in the Old Testament – and here it is!

In Jeremiah, that phrase was used in conjunction with the threat of an enemy force coming and invading the land. In Jeremiah’s day that force was Babylon. But in David’s day – around 500 years before Jeremiah was written – that force was his own son and the rebel band he led against his own father.

So, that’s David’s lament. He is experiencing an enemy invasion – headed up by his own son. As a result of this influx of dangerous men who are out to kill David, he’s finding that many of his closest companions are abandoning him. And he ultimately has only his sin to blame for his numerous life-threatening problems.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Confidence (14-15a)

But just at that point – after cataloging the reasons for his fear and anxiety – that’s when David renews his expressions of confidence in the Lord in verse 14 and the first part of verse 15.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 14 15 Commentary

 14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD:
I said, Thou art my God.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 15 Commentary

 15 My times are in thy hand:

So, David confesses his total trust in the Lord. That’s the trust that was shown to be a great contrast to those who worshipped idols – as we already heard about in verse 7.

David also confesses his relationship with the Lord – that the Lord is his God.

And then he again assigns his life into the Lord’s hands. That reminds us of David’s expression of confidence from verse 5 that he commits his spirit into the hands of the Lord. David’s spirit and his times are in the Lord’s hands.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Petition (15b-18)

And yet despite the fact that David feels confident in his times and his spirit being in God’s hands, he feels compelled in verses 15 through 18 to petition God to keep him out of the hands of his enemies.

deliver me from the hand of mine enemies,
and from them that persecute me.

16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant:
save me for thy mercies’ sake.

17 Let me not be ashamed, O LORD;
for I have called upon thee:

let the wicked be ashamed,
and let them be silent in the grave.

18 Let the lying lips be put to silence;
which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

So, David’s petitions are broken up into two categories – deliverance for himself and punishment for his wicked enemies.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Praise / Confidence (19-24)

And now, petition (vv15-18) gives way to praise and expressions on confidence in the last six verses of this psalm in verses 19-24.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 19 Commentary

 19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee;
which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 20 Commentary

What does that goodness look like?…

 20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man:
thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

And that goodness that the Lord shows in protecting David causes him to cry out…

 21 Blessed be the LORD:
for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.

That’s his faithful loyal love in a strong city. Strong is actually translated the vast majority of the time as having to do with a siege – an invasion.

So, David is saying that even in the midst of his city literally being invaded, he has seen God’s loyal steadfast love toward him.

And David had thought his case was hopeless. But God had other plans…

 22 For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes:
nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.

Then David turns to the saints – those who are serious about the Lord – and he encourages us to love the Lord.

 23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints:
for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.

The way that the Lord deals with those who trust him and those who hate him and his people is always right. It may not be done according to our timeline, but the Lord deals with everyone in the way that they deserve in the right time.

Psalm 31 Meaning
Psalm 31 24 Meaning

 24 Be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

And may that be the case for us. May we who hope in the Lord love the one who preserves the faithful and will eventually punish our enemies – and who has and will ultimately deal with all of our problems – even when those problems are caused by our own sin.

Psalm 30 7 Meaning

Psalm 30 7 Meaning: And David had reason to be proud. He was prosperous as we’ve seen already. But this prosperity came from God – which he acknowledges in verse 7.

 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong:

Psalm 30 7 Meaning
Mountain

Mountain (har) is a poetic way of saying David’s rule which was centered on Mount Zion. God had established David king in Jerusalem.

Psalm 30 7 Meaning
Prosperity from God

The point is – the prosperity that David experienced was all from the Lord.

And isn’t it such a sad reflection on our sin to note that the very blessings that God so richly bestows on our lives … can lead us to proud arrogance – even the kind that brings us to forsake in some ways the God who gave us this prosperity!

Well, when God’s blessings lead us to pride, God is faithful to humble us – like he was with David…

thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.

That’s all it takes. We can build ourselves up in our pride to seem invincible.

Psalm 30 7 Meaning
Hidden Face

And yet all it takes to trouble us is for God to hide his face – to ignore or reject us in some way.

It all comes down to this – It all depends on the Lord. If he just happens to want to strengthen you, strengthened you will be. If he were to withdraw himself from your life, you will be troubled/dismayed/terrified. It’s all in his power to do.

And this is what David experienced and what he’s now relating as he is dedicating this house in Jerusalem to the Lord.

Return to our Psalm 3o Commentary!

Psalm 30 Commentary

Turn to Psalm 30 for our Psalm 30 commentary.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Praise Psalm

Psalm 30 is a praise psalm. But as we study through this psalm it might sound sort of like a lament.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Praise in Content

We’ll see David relate how his own pride seemed to bring God’s fearful chastening – which he says almost killed him. But the Lord was merciful and so David praises him for that mercy.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Praise in Structure

So, not only does the content of Psalm 30 indicate that it’s a praise psalm – but the structure of the psalm also indicates that it’s a praise psalm.

We have verse 1 that begins with the call to praise – “I will extol thee, O LORD.” Then we have the typical catalog of praiseworthy attributes or actions of the Lord that serves as the body of the psalm. And then the psalm ends with this typical concluding praise – “O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

So, both the content and the structure of Psalm 30 let us know that we’re reading a praise psalm.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Occasion

Even the occasion that we’re given in the superscription of this psalm leads us to think of a time where David would be especially inclined to praise the Lord.

KJV Psalm 30:1 <A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David.>

Now, there are a few different possibilities as to what David is speaking of here.

First, to be clear, David wrote this psalm. In fact, the phrase “of David” could be attached to the word house – as in the house is somehow related to David. Or that phrase of David could be associated with the phrase A Psalm and Song and mean that the entire psalm is written by David.

Psalm 30 Commentary
The House

But what is the house that’s referred to here?

Psalm 30 Commentary
David’s Home

I suppose that this could be speaking of David’s literal home. So, this psalm would be one that David wrote when he built his palace in Jerusalem.

And this is possible, but I think not likely.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Solomon’s Temple

Some have thought that this is Solomon’s Temple. If that were the case, then David is writing this in anticipation of the Temple being dedicated under Solomon’s leadership. David would never have seen it.

And this is a possibility. But I think there’s a better option.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Tabernacle

Now, sometimes the word house is used to describe the Tabernacle. And that Tabernacle was in Shiloh for a while.

But you remember that David transferred the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh eventually to Jerusalem. And when the ark came to Jerusalem it didn’t come to the Temple. No, it was stored in a tent that David made.

And I think this is most likely the case – that this psalm was written for the time when the tabernacle of David in Jerusalem – which temporarily housed the ark – was dedicated for its purpose of housing that ark.

If this is the case, then David is recounting in this psalm the trouble he encountered while trying to get the ark to its place in Jerusalem – to the house of David. Trouble like Uzza putting his hand out to stabilize the ark and being killed. The trouble that ensued as David tried to figure out where he went wrong with that situation. And then the trouble of his own wife mocking his jubilant enthusiasm as he brought the ark into the city and into this house commissioned by David.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 1

And with the context set, let’s examine verse 1 of Psalm 30.

Let’s look at the brief call to praise first.

I will extol thee, O LORD;

Let’s briefly stop there.

This is the call to praise of the psalm. David here is addressing not heavenly beings like he did in Psalm 29.

No, this time David is calling on himself to praise the Lord. And this praise comes both as a promise and as a determined desire. David will extol the Lord.

So, why is David determined to praise the Lord? Well, here starts the catalog of praiseworthy actions of the Lord in this psalm…

for thou hast lifted me up,
and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Lifted Up

So, David wants to lift up (or extol) the Lord because the Lord drew him up (or lifted him up). It’s as if David was drawn from a dangerous well. And so, he wants to turn around the return the favor in some small way by lifting up the Lord in praise.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Enemies

So, David is praising God for victories over his enemies. Not necessarily that David was granted some sort of military victory – but rather the Lord delivered him in some way which prevented the enemies from gloating.

And we can imagine how David’s enemies would have been given opportunity to mock the King after his failed attempt to bring the ark into Jerusalem. And then when the ark actually did come, his own wife turned into his enemy. So, this group of enemies wanted to rejoice over David.

And yet, David ultimately was given the upper hand in this situation. He triumphed through the Lord’s allowing him to finally bring the ark into Jerusalem in God’s time and in God’s way.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Up and Over

Now, notice the picture of elevation in this verse. God lifts David up. And if God hadn’t done that, David’s enemies would rejoice over him. Elevation then is pictured as victory and triumph here.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 2

Now, how did the Lord lift David up and not allow David’s foes to rejoice over him? Well, in verses 2 and 3 David relates that God delivered him from a life-threatening situation.

 2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee,
and thou hast healed me.

So, David cried to the Lord and the Lord responded with healing.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Healed

The mention of healing in response to prayer almost makes it sound as if David was sick. And the difficulty with that is that we don’t see anything about David being sick in relation to him bringing the ark up to Jerusalem.

In fact, we don’t have any record from this time in David’s life of him ever being sick. The closest we get is when Michal – Saul’s daughter and David’s wife who later would despise him and become his enemy – once she pretended that he was sick in bed to protect him from Saul.

But otherwise, we don’t see David sick around this time in his life – or really, ever.

So, the reference to healing may be metaphorical. As in – the rebuke I received when you killed Uzza was like a sickness for which I needed healing.

Or perhaps along with Uzza being struck by the Lord, David also experienced some physical chastening for his bringing up the ark in a way that disobeyed God’s commands.

Either way, David cried to the Lord for help and healing – in whatever way he needed it – and the Lord responded. For which now David is praising the Lord as he finally gets to dedicate this house for the Lord in Jerusalem.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 3

And not only did David picture himself as sick – we see in verse 3 that he felt as though he might die.

3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave:
thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Prevention of Death, Not Resurrection

Now, this verse is not so much about resurrection as it is about prevention of death. The first line might sound like it’s speaking of resurrection, but the second line makes it clear that David has in mind not even dying in the first place.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Grave/Pit

And David uses two Hebrew words translated as grave = sheol and pit bor to communicate that he felt as though he was going to die.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Deliverance from Death

And really, I would assume that David was pretty close to Uzza when God struck him dead. And we don’t know if David experienced some residual effect from that blow to Uzza – but whatever the case, David is expressing praise to the Lord for deliverance from death – a death that David easily could have experienced for his carelessness in handling the Ark of the Covenant.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Contrasts

And then, note the contrast that David employs here. He was brought up from the grave rather than being caused to go down to the pit. Both are pictures of death – where a dead body would be laid.

God reversed what David deserved – which is why David praises him in this psalm.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 4

And David came to realize after the death of Uzza that the Lord took this drastic action simply because it was in keeping with his holy standards. The Lord told the Israelites to carry the ark on poles with Levites manning those poles. Instead, David presumptuously kept the ark on a cart. That was not what God wanted. God’s holiness was neglected.

And so, in verse 4 David – with this deeper understanding of God’s holiness – calls on other believers to praise the Lord for this holiness.

 4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his,
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Call to Praise 

So, here is kind of a second call to praise in this psalm.

And now not only is David praising the Lord – but he’s calling on God’s saints – his chasid (godly, faithful, devout ones) – to sing and give thanks to the Lord.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Remembrance of Holiness

But why should they sing and give thanks to God? The answer is – that the remembrance of God’s holiness is to stir this up in them.

Wait – you might think – God’s faithful followers were supposed to praise God because he killed Uzza?

Well, it’s not the death of Uzza itself that they were to focus on. Rather, it was the holy standard that God maintained through that unfortunate incident involving Uzza.

Psalm 30 Commentary
God’s Holiness in Chastisement

Have you ever experienced chastening at the Lord’s hand – and perhaps it was something devastating and shocking even? But you know it was the Lord’s merciful way of setting you back on the path from which you were straying?

The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians told that church that numerous of them were sick because they were abusing the Lord’s Table. In that way, they were not remembering God’s holiness.

God making believers sick? That’s shocking! Well, even more shocking is the indication that God caused some of those believers in Corinth to die because they did not regard God’s holiness – and that was manifested in the Lord’s Table and their abuse of it.

Yes, this can be shocking. And yet, it’s exactly how God deals with us at times. And it’s for our good – if we learn from it like David did. If you can get to the point where – instead of being bitter at God for the chastening – you and I are brought to the point where we can even invite others to praise the Lord for his holiness – the holiness which sometimes causes these shocking events.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 5

And I think this shocking event is still on David’s mind as he continues into verse 5.

5 For his anger endureth but a moment;
in his favour is life:

Or, rather mechanically, “For a moment in his anger, a lifetime in his goodwill/favor/acceptance.

weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Chastening

So, this is describing chastening from a loving God.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Contrasts

And notice the contrast once more – anger contrasted with favorA moment contrasted with lifeNight with morningWeeping with joy.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Weeping Lodges

Weeping is pictured as lodging overnight like Lot asked the angelic visitors to Sodom to lodge with him overnight.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Permanent vs. Temporary

We can view the holy actions and reactions of the Lord as so harsh and so permanent. No doubt David felt that way about the Lord’s dealings with Uzza as he left the ark in the house of Obed-Edom for three months.

And yet, really – for those who know and love God, it’s not the anger and the chastening that is permanent. No, that part is short and fleeting.

It’s God’s mercy that endures forever. It’s the life and the joy he gives that are permanent.

That’s what David experienced. It’s our experience too, and will be especially when we finally see our Savior Jesus Christ face to face.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 6

Now, David in verse 6 kind of takes a step back and reviews what led to him keeping the ark on the Philistine cart. In a word – it was his complacent pride.

6 And in my prosperity I said,
I shall never be moved.

Psalm 30 Commentary
And I

In the Hebrew text, and I is the first phrase – kind of emphasizing and drawing that out. The emphasis of that is probably something like “Now as for me” or “but as for me.” (Important because I said is already built with the first person singular pronoun. So, the extra is redundant.)

Psalm 30 Commentary
Prosperity

The word prosperity is used only once in OT and that’s here. Apparently it could also mean ease or even self-confidence.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Moved

When David speaks of not being moved he’s talking about not being shaken or caused to totter. Being steady and stable and unmovable.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Pride

David then is filling us in on the background of what caused him to be in danger at the hands of this holy God. It was his pride and self-reliance.

That’s what led David to think it was fine to do it his own way when it came to transporting the ark.

He was prosperous! He really felt as though he would never be shaken! The man was practically invincible – as far as he could tell!

But isn’t it in those times when we are most vulnerable to the pride that would necessitate God’s chastening work in our lives?

Psalm 30 Commentary
Affliction vs. Prosperity

There’s nothing like affliction to humble you and bring you low enough to the point where God can exalt you.

And there’s nothing like prosperity to dull your sense of the need of God in your life and make you ripe for God’s humbling of you.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 7

See our Psalm 30 7 Meaning article for information about what David means when he speaks of God causing his mountain to stand and hiding his face from David.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 8

And yet, this hiding and troubling that God does is only for a moment – as we just saw. Joy does come in the morning. But it takes getting seriously humble before the Lord before that joy can come.

And it’s that activity of humbling himself that David will tell us about in verse 8.

 8 I cried to thee, O LORD;
and unto the LORD I made supplication.

And a mechanical translation of this verse would go, “To Yahweh I called, and to Adonai I pled for grace/mercy/pity.

So, in reaction to the Lord hiding his face from David, David spoke to the Lord and asked him desperately for mercy.

This is the first step in getting yourself back in line with reality – to stop thinking of yourself as independently prosperous and to rather acknowledge your need of the Lord’s mercy.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 9

And as David was crying to the Lord concerning the situation with the ark and Uzza and what to think of it and how to move forward in light of it and all of that, he fills out for us what he said to the Lord. What does this “supplication” from verse 8 look like? He spells it out for us in verses 9 and 10.

 9 What profit is there in my blood,
when I go down to the pit?

Shall the dust praise thee?
shall it declare thy truth?

Psalm 30 Commentary
What Good my Death?

In other words, God doesn’t gain anything from David’s death. If God didn’t stop with Uzza but continued to strike down others – David included – David pleads with God – what good would that do?

Psalm 30 Commentary
Pit

Now, Pit is a different Hebrew word than we saw earlier in this psalm. It’s not sheol or bor but rather shachah. It’s yet another word for the place where dead bodies are laid.

Psalm 30 Commentary
No More Praise

So, if David dies, he doesn’t get to praise God in the land of the living. He looks forward in this life to declaring God’s truth or faithfulness to others. But this won’t happen if the Lord takes his life.

This is how David pled with the Lord for grace and mercy in light of his proud complacency that resulted in the death of someone else.

It’s like he’s thinking – Lord, don’t kill me like you killed Uzza. If you do, then I won’t be able to praise you. And that’s why I’m even bringing this ark to Jerusalem in the first place – to praise you. Don’t prevent me from doing what I know you deserve – even if I did it wrong.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 10

Well, David then continues his plea for mercy in verse 10.

 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me:
LORD, be thou my helper.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Mercy

Have mercy is the same word as I made supplication in verse 9. This then is still an excerpt of David’s prayer which began in verse 9.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Helper

Now, David asks God to be his helper. This request is recorded in this psalm. But the answer to this request is actually found in 1 Chronicles 15:26.

There we see the Levites taking the ark up to Jerusalem on poles – not a cart like David tried the first time. And it says there that the Levites were taking the ark up successfully and that they were moved to offer sacrifices to the Lord – because “God helped the Levites” – same word as we have here in our psalm.

So, David begged God to be his helper after the incident with Uzza. God answered by helping David and the Levites and the people bring the ark up to Jerusalem the right way.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 11

And because of God’s help, now we see in verse 11 David comes out of his recalling his prayer to the Lord and he joyfully praises the God who is his helper – and ours.

 11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing:
thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

Psalm 30 Commentary
From Supplication to Praise

So, David is done relating his prayer to the Lord and now gets back to praising God for his deliverance.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Contrasts

Note the contrasts again – mourning versus dancingputting off versus girding, and sackcloth versus gladness.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Mourning

The word mourning here is often used of the wailing that you’d hear at a funeral. And again the context gives this some significance. Because whose funeral had David witnessed recently at this point? Who died in the context of bringing the ark up to Jerusalem? Uzza. This kind of mourning would have taken place at Uzza’s funeral, no doubt.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Dancing

But no more of that! Now there’s dancing. And this is of course not some sort of sensual and sexual dancing – the kind that most pervades our current culture. No, this is what in Jeremiah is said to be the custom of young women as they played their tambourines. It’s innocent and joyful. You can have that kind of dancing.

It’s the kind of dancing that David himself performed when he was bringing the ark of the covenant into this house that he’s now dedicating in this psalm. His dancing was a kind of joyful leaping.

And he could do this because God had been merciful to him and allowed him to overcome his previous pride-driven mistake – and now there he is with the symbol of God’s presence rejoicing as he brings it into the house that he made for it.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Verse 12

And I think David still has in mind his dancing before the Lord as he enters verse 12. Why did the Lord answer David’s cry for help?

 12 To the end that [in order that…my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.

Psalm 30 Commentary
Glory

That word glory is used in 2 Samuel 6:20 sarcastically by Michal the daughter of Saul as she rebuked her husband the king for his exuberant dancing before the ark as it was entering Jerusalem.

She said “…How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!”

And now, I don’t believe that Michal was being accurate here. I think she’s exaggerating because her heart was not inclined to worship the Lord as her husband David’s was.

But, we learn here what David means when he says that his glory would sing praise to God and not be silent. He was going to sing and praise and rejoice and not hold back. Because God had been merciful to his proud sin and had restrained himself from taking David’s life.

So, let’s have reverent worship today. And also a worship that doesn’t hold back from God the praise that is due him. Let’s praise God with our glory today for his merciful saving power!

Psalm 30 Commentary
Concluding Praise

And the end of verse 12 is where David utters his concluding praise.

O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

How do we apply this psalm?

We don’t have an ark. But we do have God’s presence nonetheless – which was what the ark was all about, anyway.

God dwells in each of us and in the church corporately. The living God is among us today. He’s with us and in us every day – but is among us in a special way as we gather together as a body.

So, let’s do what we do today with reverence. Let’s not let our prosperity influence us toward pride. But rather, let’s worship the Lord with all we have for his special presence among us.

Psalm 29 11 Commentary

And finally, as we reach this Psalm 29 11 commentary, we have David’s concluding praise in verse 11.

11 The LORD will give strength unto his people;
the LORD will bless his people with peace.

Psalm 29 11 Commentary
Strength

We saw the word strength back in verse 1. There the heavenly beings were commanded to ascribe strength to the Lord.

The way that Canaanites portrayed Baal was often as a bull. What better animal to represent strength than a bull?

No doubt, the worshipers of Baal wanted to benefit from the strength that they believed this god could convey to them.

And yet, David corrects that way of thinking. It’s not Baal who will give strength. Rather, it’s the Lord – Yahweh who will give strength.

And not to Baal worshipers. But only to his people.

Psalm 29 11 Commentary
Peace

And followers of the Lord through the ages might feel like their life is depicted in this psalm. That is, you might feel like your life is just one huge, destructive, life-threatening storm. You see devastated forests, ominous flashing lightning, and such as a good description of your life.

Well, David reminds us that even though God is heard in the storm – the storm doesn’t control him. He controls the storm.

And because of that he can and does give his people peace – shalom. Even in the midst of the raging storm.

Return to our Psalm 29 Commentary.