“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Ps. 32:1-2). One would be hard pressed to find words that held more truth. The one whose sins and transgressions are forgiven by the Almighty is the one who is saved from the eternal death in hell which are the just wages of his sins (Rom. 6:23a). The one against whom no iniquity is counted by Jehovah is the one who has received the free gift of God which is eternal life in Christ (Rom. 6:23b). That man is truly “blessed,” ‘ešer in Hebrew, literally “happy.” His happiness knows no bounds when he contemplates with understanding the enormity both of what God has saved him from and what God has as his eternal reward.
What kind of person would receive such happiness and blessings? David wrote that “there is no deceit” in the “spirit” of such a one (v. 2b). This is key. Consider the implications of this by comparing this passage with what James wrote to Christians centuries later: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). How is the Christian who darkens the church assembly doors every Sunday, sits in the pews, says “Amen” at the appropriate times, sings the hymns, partakes of communion, and gives a weekly offering “deceiving (himself)” if he is one who does much hearing of the pulpit’s message but little applying of it to his life throughout the week? Answer: there is little to no actual repentance of his sins in this man’s life…and yet he, if asked, would sincerely answer that he is a faithful disciple of Christ because, after all, “I go to church all the time.” James would say this man is deceiving himself. David would agree, saying that there is much “deceit” in his “spirit,” specifically deceit aimed at himself.
On the contrary, the man “whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered,” the one “against whom the Lord counts no iniquity” is, by definition and biblical requirement, a penitent man; such a man, by definition and biblical requirement, must be a “doer of the word, and not (a) hearer only,” and thus would not “deceive (himself).” In this person’s spirit “there is no deceit.”
The penitent man has to repent because of the pain his sins have caused him. David described it this way: “For when I kept silent, my bones 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” (Ps. 32:3-4). Paul understood what David was talking about here; he would call it “godly grief (which) produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret” (2 Cor. 7:10a), describing this “godly grief” as being filled with “earnestness…(an) eagerness to clear yourselves…indignation…fear…longing…zeal…punishment” (v. 11), traits very similar to how David described the pain he went through that led to his repentance.
As he described it: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5). John would agree; he put it this way: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:6-9). The man “in whose spirit there is no deceit,” the one “whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered,” is the Christian who penitently confesses his sins to God in prayer.
As David said, “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters they shall not reach him” (v. 6). When we seek God with a penitent heart, we will find him and the forgiveness we seek (1 Chr. 28:9; Matt. 7:7; Prov. 8:17). The flood of our sins will not drown us because through our penitence we serve a God of grace who is greater than our sins. This is why David’s description of the Almighty is very true: “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble” (v. 7).
The final four verses of Psalm 32 seem to switch from David’s point of view to the Lord’s. He says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (v. 8). God instructs those who fear him and shows them the right path, the path to eternal life (Ps. 25:12; Matt. 7:13-14). Yet he will not force his instruction upon us. The choice to obey is up to us. This is why Jehovah pleads with us, “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you” (v. 9). The stubborn man is the epitome of the one in whose spirit there IS deceit, because the one who stubbornly stays married to his sins deceives himself greatly. The result? “Many are the sorrows of the wicked…” (v. 10a), both in this life and especially in eternity.
How thankful we should be that the opposite is true for the one whose sins and iniquities are covered by the mercies of the Lord! As the Psalm puts it, “…but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord” (v. 10b). “The one who trusts in the Lord,” according to James, is the one whose faith is proven to be alive rather than dead through his works of obedience to God (James 2:14-26). This is the one who receives mercy in spite of his sins. This is the one who can sing the final verse of this Psalm with total agreement: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (v. 11)
Yes indeed, there are many blessings that come with grace and repentance!