|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
32:3-7 It is very difficult to bring sinful man humbly to accept free mercy, with a full confession of his sins and self-condemnation. But the true and only way to peace of conscience, is, to confess our sins, that they may be forgiven; to declare them that we may be justified. Although repentance and confession do not merit the pardon of transgression, they are needful to the real enjoyment of forgiving mercy. And what tongue can tell the happiness of that hour, when the soul, oppressed by sin, is enabled freely to pour forth its sorrows before God, and to take hold of his covenanted mercy in Christ Jesus! Those that would speed in prayer, must seek the Lord, when, by his providence, he calls them to seek him, and, by his Spirit, stirs them up to seek him. In a time of finding, when the heart is softened with grief, and burdened with guilt; when all human refuge fails; when no rest can be found to the troubled mind, then it is that God applies the healing balm by his Spirit.
Verse 3. - When I kept silence; i.e. so long as I did not acknowledge my sin - while I remained silent about it, quite aware that I hod sinned grievously, suffering in conscience, but not confessing it even to myself. The time spoken of is that which immediately followed the commission of the adultery, and which continued until Nathan uttered the words, "Thou art the man!" (2 Samuel 12:7). My bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long; i.e. I suffered grievous pain, both bodily and mental. My bones ached (comp. Psalm 6:2; Psalm 31:10); and I "roared," or groaned, in spirit, all the day long." Unconfessed sin rankles in the heart of a man who is not far gone in vice, but has been surprised into a wicked action, no sooner done than regretted. Such a one, in Archbishop Leighton's words, "Vulnus alit venis et caeco carpitur igne."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
When I kept silence,.... Was unthoughtful of sin, unconcerned about it, and made no acknowledgment and confession of it to God, being quite senseless and stupid; the Targum adds, "from the words of the law"; which seems to point at sin as the cause of what follows;
my bones waxed old; through my roaring all the day long; not under a sense of sin, but under some severe affliction, and through impatience in it; not considering that sin lay at the bottom, and was the occasion of it; and such was the violence of the disorder, and his uneasiness under it, that his strength was dried up by it, and his bones stuck out as they do in aged persons, whose flesh is wasted away from them; see Psalm 102:3.
The Treasury of David
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 acknowledge 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.
David now gives us his own experience; no instructor is so efficient as one who testifies to what he has personally known and felt. He writes well who like the spider spills his matter out of his own bowels.
"When I kept silence." When through neglect I failed to confess, or through despair dared not to do so, "my bones," those solid pillars of my frame, the strongest portions of my bodily constitution, "waxed old," began to decay with weakness, for my grief was so intense as to sap my health and destroy my vital energy. What a killing thing is sin! It is a pestilent disease! A fire in the bones! While we smother our sin it rages within, and like a gathering wound swells horribly and torments terribly. "Through my roaring all the day long." He was silent as to confession, but not as to sorrow. Horror at his great guilt, drove David to incessant laments, until his voice was no longer like the articulate speech of man, but so full of sighing and groaning, that it resembled the hoarse roaring of a wounded beast. None know the pangs of conviction but those who have endured them. The rack, the wheel, the flaming fagot are ease compared with the Tophet which a guilty conscience kindles within the breast: better suffer all the diseases which flesh is heir to, than lie under the crushing sense of the wrath of almighty God. The Spanish inquisition with all its tortures was nothing to the inquest which conscience holds within the heart.
"For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me." God's finger can crush us - what must his hand be, and that pressing heavily and continuously! Under terrors of conscience, men have little rest by night, for the grim thoughts of the day dog them to their chambers and haunt their dreams, or else they lie awake in a cold sweat of dread. God's hand is very helpful when it uplifts, but it is awful when it presses down: better a world on the shoulder, like Atlas, than God's hand on the heart, like David. "My moisture is turned into the drought of summer." The sap of his soul was dried, and the body through sympathy appeared to be bereft of its needful fluids. The oil was almost gone from the lamp of life, and the flame flickered as though it would soon expire. Unconfessed transgression, like a fierce poison, dried up the fountain of the man's strength, and made him like a tree blasted by the lightning, or a plant withered by the scorching heat of a tropical sun. Alas! for a poor soul when it has learned its sin but forgets its Saviour, it goes hard with it indeed. "Selah." It was time to change the tune, for the notes are very low in the scale, and with such hard usage, the strings of the harp are out of order: the next verse will surely be set to another key, or will rehearse a more joyful subject.
"I acknowledged my sin unto thee." After long lingering, the broken heart bethought itself of what it ought to have done at the first, and laid bare its bosom before the Lord. The lancet must be let into the gathering ulcer before relief can be afforded. The least thing we can do, if we would be pardoned, is to acknowledge our fault; if we are too proud for this we doubly deserve punishment. "And mine iniquity have I not hid." We must confess the guilt as well as the fact of sin. It is useless to conceal it, for it is well known to God; it is beneficial to us to own it, for a full confession softens and humbles the heart. We must as far as possible unveil the secrets of the soul, dig up the hidden treasure of Achan, and by weight and measure bring out our sins. "I said." This was his fixed resolution. "I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord." Not to my fellow men or to the high priest, but unto Jehovah; even in those days of symbol the faithful looked to God alone for deliverance from sin's intolerable load, much more now, when types and shadows have vanished at the appearance of the dawn. When the soul determines to lay low and plead guilty, absolution is near at hand; hence we read, "And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin." Not only was the sin itself pardoned, but the iniquity of it; the virus of its guilt was put away, and that at once, so soon as the acknowledgment was made. God's pardons are deep and thorough' the knife of mercy cuts at the roots of the ill weed of sin. "Selah." Another pause is needed, for the matter is not such as may be hurried over:
"Pause, my soul, adore and wonder,
Ask, O why such love to me?
Grace has put me in the number
Of the Saviour's family.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3, 4. A vivid description of felt, but unacknowledged, sin.
When—literally, "for," as in Ps 32:4.
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