Matthew Poole's Commentary
A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.Maschil; or, an instructor. This Psalm is most fitly so called, because it was composed for the information of the church, in that most important doctrine, concerning the way to true blessedness.
They are blessed whose sins are forgiven, Psalm 32:1,2. Confession of sins giveth ease to the conscience, Psalm 32:3-7. God’s promise to them that trust in him, Psalm 32:8-11.
I did indeed say that they, and they only, were blessed, that did
not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, & c., but did delight in and meditate on God’s law, Psalm 1:1,2. And it is true, this is the only way to blessedness. But if inquiry be made into the cause of man’s blessedness, we must seek that elsewhere. All men having sinned and made themselves guilty before God, and fallen short of the glory of God, and of that happiness which was conferred upon their first parents, now there is no way to recover this lost felicity, but by seeking and obtaining the favour of God, and the pardon of our sins; which is the very doctrine of the gospel; to the confirmation whereof this text is justly alleged, Romans 4:6,7. Our sins are debts, and they need forgiving; they are filthy and abominable in God’s sight, and need covering.
Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.Whom God doth not charge with the guilt of his sins, as he might justly do, but graciously accepts and pardons him in Christ, and deals with him as if he had not sinned.
In whose spirit there is no guile; who freely confesseth all his sins without dissembling and concealing of them; which may seem to be the main thing here intended, by comparing this with the following verses; and who is sincere in his professions of repentance, turning from sin to God with all his heart, and not feignedly.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.When I kept silence, to wit, from a full and open confession of my sins, as appears from Psalm 32:5, and from pouring out my soul to God in serious and fervent prayers for pardon and peace. Whilst I concealed my sins, or smothered my fears, and, stifled the workings of my own conscience.
My bones waxed old; my spirits failed, and the strength of my body decayed:
Through my roaring all the day long; because of the continual horrors of my conscience, and sense of God’s wrath, wherewith I was as yet rather oppressed and overwhelmed, than brought to thorough repentance.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.Thy hand; thy afflicting hand bringing my sins to remembrance, and filling me with thy terrors for them. My very radical moisture was in a manner dried up, and wasted through excessive fears and sorrows.
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.At last I took up a full resolution, that I would no longer daily nor deal deceitfully with God, nor vainly seek to hide my sins from the all-seeing God, but that I would openly and candidly confess and bewail all my sins with all their aggravations, and humbly implore the pardon of them.
The iniquity of my sin, i.e. the guilt of my sin. Or, Thou didst take away the punishment (as this Hebrew word oft signifies) of my sin; or, my exceeding sinful sin; two words signifying the same thing, being here put together by way of aggravation, according to the manner of the Hebrews.
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.For this, i.e. upon the encouragement of my example, and thy great mercy vouchsafed to me, in answer to my humble confession and supplication.
In a time when thou mayest be found, Heb. in the time of finding thee; the pronoun thee being easily and fitly repeated out of the next foregoing clause, i.e. while he may be found, as it is expressed, Isaiah 55:6, or while he is near, Psalm 69:13, in an acceptable and seasonable time, while God continues to offer grace and mercy to sinners, before the decree bring forth, Zephaniah 2:2, and sentence be passed or executed upon them. By which clause he seems to intimate the difference between the godly, who pray and cry earnestly to God for mercy in its season; and the wicked, who will do so when it is too late, and the season is lost. In the floods of great. waters, i.e. in the time of great calamities, which are frequently compared to great waters. They shall not come nigh unto him, to wit, so as to overwhelm or hurt him. Or God will set him in a high and safe place, out of the reach of them, as he provided an ark for Noah when the deluge came; to which peradventure he alludes in this place.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.i.e. With such great deliverances on all sides, as will give just occasion to sing forth thy praises.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.This and the next verse are the words, either,
1. Of God; whom David brings in as returning this answer to his prayers, and the profession of his trust in God. Or rather,
2. Of David himself; who having received singular favours from God, and having declared what the godly would do upon that occasion, Psalm 32:6, he now undertakes to instruct the wicked what they should do; which he doth, partly to express his thankfulness to God for delivering himself, and his, zeal to advance the honour and service of God in the world; partly, as an act of justice, that he might make some amends to those whom he had injured, and provoke them to repentance, whom by his sins he had scandalized, and either drawn to sin, or encouraged and hardened in sin, which he was obliged and did promise to do upon this or the like occasion, Psalm 51:13; and partly, for the discharge of his office and duty, as he was both a king and a prophet, and a good man; in all which capacities he was obliged to endeavour the conversion and salvation of sinners.
Thee; thee, O sinner, whosoever thou art, who hast no understanding, but art a wicked man, as the two following verses explain it. He speaks this to the generality of impenitent sinners, as the next verse shows, which begins in the plural number, Be not ye, &c.; only he expresseth it here singularly, as appealing and applying himself particularly to the conscience of every individual person, which he thought the most effectual way of proceeding, as he had found in himself, when Nathan applied his indefinite discourse to him, saying, Thou art the man.
In the way which thou shalt go, i.e. in which thou oughtest to walk; the future tense oft noting a man’s duty, as Genesis 20:9 Malachi 1:6.
I will guide thee with mine eye; I will lend thee the eyes of my mind. Or, I will be to thee instead of eyes, as the phrase is, Numbers 10:31, to advise, and direct, and caution thee; which I am able to do, not only by those gifts and graces which God hath given me, but also from my own experience. I will guide thee as the rider doth his horse, to which the person to be guided is compared, Psalm 32:9; or as a master doth his scholar; or as a guide doth him who knoweth not the right way. Or the words may be thus rendered, I will give thee counsel, mine eye shall be upon thee, as it is more fully expressed, Genesis 44:21 Jeremiah 24:6 40:4, i.e. I will watch over thee, and instruct or admonish thee, as I have occasion.
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.Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule; be not such brutish and sottish creatures as I have been, not having reason or grace to govern yourselves, nor hearkening to the counsels and admonitions of others. Lest they come near unto thee; lest they should come too near to thee, so as to bite or kick thee. But neither is this the common practice of horses or mules, of which he seems to speak; nor is this the proper use of a bit or bridle, to keep them from so doing; but rather to bring them nearer to the rider for his use, and to keep them under his conduct and power, from whom they are otherwise apt to run away. The words therefore are and may be otherwise rendered, because they do not or will not come near unto thee, to wit, for thy service, unless they be forced to it by a bit or bridle. And so all the ancient translators understand it.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: this is an argument to enforce the foregoing admonition; if any men will be refractory and unruly, God hath many ways to curb and chastise them, and bring them to his will.
He that trusteth in the Lord; who relies upon his providence and promise for his preservation and deliverance, and commits himself to God’s care and conduct, waiting upon him in his way, and not turning aside to crooked or sinful paths for safety or satisfaction.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.No text from Poole on this verse.