Psalm 32:5
I acknowledge my sin to you, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
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(5) I acknowledged.—The fact that this verb is future, as also “I will confess” in the next clause, as well as the requirements of the passage, uphold Hupfeld’s suggestion that “I said” has changed its place, and should be replaced at the beginning of the verse. (Comp. Psalm 73:15, and Note.) The sense is,

“I said, ‘I will acknowledge my sin unto thee,

And I did not hide mine iniquity.

(I said) ‘I will confess my transgression unto Jehovah,

And thou forgavest the guilt of my sin.”

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.I acknowledged my sin unto thee - That is, then I confessed my guilt. I had borne the dreadful pressure as long as I could. I had endeavored to conceal and suppress my conviction, but I found no relief. The anguish became deeper and deeper; my strength was failing; I was crushed under the intolerable burden, and when I could no longer bear it I went and made humble confession, and found relief. The verb used here is in the future tense, "I will acknowledge my sin;" but in order to a correct understanding of it, it should be regarded as referring to the state of mind at the time referred to in the psalm, and the resolution which the psalmist then formed. The words "I said" should be understood here. This he expresses in a subsequent part of the verse, referring doubtless to the same time. "I said," or I formed a resolution to this effect. The idea is, that he could find no relief in any other way. He could not banish these serious and troublous thoughts from his mind; his days and nights were spent in anguish. He resolved to go to God and to confess his sin, and to see what relief could be found by such an acknowledgment of guilt.

And mine iniquity have I not hid - That is, I did not attempt then to hide it. I made a frank, a full confession. I stated it all, without any attempt to conceal it; to apologise for it; to defend it. before, he had endeavored to conceal it, and it was crushing him to the earth. He now resolved to confess it all, and he found relief.

I said - I formed the resolution.

I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord - I will no longer attempt to hide them, or to suppress the convictions of guilt. I will seek the only proper relief by making confession of my sin, and by obtaining forgiveness. This resolution was substantially the same as that of the prodigal son: "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned," Luke 15:18.

And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin - He found that God was willing to pardon; he no sooner made confession than he obtained the evidence of pardon. "All the guilt," or the "iniquity" of his sin, was at once forgiven; and, as a consequence, he found peace. In what way he had evidence that his sin was forgiven he does not state. It may have been in his case by direct revelation, but it is more probable that he obtained this evidence in the same way that sinners do now, by the internal peace and joy which follows such an act of penitent confession. In regard to this, we may observe:

(a) The very act of making confession tends to give relief to the mind; and, in fact, relief never can be found when confession is not made.

(b) We have the assurance that when confession is made in a proper manner, God will pardon. See the notes at 1 John 1:9.

(c) When such confession is made, peace will flow into the soul; God will show himself merciful and gracious. The peace which follows from a true confession of guilt before God, proves that God "has" heard the prayer of the penitent, and has been merciful in forgiving his offences.

Thus, without any miracle, or any direct revelation, we may obtain evidence that our sins are washed away, which will give comfort to the soul.

5. A prompt fulfilment of the purposed confession is followed by a prompt forgiveness. 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. I acknowledged my sin unto thee,.... The sin of Adam, in which he was concerned; original sin, the corruption of his nature, the sin that dwelt in him, his private and secret sins, which none knew but God and himself; even all his sins, which were many, with all their aggravated circumstances; wherefore he uses various words to express them by, in this and the following clauses; as "sin", "iniquity", and "transgressions"; the same that are used in the doctrine of pardon in the preceding verses; his confession being of the same extent with pardon, and all these he calls his own; as nothing is more a man's own than his sins are; and these the psalmist acknowledged to the Lord; or "made", or "will make known" (p) to him: not that any sin is unknown to God, even the most secret ones; but they may be said to be made known to God, when a sinner makes a sincere and hearty acknowledgment of them before him, and expresses his own sense of them; how that they are with him, and ever before him, what knowledge rather he has of them, how much he is affected with them, and concerned for the commission of them; and such an acknowledgment the Lord expects and requires of his people, Jeremiah 3:12;

and mine iniquity have I not hid; by retaining it as a sweet morsel under his tongue; for he not only acknowledged it, but forsook it; or by not confessing it, as Achan; for not confessing sin is the of hiding it; or by denying it, as Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira; or by palliating and extenuating it; or by casting the blame on others, as did Adam and his wife; see Job 31:33; or by covering it with a guise of sanctify and religion;

I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; not unto men, though in some cases confession of sin is to be made to men; a confession of it in general is to be made to the churches, and administrators of ordinances, in order to admission into a church state, and to the ordinances of Christ, Matthew 3:6; and in case of private offences, faults are to be confessed one to another, and forgiveness granted; and in case of public offences, a confession should be made to a church publicly; partly for the satisfaction of the church, and partly for the glory of divine grace; but confession is not to be made to a priest, or to a person in a ministerial character, in order for absolution; but to the Lord only, against whom sin is committed, and who only can pardon it: and this the psalmist saith in his heart he would do, and did do it; he not only confessed facts, but the fault of them, with their evil circumstances, and that he justly deserved punishment for them; and this he did from his heart, with abhorrence of the sins committed by him, and in faith, with a view to the pardoning mercy of God in Christ;

and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. That is, either the guilt of his sin, which he took away from him; or the punishment of it, which he delivered him from: moreover, this phrase may denote the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and so may both express the sense which the psalmist had of it, and exalt the grace of God in the forgiveness of it; by which must be meant a fresh manifestation and application of pardon to his soul: now, when confession of sin, and remission of it, are thus put together, the sense is not that confession of sin is the cause of pardon; it is not the moving cause of it, that is the grace and mercy of God; nor the procuring and meritorious cause of it, that is the blood of Christ: it is not for the sake of a sinner's confession of sin, but for Christ's sake, that sin is forgiven; but this is the way in which it is enjoyed; and such as truly repent of sin, and sincerely confess it, are the persons to whom the Lord manifests his forgiving love; such may expect it, Proverbs 28:13.

Selah; on this word; see Gill on Psalm 3:2.

(p) "cognoscere feci te", Pagninus, Montanus; so Musculus, Vatablus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, & Gejerus, to the same purport.

I {e} 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.

(e) He shows that as God's mercy is the only cause of forgiveness of sins, so the means of it are repentance and confession which proceed from faith.

5. The way of restoration. Lit. I began to make known to thee my sin, and mine iniquity did I not cover. The tense of the first verb graphically represents the confession being made (Psalm 25:8, note): the second verb is the same as that in Psalm 32:1. Not until man ceases to hide his sin will it be hidden from God. “Quantum tibi non peperceris,” says Tertullian, quoted by Abp. Leighton, “tantum tibi parcet Deus.” “The less you spare yourself, the more will God spare you.”

and thou forgavest] Thou is emphatic, and the form of the sentence expresses the immediateness of the pardon. “Vox nondum est in ore et vulnus sanatur.” St Augustine.

The musical interlude may have expressed the joy of forgiveness, and served to separate this record of experience from the application which follows.Verse 5. - I acknowledged my sin unto thee (comp. 2 Samuel 12:13). Conscience once fully awakened, all reticence was broken down. David confessed his sin fully and freely - confessed it as "sin," as "transgression," and as "iniquity" (compare the comment on ver. 1). And mine iniquity have I not hid; rather, did I not hide. I did not attempt to gloss over or conceal the extent of my guilt, but laid my soul bare before thee. Hengstenberg well remarks that the psalmist is probably not speaking of a "making known by the mouth," but of "an inward confession, such as is accompanied with painful repentance and sorrow, with begging of pardon for sin and for the offence rendered to the Divine Majesty." I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Upon David's confession, whether it were inward or outward, followed without any interval God's forgiveness - forgiveness which, however, did not preclude the exaction of a penalty required for the justification of God's ways to man (2 Samuel 12:14), and also, perhaps, for proper impressing of the offender himself, who would have been less sensible of the heinousness of his sin, if it had gone unpunished. (Heb.: 31:20-25) In this part well-grounded hope expands to triumphant certainty; and this breaks forth into grateful praise of the goodness of God to His own, and an exhortation to all to wait with steadfast faith on Jahve. The thought: how gracious hath Jahve been to me, takes a more universal form in Psalm 31:20. It is an exclamation (מה, as in Psalm 36:8) of adoring admiration. טוּב יהוה is the sum of the good which God has treasured up for the constant and ever increasing use and enjoyment of His saints. צפן is used in the same sense as in Psalm 17:14; cf. τὸ μάννα τὸ κεκρυμμένον, Revelation 2:17. Instead of פּעלתּ it ought strictly to be נתתּ; for we can say פּעל טּוב, but not פּעל טוּב. What is meant is, the doing or manifesting of טּוב springing from this טוּב, which is the treasure of grace. Jahve thus makes Himself known to His saints for the confounding of their enemies and in defiance of all the world besides, Psalm 23:5. He takes those who are His under His protection from the רכסי אישׁ, confederations of men (from רכס, Arab. rks, magna copia), from the wrangling, i.e., the slanderous scourging, of tongues. Elsewhere it is said, that God hides one in סתר אהלו (Psalm 27:5), or in סתר כּנפיו (Psalm 61:5), or in His shadow (צל, Psalm 91:1); in this passage it is: in the defence and protection of His countenance, i.e., in the region of the unapproachable light that emanates from His presence. The סכּה is the safe and comfortable protection of the Almighty which spans over the persecuted one like an arbour or rich foliage. With בּרוּך ה David again passes over to his own personal experience. The unity of the Psalm requires us to refer the praise to the fact of the deliverance which is anticipated by faith. Jahve has shown him wondrous favour, inasmuch as He has given him a עיר מצור as a place of abode. מצור, from צוּר to shut in (Arabic misr with the denominative verb maṣṣara, to found a fortified city), signifies both a siege, i.e., a shutting in by siege-works, and a fortifying (cf. Psalm 60:11 with Psalm 108:11), i.e., a shutting in by fortified works against the attack of the enemy, 2 Chronicles 8:5. The fenced city is mostly interpreted as God Himself and His powerful and gracious protection. We might then compare Isaiah 33:21 and other passages. But why may not an actual city be intended, viz., Ziklag? The fact, that after long and troublous days David there found a strong and sure resting-place, he here celebrates beforehand, and unconsciously prophetically, as a wondrous token of divine favour. To him Ziklag was indeed the turning-point between his degradation and exaltation. He had already said in his trepidation (חפז, trepidare), cf. Psalm 116:11 : I am cut away from the range of Thine eyes. נגרזתּי is explained according to גּרזן, an axe; Lamentations 3:54, נגרזתּי, and Jonah 2:5, נגרשׁתּי, favour this interpretation. He thought in his fear and despair, that God would never more care about him. אכן, verum enim vero, but Jahve heard the cry of his entreaty, when he cried unto Him (the same words as in Psalm 28:2). On the ground of these experiences he calls upon all the godly to love the God who has done such gracious things, i.e., to love Love itself. On the one hand, He preserves the faithful (אמוּנים, from אמוּן equals אמוּן, πιστοί, as in Psalm 12:2), who keep faith with Him, by also proving to them His faithfulness by protection in every danger; on the other hand, not scantily, but plentifully (על as in Isaiah 60:7; Jeremiah 6:14 : κατὰ περισσείαν) He rewardeth those that practise pride-in the sight of God, the Lord, the sin of sins. An animating appeal to the godly (metamorphosed out of the usual form of the expression חזק ואמץ, macte esto), resembling the animating call to his own heart in Psalm 27:14, closes the Psalm. The godly and faithful are here called "those who wait upon Jahve." They are to wait patiently, for this waiting has a glorious end; the bright, spring sun at length breaks through the dark, angry aspect of the heavens, and the esto mihi is changed into halleluja. This eye of hope patiently directed towards Jahve is the characteristic of the Old Testament faith. The substantial unity, however, of the Old Testament order of grace, or mercy, with that of the New Testament, is set before us in Psalm 32:1-11, which, in its New Testament and Pauline character, is the counterpart of Psalm 19:1-14.
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