The Happiness of Forgiveness (Psalm 32) [Penitential Psalms]

Psalm 32:1-11; 1

"How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!" (Ps 32:1, HCSB)

This is the second of the seven "penitential psalms" (Psalm 6, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). Psalm 32 can be considered in four parts:
  1. Forgiveness: The joy of forgiveness (1-2).
  2. Silence: The curse of silence (3-4).
  3. Confession: The wisdom of confession (5-7).
  4. Trust: The exhilaration of trust (8-11).

  1. Motyer, J Alec. The Psalms. New Bible Commentary. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1994. Psalm 32 - Groaning or praying?: It may belong to the time of David's adultery with Bathsheba. If it does, Ps 32:3-4 reveal David burdened by a guilty conscience and Ps 32:5 corresponds to 2 Sa 12:13. What this psalm affirms is that a prayer of confession brings instantaneous forgiveness.
    1. The blessedness of sin forgiven (1-2).
    2. Groaning replaced by confession (3-5).
    3. Prayer is the answer for everyone (6-9).
    4. Unfailing love surrounds the trustful (10-11).
  2. Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1 - 72: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1973. Psalm 32 - Joy of Forgiveness: To be in close accord with God is true happiness: This is the constant theme of the psalm.
    1. Sin forgiven (1-2).
    2. The deadlock broken (3-5).
    3. The only haven (6-7).
    4. The lesson to be learned (8-9).
    5. The only happiness (10-11).
  3. Psalm 32 - The Blessedness Of Confessing Sin.
    1. The joy of forgiveness (1-2).
    2. The curse of silence (3-4).
    3. The benefit of confession (5-7).
    4. The value of trust (8-11).
  4. Zemek, George. Road Maps for the Psalms: Inductive Preaching Outlines Based on the Hebrew Text. Valencia, CA: The Master's Academy International, 2006. Psalm 32
    1. Lessons are remembered (1-5)
    2. Lessons are relayed (6-11)
  5. ESV Study Bible:
    1. The Doctrine: Only the Forgiven Are Truly Happy (1-5).
    2. Application: Confess Our Sins Freely (6-11).
  6. Titles from the Catholic Study Bible of each Psalm (cf. WL sermon titles) [ESV]:
    1. The Happiness in God's Law. (The Secret of Happiness.) [The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked.]
    2. A Psalm for a Royal Coronation. (God's King Reigns.) [The Reign of the Lord's Anointed.]
    3. Threatened but Trusting. (Confident Before Many Foes.) [Save Me, O My God.]
    4. Trust in God. (Peace Under Pressure.) [Answer Me When I Call.]
    5. Prayer for Divine Help. (Joy Amid Liars.) [Lead Me in Your Righteousness.]
    6. Prayer in Distress. (Barely Able To Pray.) [O Lord, Deliver My Life.]
    7. God the Vindicator. [In You Do I Take Refuge.]
    8. Divine Majesty and Human Dignity. [How Majestic Is Your Name.]
    9. -10. Thanksgiving for Victory and Prayer for Justice. [I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds; Why Do You Hide Yourself?]
The seven Penitential Psalms:
  • 6: Prayer in Distress. (Barely Able To Pray.) [O Lord, Deliver My Life.]
  • 32: Remission of Sin. [Blessed Are the Forgiven.]
  • 38: Prayer of an Afflicted Sinner. [Do Not Forsake Me, O Lord.]
  • 51: The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance. [Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God.]
  • 102: Prayer in Time of Distress. [Do Not Hide Your Face from Me.]
  • 130: Prayer for Pardon and Mercy. [My Soul Waits for the Lord.]
  • 143: A Prayer in Distress. [My Soul Thirsts for You.]