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Psalm 32 In The Musaf

By Elie Nessim, August 23, 1997 Printer Friendly Version

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit there is no guile.
David is the author of these first two verses from Psalm 32. The title of the psalm reveals his purpose in writing.  It is ‘Maschil’, which roughly means ‘imparting wisdom’.  That means, of course, that a careful study of it will make us wiser, so with that note, let us begin our study.

It is a great thing to be forgiven by our fellow men.  Much more when we know that GOD has forgiven us.  Every year on Yom Kippur we seek this blessing from GOD as we confess our failures, and yet the best of us is not absolutely sure that we are forgiven, unless GOD Himself gives us that assurance.  It is recorded that one of our most famous Rabbis, Yochanan ben Zakkai, that he wept on his deathbed because he was unsure wether he had been forgiven.  If it was so with him, much more so with us, unless GOD gives us good reason to believe that our sin is covered. No wonder David sings of the blessedness of the forgiven soul.  What are some of the requirements for this blessing?  Does the Psalm teach us what we can do to qualify for it?  Thank GOD it does just that in a number of propositions!

The first is that the man is blessed to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.  That means a free pardon for the offender who has indeed done wrong, but who is freely forgiven.  To ‘impute’ means ‘to lay it to his account’.  In the case of the forgiven soul, his blessedness lies in not being charged with the guilt and penalty of his sin.  How can a just GOD do this and be holy?  The answer is that GOD has found another to pay the debt of the guilty soul! On Yom Kippur in the Musaf service, that is the additional afternoon service, GOD’s appointed sin-bearer is identified as the Messiah.  Let me read that prayer to you: Our righteous anointed is departed from us.  Horror hath seized us and we have none to justify us.  He hath borne the yoke of our iniquities and our transgression, and is wounded because of our transgression.  He beareth our sins on his shoulder, that he may find pardon for our iniquities.  We shall be healed by his wound at the time that the Eternal will created him, the Messiah, as a new creature.

For the sake of our Righteous Messiah, our sin may be covered.  But it still depends to a large extent on ourselves, and whether we are honest towards GOD about having our sin covered.  Blessed is the man in whose spirit is no guile, says the Psalm.  What is ‘guile’?  It is just another word for ‘dishonesty’.  Do we really mean to turn away from our sin?  Then we must confess it and turn away from it.  We must come clean, or GOD will not forgive as David found out (verses 3 and 4): When I kept silent, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.  For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.  Selah As long as he failed to confess to GOD, he had no peace and languished under the displeasure of GOD.  It was only when he brought himself to admit his wrongdoing that he found peace.  And what peace!  Even while he was resolving to do so, GOD was tendering a pardon.  He had only got as far as the decision; he had not actually done it, and already received mercy; (verse 5): 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.  We too shall find as David did that GOD delights in showing mercy to the truly repentant, and even anticipatesthem in their repentance.  David goes on to speak of the blessings that follows such a person in verse 6: For this shall everyone 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.

In other words, GOD lets Himself be found by those with godly intentions, and by contrast, He hides Himself from all those who seek to approach Him with guile.  Isaiah 55, verses 6 and 7: Seek ye the LORD while He may be found; call ye upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our GOD for He will abundantly pardon. The rest of the Psalm describes GOD as the hiding place of every trusting soul; their deliverer from trouble; and their instructor and guide in the way of life.  There is also the warning, verses 9 and 10, not to be stubborn or impetuous, and the sorrows that abide the wicked.  Would you care to know that you are forgiven?  GOD’s Word shows us the way, and there is no other.  It is found through our Messiah, who came to take our guilt away as is so eloquently described in the Yom Kippur Prayer Book: To him give all the Prophets witness that through his name, whoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sin. Shalom.

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