January 15 2023
Today, Sunday January 15
Shelah – Think About That!
A Psalm of David. A Maschil or a Contemplation
“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 deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah"
We see from the title that David is the writer of this Psalm. Also, from the title we learn that this is a Maschil Psalm. Some scholars put this Psalm in the category of the penitential psalms. But others believe that it is a Maschil psalm, the first of thirteen such teaching psalms in the Hebrew hymnbook. (see Psalms 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, 142).
The word Maschil has been interpreted in many ways: "a skillful song, a song of instruction, a contemplative poem." The word means "instruction" and is translated that way in verse 8. However, Maschil may be a musical direction, the meaning of which is still unknown. This psalm is used by our Jewish friends at the close of the annual Day of Atonement; and on the church calendar, it's assigned to be read on Ash Wednesday. Paul quoted verses 1-2 in Romans 4:7-8 as part of his argument for salvation by grace alone, apart from the works of the law.
If anyone could teach us and instruct us about the consequences of sin, the guilt and burden of sin, and the weight of unconfessed sin, it would be David! Ask him! David is such a help to us in this prevalent and personal matter of sin because he, himself, was such a great sinner. For although David was one of the greatest saints of Scripture and one of the greatest sages of Scripture and one of the greatest sovereigns of Scripture, he was also one of the greatest sinners of Scripture. He sinned with a highhanded rebellion and with a depth of cunning and duplicity which would astonish us did we not know the wickedness of our own hearts.
David was a haunted man after he had seduced the wife of his most loyal soldier and arranged with Joab for the murder of the man himself. For the best part of a year, David put up a bold front and tried to cover it up, hid it, and ignore it. Then God sent Nathan the prophet to publicly accuse and condemn the king. When Nathan saw the tears of repentance flow, he then gave David the promise of forgiveness. Like the lancing of a boil, it brought immediate relief. At once David wrote Psalm 51 in which he promised he would teach transgressors God's ways (Psalm 51:13). David kept his promise by writing Psalm 32.
From his own bitter experience David intends in Psalm 32 to set forth a sermon in song on the nature of sin, what happens when it is concealed, and what happens when it is confessed, cleansed, and conquered. Three times David uses that significant word, selah! Which means, "There! what do you think of that?"
First, there is Conviction! "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old... my vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah." (vv. 3-4).
Then, there is Confession! “I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” (v. 5)
Last, there is Confidence! “You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” (v. 7)
Conviction! Confession! Confidence! Think about that!
Psalm 32 is both a sermon and a song. It is my prayer today that we will find this same wonderful forgiveness for our sins as we acknowledge and confess them.