“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity” (Psalm 32:1,2).
It is unfortunate that the mention of David reminds us too often of his sins and not his victories. Most people think “David and Bathsheba” rather than “David and Goliath.” Perhaps this says more about us than it does about David! The tragic background of both Psalm 32 and 51 is David’s sin with Bathsheba, his unsuccessful attempts to hide it, and then his confession and God’s forgiveness of the king (2 Samuel 11,12). This one event was an ugly blemish on an otherwise faithful life (1 Kings 15:5).
Psalm 32 records the experiences that David went through as he faced his sins, confessed them, and received God’s free forgiveness. How is a righteous God able to forgive guilty sinners? Paul explains this miracle of grace in Romans 4, and he quotes Psalm 32:1,2 as part of his argument. Three words are important: “forgiven,” “covered,” and “imputed.”
The word forgive means “to lift and carry away.” It reminds us of the annual Day of Atonement in the Hebrew calendar (Leviticus 16), when the high priest “laid the sins” of the nation on the head of the scapegoat, and the goat was taken away into the wilderness to be seen no more. This pointed figuratively to Jesus, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
The word covered simply means “concealed, out of sight.” David tried to cover his own sin with deceit, and yet he was found out. When God covers our sins, they are gone forever. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). The blood of Jesus Christ does not simply cover sin; it cleanses sin (1 John 1:7-9).
The word impute is a financial term; it means “to put to one’s account.” After all, what good is it if, after God wipes the record clean, we sin again and He starts a new record? David rejoiced because God would never again keep a record of his sins. Paul made it clear in Romans 4 that the person who trusts Jesus Christ is fully and finally forgiven, the record is made clean, and no record will ever be kept of his sins.
How is this possible? Through the wonderful and perfect transaction on Calvary. On the cross, all of our sins were put to Christ’s account. He was made sin for us (1 Peter 2:24). And, when we trusted Jesus Christ, His righteousness was put on our account! “He [the Father] hath made Him [the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). This dual transaction makes our forgiveness and salvation possible.
Forgiveness, then, is not cheap, even though it is free. David knew that no amount of expensive sacrifices could take away his sins (Psalm 51:16,17). Our own good works, or even our good intentions, can never solve the sin question. Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice, had to die for the sins of the world. It is on the basis of that one perfect sacrifice that God can meet the sinner and forgive his sins.
—From Meet Yourself in the Psalms by Warren W. Wiersbe.
Cover up your sins, and God will uncover them in judgment. Uncover your sins, and God will cover them in grace. —A.J.P.