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From the Preacher’s Pen…

Several of the Psalms are described as a Maskil. The word seems to be derived from a verb denotating to be wise. Thus the meaning suggests a contemplative or thoughtful Psalm such that considering and obeying it will make us wise.

The term is used in superscriptions (usually labeled verse 0) of Psalms 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89 and 142, as well as within Psalm 47 (verse 7). Let’s take a look at the very first usage and see what is so important that God is suggesting we think seriously about:

The Blessing of Forgiveness – Psalm 32

0 A Psalm of David. A Maskil.

1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. 6 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. 9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.

Perhaps one of the first questions we should ask is: What was the occasion that brought David to write this Psalm? It is clearly a psalm about sin and forgiveness and many claim that it is simply one of David’s psalms after his sin with Bathsheba. Others suggest Psalm 32 is related to David’s movement of the Ark of the Covenant, the time of Absalom’s rebellion or his ill-conceived census of the nation.

What we do know for certain is that David wrote seven psalms known as penitential, repenting of sin (Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143). In each case he is struggling with one or more sins in his life that, as all sins do, has brought despair and sickness to body and soul.

Sin will do that, you know! And, as David so well points out for us, the only cure for sin is getting it out, confession that it might be forgiven.

Paul uses this Psalm in Romans 7 to remind us that forgiveness of sin is not because of anything wonderful that we do, but because of our great God. David fully agrees!

Forgiveness is healing that we all desperately need. And David closes with some important advice for us to learn:

Don’t be like a dumb animal. And don’t be like a dumb, wicked human, either. As Paul would put it to the Corinthian church, Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because your sadness led to repentance; for you were made sad as God intended, so that in nothing you suffered loss by us. For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret; but worldly sadness produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)

When sin comes into our lives, as it will do for every one of us, our only hope is to turn to the Lord. For those that persist in sin, there is only the insult of stupidity. For those that repent and return to God, there is love, joy and rejoicing.

Never make fun of those who repent. For they are doing exactly what we must all do if we are to be right with our Lord. And, above all else, may we learn to appreciate, to treasure and be ever grateful for the blessing of forgiveness! Again, the choice is ours. What will you choose?

— Lester P. Bagley