In 2019, Time magazine ran an online poll asking participants, “What are your major sources of happiness?” The top four answers all involved relationships. Having and maintaining healthy relationships with children, friends, and family were considered key components of happiness for most people.
In Psalm 32, David highlights the importance of another relationship as a key to happiness. He declares “blessed” or “happy” are those whose “transgressions are forgiven” (v. 1). The first two verses of this psalm reflect a profound understanding of the nature of sin and forgiveness. David uses three different Hebrew words for sin, here translated as “transgressions . . . sins . . . sin” (vv. 1–2). The first term reflects intentional, or high-handed sin. The second word is the most general term for wrongdoing either intentional or unintentional. The third term references the guilt associated with sin (v. 2).
These three terms for sin are matched by three metaphors for forgiveness. The verb “forgiven” literally means “to carry” (v. 1). That is, our sin is like a burden we cannot bear. Someone must carry it for us. Second, David declares blessed the person whose sins are “covered” (v. 1). Finally, sin is pictured as a debt that is canceled (v. 2). In sum, the blessed person is not the one who never sins. Rather, they are the kind of person who has sinned, but whose burden of that sin has been carried off by God.
In verses 3–5, David recounts a time when he tried to hide his sin. This led to a crushing sense of guilt and shame (v. 4). Finally, he confessed his sin to God and received forgiveness and relief (v. 5). He instructed others to follow his example. Joy and peace are to be found in the confession of sin and receiving of forgiveness.
Take a few minutes today and reflect on your own life. Do you have unconfessed sin? First Peter 2:24 tells us, “He [Jesus] bore our sins in his body on the cross.” If you confess your sin to God, He is faithful to forgive because Jesus paid our debt. Take time for confession and experience the joy and relief David celebrated today!