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Psalm 32[a]

By David; a well-written song.[b]

32 How blessed[c] is the one whose rebellious acts are forgiven,[d]
whose sin is pardoned.[e]
How blessed is the one[f] whose wrongdoing the Lord does not punish,[g]
in whose spirit there is no deceit.[h]
When I refused to confess my sin,[i]
my whole body wasted away,[j]
while I groaned in pain all day long.
For day and night you tormented me;[k]
you tried to destroy me[l] in the intense heat[m] of summer.[n] (Selah)
Then I confessed my sin;
I no longer covered up my wrongdoing.
I said, “I will confess[o] my rebellious acts to the Lord.”
And then you forgave my sins.[p] (Selah)
For this reason every one of your faithful followers[q] should pray to you
while there is a window of opportunity.[r]
Certainly[s] when the surging water[t] rises,
it will not reach them.[u]
You are my hiding place;
you protect me from distress.
You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance.[v] (Selah)
I will instruct and teach you[w] about how you should live.[x]
I will advise you as I look you in the eye.[y]
Do not be[z] like an unintelligent horse or mule,[aa]
which will not obey you
unless they are controlled by a bridle and bit.[ab]
10 An evil person suffers much pain,[ac]
but the Lord’s faithfulness overwhelms the one who trusts in him.[ad]
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be happy, you who are godly!
Shout for joy, all you who are morally upright![ae]


  1. Psalm 32:1 sn Psalm 32. The psalmist recalls the agony he experienced prior to confessing his sins and affirms that true happiness comes when one’s sins are forgiven. He then urges others not to be stubborn, but to turn to God while forgiveness is available, for God extends his mercy to the repentant, while the wicked experience nothing but sorrow.
  2. Psalm 32:1 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. The word is derived from a verb meaning “to be prudent; to be wise.” Various options are: “a contemplative song,” “a song imparting moral wisdom,” or “a skillful [i.e., well-written] song.” The term occurs in the superscriptions of Pss 32, 42, 44, 45, 52-55, 74, 78, 88, 89, and 142, as well as in Ps 47:7.
  3. Psalm 32:1 tn The Hebrew noun is an abstract plural. The word often refers metonymically to the happiness that God-given security and prosperity produce (see Pss 1:1, 3; 2:12; 34:9; 41:1; 65:4; 84:12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 127:5; 128:1; 144:15). Here it refers to the relief that one experiences when one’s sins are forgiven.
  4. Psalm 32:1 tn Heb “lifted up.”
  5. Psalm 32:1 tn Heb “covered over.”
  6. Psalm 32:2 tn Heb “man.” The word choice reflects the perspective of the psalmist, who is male. The principle of the psalm is certainly applicable to all people, regardless of their gender or age. To facilitate modern application, the gender and age specific “man” has been translated with the more neutral “one.”
  7. Psalm 32:2 tn Heb “blessed [is] the man to whom the Lord does not impute wrongdoing.”
  8. Psalm 32:2 sn In whose spirit there is no deceit. The point is not that the individual is sinless and pure. In this context, which focuses on confession and forgiveness of sin, the psalmist refers to one who refuses to deny or hide his sin, but instead honestly confesses it to God.
  9. Psalm 32:3 tn Heb “when I was silent.”
  10. Psalm 32:3 tn Heb “my bones became brittle.” The psalmist pictures himself as aging and growing physically weak. Trying to cover up his sin brought severe physical consequences.
  11. Psalm 32:4 tn Heb “your hand was heavy upon me.”
  12. Psalm 32:4 tc Heb “my [?] was turned.” The meaning of the Hebrew term לְשַׁד (leshad) is uncertain. A noun לָשָׁד (lashad, “cake”) is attested in Num 11:8, but it would make no sense to understand that word in this context. It is better to emend the form to לְשֻׁדִּי (leshuddi, “to my destruction”) and understand “your hand” as the subject of the verb “was turned.” In this case the text reads, “[your hand] was turned to my destruction.” In Lam 3:3 the author laments that God’s “hand” was “turned” (הָפַךְ, hafakh) against him in a hostile You tried to destroy me. The psalmist’s statement reflects his perspective. As far as he was concerned, it seemed as if the Lord was trying to kill him.
  13. Psalm 32:4 tn The translation assumes that the plural form indicates degree. If one understands the form as a true plural, then one might translate, “in the times of drought.”
  14. Psalm 32:4 sn Summer. Perhaps the psalmist suffered during the hot season and perceived the very weather as being an instrument of divine judgment. Another option is that he compares his time of suffering to the uncomfortable and oppressive heat of summer.
  15. Psalm 32:5 tn The Hiphil of ידה normally means “give thanks, praise,” but here, as in Prov 28:13, it means “confess.”
  16. Psalm 32:5 tn Heb “the wrongdoing of my sin.” By joining synonyms for “sin” in this way, the psalmist may be emphasizing the degree of his wrongdoing.
  17. Psalm 32:6 tn A “faithful follower” (חָסִיד, khasid) is one who does what is right in God’s eyes and remains faithful to God (see Pss 4:3; 12:1; 18:25; 31:23; 37:28; 86:2; 97:10).
  18. Psalm 32:6 tn Heb “at a time of finding.” This may mean, “while there is time to ‘find’ [the Lord]” and seek his forgiveness (cf. NIV). Some emend the text by combining מְצֹא (metsoʾ, “finding”) with the following term רַק (raq, “only, surely”) and read either ר[וֹ]מָצ (matsor, “distress”; see Ps 31:22) or ק[וֹ]מָצ (matsoq, “hardship”; see Ps 119:143). In this case, one may translate “in a time of distress/hardship” (cf. NEB, NRSV).
  19. Psalm 32:6 tn The Hebrew term רַק (raq) occasionally has an asseverative force.
  20. Psalm 32:6 sn The surging water is here a metaphor for trouble that endangers one’s life.
  21. Psalm 32:6 tn Heb “him.” The translation uses the plural “them” to agree with the plural “every one of your faithful followers” in the first line of v. 6.
  22. Psalm 32:7 tn Heb “[with] shouts of joy of deliverance you surround me.”
  23. Psalm 32:8 tn The second person pronominal forms in this verse are singular. The psalmist addresses each member of his audience individually (see also the note on the word “eye” in the next line). A less likely option (but one which is commonly understood) is that the Lord addresses the psalmist in vv. 8-9 (cf. NASB “I will instruct you and teach you…I will counsel you with My eye upon you”).
  24. Psalm 32:8 tn Heb “I will instruct you and I will teach you in the way [in] which you should walk.”
  25. Psalm 32:8 tn Heb “I will advise, upon you my eye,” that is, “I will offer advice [with] my eye upon you.” In 2 Chr 20:12 the statement “our eye is upon you” means that the speakers are looking to the Lord for intervention. Here the expression “my eye upon you” may simply mean that the psalmist will teach his pupils directly and personally.
  26. Psalm 32:9 tn The verb form is plural (i.e., “do not all of you be”); the psalmist addresses the whole group.
  27. Psalm 32:9 tn Heb “like a horse, like a mule without understanding.”
  28. Psalm 32:9 tn Heb “with a bridle and bit, its [?] to hold, not to come near to you.” The meaning of the Hebrew noun עֲדִי (ʿadiy) is uncertain. Normally the word refers to “jewelry,” so some suggest the meaning “trappings” here (cf. NASB). Some emend the form to לְחֵיהֶם (lekhehem, “their jawbones”) but it is difficult to see how the present Hebrew text, even if defective, could have derived from this proposed original reading. P. C. Craigie (Psalms 1-50 [WBC], 265) takes the form from an Arabic root and translates “whose gallop.” Cf. also NRSV “whose temper must be curbed.”
  29. Psalm 32:10 tn Heb “many [are the] pains of evil [one].” The singular form is representative here; the typical evildoer, representative of the larger group of wicked people, is in view.
  30. Psalm 32:10 tn Heb “but the one who trusts in the Lord, faithfulness surrounds him.”
  31. Psalm 32:11 tn Heb “all [you] pure of heart.” The “heart” is here viewed as the seat of one’s moral character and motives. The “pure of heart” are God’s faithful followers who trust in and love the Lord and, as a result, experience his deliverance (see Pss 7:10; 11:2; 36:10; 64:10; 94:15; 97:11).