Happy is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit (Ps 32:1-2).
Psalm 32 expresses the happy condition of one who is in close accord with God. Humanity’s greatest need is reconciliation with God, but our sin stands in the way as an insurmountable chasm between us. For thousands of years, religions have sought to establish the conditions by which a person can attain a right standing before God, but all fall short because they begin and end with human effort (and perhaps a little infusion of God’s help). In Psalm 32, we have as clear a Gospel message as is found in the Old Testament, so much so, that the apostle Paul quotes its first two verses in his defense of justification by faith, apart from works, in Romans 4:6-8. The word “counts,” (or imputes or credits or reckons) in verse 2, reveals that the origin from which our sins are forgiven or covered, is God’s gift to us. Paul expands on this further in Romans 4 where he describes a righteousness that is from God, given on the basis of faith. Quoting Genesis 15:6, Paul demonstrates that this gift of righteousness was granted to our father Abraham on the basis of faith, not his keeping of the rite of circumcision. This same principle applies to all of us who follow father Abraham, by believing in the One who rose from the dead, Jesus Christ, who was delivered over to death for our sins (Ro 4:24-25). Carefully read Romans 4, and make sure you fully understand Paul’s argument and the contribution that Psalm 32 makes to his defense of justification by faith alone.
While salvation is monergistic, that is, a work entirely accomplished by God and counted to us, apart from anything in ourselves; nevertheless, we are not completely passive in the process by which salvation is worked out in our lives. As human beings we will continue to sin in our thoughts and actions. As we do, if we behave like the stubborn horse or mule who must be controlled by bit and bridle (v. 9), by trying to cover up our sin, we will find ourselves living in unrest of soul and body (v. 3-4). However, if we are willing to confess our sins, we find a God who will readily forgive and receive us (v. 5, 1 Jn 1:9). As forgiven creatures, we are happy, living joyfully to the praise of His glorious grace.