Psalm 32 takes a different trajectory from the tone taken in the more recent chapters of Christ speaking of His experiences on the cross. The aftermath, the blessing which flows from His cruciform salvific work, is described in this chapter, another form of an Old Testament Beatitude (c.f. Matthew 5) bookended by language similar to Psalm 1. Here we see David speaking of the gift of salvation which comes from Christ. Blessed be the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (v.1); blessed be the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit (v.2). Is there any such man save for Christ? He is truly the blessed one indeed!
David acknowledges his sin to the LORD, such confession being immediately forgiven (v.5). This is the gift of righteousness to us – and the foundation of the blessed man is such forgiveness, is that such iniquity is not counted against Him, such that David’s faith is counted to him as righteousness (c.f. Romans 4). Therefore we should not stay silent but regularly confess our sins to the One who heals, who reminds us that we are sinless in the Son. Let us not stay silent and let our bones waste away through our groaning (v.3), because He is David’s hiding place, Christ’s Deliverer, and our deliverance (v.7). Is not fear of the LORD the beginning of wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 1:7)? So also we should not be ignorant and foolish like a horse or a mule (v.9), but let us be sheep filled with wisdom to follow the Shepherd.
So Psalm 30 leads naturally into this chapter. V1-2 – “…in your righteousness deliver!… rescue em speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!” These are the words of Christ on the cross, that He relies on His Father the Rock of His refuge. “Into your hand I commit my spirit” – so Christ utters these words in his last breath before his death (Luke 23:46), but these are not words of dejection. Quite the contrary, these are words built on hope! As Matthew Henry states with regard to this chapter:
Christ’s using those words upon the cross may warrant us to apply all this to Christ, who trusted in his Father and was supported and delivered by him, and (because he humbled himself) highly exalted, which it is proper to think of when we sing these verses, as also therein to acknowledge the experience we have had of God’s gracious presence with us in our troubles and to encourage ourselves to trust in him for the future.
The chapter continues in this hope in v7 – the Father has seen the Christ’s affliction, knowing the distress of Jesus’ soul, and yet the Father has not delivered Him into the hand of the enemy!
Have we ever considered the sorrow which we bestowed upon our Bridegroom? He was distressed, eye, soul and body wasted from grief (v.9); life spent with sorrow, burdened by the iniquity we gave him – as Matthew Henry states, an “affliction” which God laid upon David when he quarreled with Saul, yet David’s righteousness was never in question as never was Christ’s own righteousness, as his bones waste away because of his burden to fight against false prophets and liars (v.10); forgotten and forsaken (v.12); scheming together to break the bonds between the Father and the Son as the enemy had planned (v.13; c.f. Psalm 2) – yet, despite all this, the Christ continues to trust in the Father. The Father, who in His right time (v.15) will rescue Jesus from the hand of His enemies and persecutors and save him (v.16). Just as in chapter 30 that Christ’s mourning shall be turned to dancing, so now the curse of the enemy should be turned upon them: let them be put to shame and go to Sheol; let their lying lips be mute (v.17-18). Although Christ is presently suffering and persecuted, it is the Father’s abundant goodness which is stored up for those who fear Him and worked for those who take refuge in Him (c.f. Romans 8:28). How beautiful it is for Christ to trust in the Father’s sovereignty as He hung on the cross to die! Even in death the Father’s love is real and tangible!
So Christ pleas for us to hear the voice of the Father – that all the Christians from Adam down to present shall love Him because He faithfully preserves the faithful, abundantly repaying the ones who curse with curses (v.23). Just as Christ waited and received the Father’s full glory, so also we should wait on Him who will not fail us. Are we ready to commit our spirits into His hand?
Christ thus preaches his own resurrection – “O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.” (v3) His favour is for a lifetime, against his momentary anger, joy always coming in the morning over the weeping which is but temporarily tarrying in the night. Such is the foundation of the One who cried to the LORD for help, the LORD who healed Him (v.1-2) – His foundation is strong by His overwhelming favour (v7). If even the Christ should call on the Father, what right have we to presume that we can walk with Him without yearning for His presence, without crying and pleading for His mercy? (v.8) There is indeed no profit in Christ’s death if He goes down and remains in the pit (v.9) – it is life which tells of His faithfulness, not the death of dust! He is the Son’s Mercy and Helper (v.10) – thus is the Great Exchange which Luther spoke of, that His innocence is exchanged for our sin, and His righteousness is gifted to us as we give him our corruption and death.
Thus He has changed our mourning into dancing, and clothed us in robes of righteousness and gladness (Isaiah 61:10). Whose glory are we speaking of, the glory that could be shared with none other (Isaiah 42:8)? The glory is given to the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Son, whom the Father shares His glory with – such glory shared with us (John 17), so that the Son’s dancing is gifted to us!
Compared to the ramifications of the LORD’s silence in Psalm 28, we see the power of God’s voice in chapter 29. The glory is due to His Name, Jesus Christ – His voice is over the waters (v.3), His voice is powerful and full of majesty (v.4), His voice breaks the cedars of Lebanon (v.5; c.f. Isaiah 2:13, 14:8, 37:24 – indicative of being prideful, lofty and lifted up), His voice flashes forth flames of fire, shaking the wilderness of Kadesh (v.7-8; c.f. Numbers 27:14, 33:36 – wilderness of Zin, that is Kadesh – shaking at the unholiness of man’s quarrel), His voice giving birth to the deer, stripping the forests bare (v.9). This is the true power of His voice. Indeed – “if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die” (Deuteronomy 5:25); yet, “like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:20). Believe and obey His voice (Deuteronomy 9:23, 13:18; 1 Samuel 15:20-22; 1 Samuel 28:18; 1 Kings 20:36; 2 Kings 18:12; Isaiah 6:8) – obey the Lord at all times, waiting for His voice to go before Israel.
So the LORD sits enthroned over the flood, over judgment, blessings and giving strength to his people (v.11), to His church. This is the creative voice, the sound of the LORD, the voice which we obey; the voice which we believe. Instead of being dragged into the pit by the LORD’s silence, His voice lifts us up, gives us strength, destroys all pride and quarrel. If this is but only His voice, what of His Word? In the Word is life, and the life was the light of men, the light shining in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5). Let us then go and seek His voice, seek His words, seek His Eternal Word and be filled with such life and ascend to Him before His throne!
This is the Rock whom Christ clings to – “my rock, be not deaf to me” (v. 1). Christ must continue to yearn for His Father in the midst of His suffering, His glory magnified in the pinnacle of His weakness and reliance. The Father’s silence will lead the Son to the pit; the Father’s voice will lift Him up to the right hand of the throne (c.f. Psalm 29).
Thus, in this chapter, Christ pleas for His voice to be heard – crying for help (v. 2), lifting up His hands to the innermost sanctuary; to the most intimate of rooms; to the Holy of Holies. That is where the Father resides. He is the same Rock who protects Christ from the wicked, from the workers of evil, from the hypocrites who speak peace with evil motivations – their fruit will be dead, just as their souls are ensnared by the evil one (v.3-4).
Christ’s voice of His pleas is indeed heard (v.6) – how beautiful is He, the Lord who is Christ’s strength and shield, the One in Whom Christ’s heart rests and exults and sings with overflowing joy like the moment a river breaks an unyielding dam (v.7). He is the One who is both the strength of Christ and of His sheep; who is the saving refuge of Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed One. Christ is the Father’s heritage, and the sheep share in the glories and riches of their one and only Shepherd (v8-9). Do our hearts exult as we consider His magnificent love? Do we make pleas of mercy, in the same desperation as Christ? Do we rely on Christ as our shepherd, or are we the shepherds?