Some Helpful Words on Psalm 32: Three Grand Realities

Psalm 32  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 6
In this lovely psalm we have God presented to us in three ways. First, we have Him as our Justifier; second, as our Hiding-place; third, as our Guide. These surely are "Three Grand Realities." Nor is it merely that God provides us with justification, security and guidance, though even this were rich and abundant mercy and goodness; but there is far more than this—He Himself has become our Justifier, our Hiding place and our Guide. Wondrous provision! Such is the moral grandeur of redemption—such is the way in which the God of all grace has met our need. If God Himself is my Justifier, I must be perfectly justified. If He is my Hiding-place, I must be perfectly hidden. If He is my Guide, I must be perfectly guided.
Let us then, as guided by the light of holy Scripture, and in dependence upon the teaching of the Holy Spirit, proceed to consider, in the first place,
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." Oh! the blessedness! Transgression forgiven—sin covered. There is deeply imbedded in man's religious mind the thought that he has to meet God as a judge—that he, as a sinner, has, in some way or another, to satisfy the claims of a righteous judge who will deal with him about his sins and exact the very last farthing. As the dying gypsy exclaimed when told that he was standing at the very portal of the eternal world, "What! must I gang afore the Judge wi' a' my sins upon me!" Tremendous inquiry! If I have to meet God as my judge, it is all over with me. "Enter not into judgment with Thy servant: for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified." Psalm 143:22And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. (Psalm 143:2).
Hence therefore a soul looking at God as a judge may be filled with terror, inasmuch as he cannot answer Him one of a thousand. "Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" You cannot meet God as a judge. Condemnation must be the issue of a meeting between a righteous judge and a guilty sinner.
But, thanks be to God, He wears another character now. He is a righteous justifier. Yes, a justifier of such as cannot meet Him as a judge. God must be righteous in whatever sphere He displays Himself Whether as a judge or a justifier, He must be just. But in this day of grace, during "the acceptable year," "the day of salvation," He is revealing Himself as "a just God and a Savior"—a righteous Saviour God. What a character! What a stupendous triumph of redeeming love! What an answer to Satan! What a balm for the convicted conscience and stricken heart! A Savior-God! It is the very title which suits a lost sinner. It brings God near to me in the very condition and character in which I find myself.
If God is a Savior, it is precisely what suits me as lost. If God is a justifier, it is exactly what I need as guilty. None but a lost sinner can have to do with a Savior-God. None but a guilty sinner can have to do with God as a righteous justifier. Nothing can be simpler. It places salvation and justification on a basis as simple as it is solid, and as solid as it is simple: God reveals Himself as a Savior; the believing sinner walks in the light of that revelation, and is saved. God reveals Himself as a justifier; the believing sinner walks in the light of that revelation, and is justified. He is saved and justified according to the perfect standard of God's revelation of Himself. It is impossible to stand on more solid ground or occupy a more unassailable position than this. To touch the believer's salvation and justification is to mar the integrity of God's revelation.
And let the reader remember who it is that God justifies, for this point is only second in importance to the question of who is the justifier. Whom then does God justify? Is it good people? Where are they? Is it those who have done their duty? Are any such to be found? Is it those who have fulfilled the law? Such would not need His justification, seeing that "the man which doeth those things shall live by them." If therefore a man could fulfill the law, he should have no transgression to be forgiven, no sin to be covered, and hence a Savior-God—a righteous justifier—is not for him. This is obvious. A man who has wrought out a legal righteousness does not want an evangelical one. "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." There was no use in His dying to get us righteousness if it could be had some other way.
Whom then does God justify? Hear it! He justifies the ungodly. Yes; such is the veritable language of holy Scripture. "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." Rom. 4:4-84Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:4‑8).
Here then we get our answer, full, clear, distinct and conclusive. Two characters are placed in contrast; namely, "him that worketh," and "him that worketh not," and this contrast completely upsets all man's thoughts. It never could have entered into man's mind to conceive that righteousness was to be had without working for it—that God would justify the ungodly. And yet this is the very doctrine of Scripture. If man could get righteousness by working for it, then clearly it would not be divine righteousness, for the simplest of all reasons, that this latter is to "him that worketh not." If God reveals Himself as the justifier of the ungodly, then it is a sheer denial of the revelation for man to come before Him in any other character.
If I, as a sinner, bring my duties to God, I must meet Him as a judge, for surely He must judge my duties to see if they are all right. But if I bring my sins to Him, He meets me as a justifier with a full and free forgiveness and an everlasting righteousness. The peculiar glory of the gospel is that it reveals God as the righteous justifier of poor ungodly sinners.
This is a marvelous truth. And if it be asked, as surely it must, by every exercised conscience, on what ground does this grand reality hold good? the answer is as clear and satisfactory as the most anxious soul can possibly desire.
It is this—God, as a judge, dealt with my sins at the cross in order that God as a justifier might deal with me at heaven's side of the empty tomb of Jesus. The death of Christ therefore forms the ground on which God can righteously justify the ungodly. A righteous judge condemned sin on the cross that a righteous justifier might pardon and justify the guilty. What a profound mystery! Well may angels desire to look into it; and well may sinners, whom it so blessedly concerns, bless and praise Him who has counseled, revealed, and wrought it all for them through the accomplished atonement of Christ.
It is a remarkable fact that so long as the sinner is at enmity with God he is at peace with himself; at peace with the world; at peace with the devil; but the moment he is brought into full peace with God, he is at war with himself, with the world, and with the devil. Hence, no sooner do I know God as my justifier than I have to cope with a host of spiritual enemies, within and around.
This makes me conscious of another need; I want a hiding-place into which I may retreat at all times, nay, rather out of which I may never venture to show myself. Now, God is this Hiding place. "Thou art my hiding place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shall compass me about with songs of deliverance." What a difference between the condition of the soul here and in the third and fourth verses! "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer."
What a contrast between the "roaring" of a sin-burdened soul fearing judgment, and the "songs of deliverance" of a justified soul, hidden in God! And yet it is far better to roar in disquietude of spirit, than to cry, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. True anxiety is vastly to be preferred to a false peace. But the believer has neither the one nor the other. His anxiety has been hushed into truthful repose by the knowledge of God as his justifier and hiding place; and therefore instead of the roarings of disquietude, he can sing songs of deliverance. Blessed exchange! Instead of crying out, "Oh! the wretchedness!" he can sing aloud "Oh! the blessedness!" "Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." "If God be for us, who can be against us?" "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place."
These are some of the "songs of deliverance" with which a Saviour God compasses about His justified and hidden ones. Would that we were more filled with them! Alas! that we should be more characterized by murmurings and complaining than by songs of triumph. Surely, if we would but ponder our mercies and blessings more deeply, our songs would be more abundant. Who have such reason to be glad as those who are justified by, and perfectly hidden in, God?
But we must close this paper by a brief reference to the third point in this lovely scripture; namely,
This we may truly say is a grand reality. Yes, and we want it as we pass along through the labyrinths of this wilderness-world, in this day of perplexity and confusion. We want a guide and God has undertaken to fill that office for us. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with Mine eye." What precious grace! It is as though our God would meet us at each stage of our path and manifest Himself in the very character in which we need Him. When bowed down with guilt, and roaring in disquietude, our bones waxing old, and our moisture dried up, He shines before us as our justifier—our Savior-God—pardoning our transgressions and covering our sins. When surrounded by hosts of spiritual enemies who would crush us in a moment, He opens His bosom to us and invites us to find in Himself a retreat and a hiding-place from them all; so that instead of feeling ourselves compassed with foes, we are compassed with songs. And finally when called to pass through scenes of confusion and perplexity, He, in infinite grace, stands before us and says, "I will guide thee." What grace! What nearness! What intimacy!
And mark the way He guides. "I will guide thee with Mine eye." This as we know is the most tender, delicate, and affectionate description of guidance. We must be very intimate with a person and very near him in order to be guided by the movement of his eye. It is a far more refined and exquisite sort of guidance than the movement of the hand or the sound of the voice. I must be gazing directly into a person's face in order to catch the glance of his eye; and I must be intimately acquainted with his wishes and his ways in order to interpret the glance and act upon it.
O that we entered more fully into all this! Would that the guidance of our Father's eye were ever sufficient for us! Would that we could just place our hand in His and, gazing up into His countenance, be ever guided by the movement of His eye! Then would our path be clear and safe, simple and happy. We would not, like the impetuous "horse" or the obstinate "mule" require the "bit and bridle" of circumstances; but through communion with His mind we should know His will. How often we are at a loss as to our path! How often are we ill at ease! And why? Because the guidance of the eye is not understood. We ask God for guidance in reference to movements which He does not want us to make, and as to paths in which He does not want us to tread. "I don't know which way to turn," said someone lately to a Christian friend. What was the reply? A very simple one. "Don't turn at all." Just so. If you don't see your way as to moving, it is very obvious you should stand still.
May all the people of God be enabled, by His Spirit, to walk as justified ones, to abide in their Hiding-place, and follow their Guide!