PSALM 32 TALK GOD’S HIDING PLACE FOR ALL SINNERS
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In 1944 the Nazi’s took Corrie ten Boon with her sister Betsy and father from their family home in Holland to a series of concentration camps. The Ten Boon family were hiding Jews fleeing the Nazi persecutions. The room they hid the Jews in was called “The Hiding Place” and this became the title of a book co written by Corrie ten Boon and John and Elizabeth Sherill. The book tells the story of the horrific conditions Corrie and her sister suffered. Her father died at a different concentration camp only 10 days after capture and Betsie finally died within weeks of Corries release. The trailer for the movie made of this story asks the question,
“The hiding place, was it a secret room or a place hidden deep in the heart of man?”.
Psalm 32 presents the concept of, the hiding place, a place of peace and happiness hidden in the heart of man and made possible by the forgiveness of God.
David was a man who had fallen into the twin sins of adultery and murder once he fell to the lusts of the flesh and slept with another mans wife named Bathsheba and to cover this up he had her husband Uriah put in the front lines of battle so that he was killed.
David calls this Psalm a “Maskil”, which most scholars believe means teaching, instruction or enlightenment and interestingly in the Psalm David wrote soon after these sins were exposed,
“then I will teach transgressions your ways, and sinners will turn to you” Psalm 51:13.
David wrote at least 7 Psalms seeking to do just that teach sinners both the consequences of sin and God’s answer to it namely repentance and faith in the saving grace of God. These seven Psalms have become known as the penitential Psalms and they are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 and 143.
Only through the grace of God can we, sinners, find peace with God, the basis of true happiness or as this Psalm says, Blessedness. Twice David uses the word “cover” and in verse 7 he calls God his “hiding place” and so the theme of hiding or covering seems to me to be the major theme of this Psalm.
I believe David seeks to teach us six important things from his own experience of the grace of God. These six things form the basis of my headings for this Psalm and they are in fact the answer to six very important questions. The answer to these questions all point to the wonderful truth that God is the hiding place for all sinners.
- SINS HIDDEN(1 – 2) What does it mean to have our sins hidden in God?
- HIDDEN SINS(3 – 4) What happens to us when we seek to hide our sins from God?
- HIDDEN SINS OUT IN THE OPEN (5) What happens when we no longer hide our sins from God?
- HIDING IN GOD (6 – 7) What it means to us to have God as our hiding place?
- THE GOD LOGIC OF HIDING IN GOD (8 – 9) What God has to say to us about hiding in him?
- PRAISING GOD FOR BEING OUR HIDING PLACE (10 – 11) How and why we should praise God for being our hiding place?
- SINS HIDDEN(1 – 2)
What does it mean to have our sins hidden in God?
The Psalm opens with the word “Blessed”, a throw back to Psalm 1. Spurgeon aptly points out,
” The first Psalm describes the result of holy blessedness the thirty- second details the cause of it”.
So, David who felt the effects of terrible sin in his life and answers the question,
What does it mean to have our sins hidden in God?
Verses 1 and 2 speak of a life changing, experience which brings about a great inner happiness (Blessedness). This inner happiness comes to us when we know that God does not count our sins against us.
David uses three terms to describe what sin is in this Psalm. They are:
- Transgressions (vs. 1 and 5) – which is a term that describes our rebellion against God.
- Sins (vs’s 1, 2 and 5) – which means missing the mark or falling short of the glory of God.
- Iniquity (vs. 5) – which means guilt.
David’s sins, which occurred in the Bathsheba affair, were all of these. He had transgressed and broken two specific commandments of God. He had sinned and fallen way short of the standards God alone can keep. Finally he had great iniquity that is guilt that ate him up inside. Looking back at how David’s sins in the Bathsheba affair in 2 Samuel 12 were brought to light we see that God confronted David through the prophet Nathan. Nathan points the finger at David with the words,
“You are that man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes” 2 Samuel 12: 7 – 8.
David’s reaction to these words is found in 2 Samuel 12: 13,
“I have sinned against the Lord”
David now tells us in verses 1 and 2 that God forgave him and in fact covers his sin (vs. 1) and does not count his sin against him (vs. 2)
Paul uses these very words of David in Romans 4: 6 – 8 and Derek Kidner speaks of the significance of this when he writes,
“Paul quotes this to show that the important word reckons (or does not count) implies that, when God treats us as righteous, it is his gift to us apart from our deserts”.
David certainly did not deserve to be treated as righteous after what he had done and either do we. As Paul says in a number of ways in Romans, no one is righteous and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Right throughout the bible a Saviour is needed who will give us his righteousness and we know that Jesus has done that for us by dying for our sins on the cross.
- HIDDEN SINS (3 – 4)
What happens to us when we seek to hide our sins from God?
David now goes back to what happened before he confessed his sins to God to tell us what it was like for him when he sought to stupidly hide his sins from God. In verses 3 and 4 he answers the question what happens to us when we seek to hide our sins from God?
“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer”.
How much time elapsed between David committing his sins in the Bathsheba affair to Nathan coming to David to expose his sins the text of 2 Samuel does not tell us. Some period of time does seemed to have elapsed as Bathsheba went through a time of morning her husband’s death and David married her and had a male child to her. This could have been up to 12 months or so. The 2 Samuel text does not tell us what David was feeling like but these two verses do give us an insight into the heart and mind of David at this time.
He speaks of his “bones wasting away” and “groaning all day long”,was David physically sick at this time?
We do not know but my hunch is that this is poetic language describing how he felt at that time. When I have felt the weight of sin on me in my life in the past I too felt physically week and as the memory of my shortcomings comes into my mind. I often make a kind of groaning sound and even feel a shudder running through my body as the memory of my sins comes to me.
David was probably not sleeping to well as he speaks of,
“day and night your hand was heavy upon me”
and I too can relate to having many sleepless nights when my own sins lay heavy upon my mind and conscience.
Finally, he completes his description of how he felt before his open and public confession as his “strength was sapped as in the heat of summer”. I can relate to this living in a place like Australia and what it means to be sapped of energy from the heat of a hot summers day. If you are not in air-conditioning you can feel weak and down right uncomfortable from the sapping heat.
But why did David feel so bad?
The answer is he was silent, he tried to hide his sins from God, and he tried to deal with it without God. This is the state of so many people and this internal pain can drive many to alcoholism and drugs. They try to dull the internal pain they feel from the guilt of sin in their hearts and minds.
The answer to this problem is found in the next verse, which is so important it gets a heading of its own.
- HIDDEN SINS OUT IN THE OPEN (5)
What happens when we no longer hide our sins from God?
The answer to the intense internal pain of sin is simply put by David as,
“I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”
The answer is don’t keep your sins hidden from God bring them out into the open and confess them to God. It is our silence and our reluctance to confess our sins that causes us so much pain and distress. All self-help groups like Alcoholic Anonymous etc. work on the principle of bringing the problem out into the open and confessing it to others who are suffering from the same affliction.
However all these self-help groups will fall short of really helping these people if they don’t go to the root cause of all of our problems, sin and the need to confess it to God and seek his forgiveness.
Release and healing comes to David quickly as the second half of the verse answers the question, what happens when we no longer hide our sins from God?
The text reads, “and you (God) forgave the guilt of my sin”.
Interestingly in the 2 Samuel 12 passage, David confesses his sins in verse 13, with the words, “I have sinned against the Lord”and in the next verse Nathan replies,
“The Lord has taken away your sin”.
Nathan assures David that God has forgiven him straight away in a simple but remarkable response. He goes on to say to David in this verse,
“You are not going to die”
However, in the next verse Nathan makes it clear that David will face some of the consequences of his sin,
“But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die”.
This contempt expressed by David’s enemies continued throughout David’s life and forms the background for many of the Psalms David wrote from that day onwards.
Earlier Nathan speaks of what his sin will do to his future family life when in verse 10 we read,
“Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own”.
Nathan goes on to prophecy what this will mean for his family in the future,
“Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad day-light”.
This was fulfilled in the rebellion of his son Absalom another rich source of background material for later Psalms of David.
However, David does enjoy the underserved forgiveness of God and goes on from the Bathsheba affair to be a person who
“teaches transgressions your way”.
Over the years of my Christian life the stories of reformed and forgiven sinners has been a constant source of encouragement for me.
To see how God’s forgiveness and transforms lives again answers the key question what happens when we no longer hide our sins from God?
The rest of the Psalm spells out in much greater detail the answer to this important question. This leads naturally to the next section:
- HIDING IN GOD (6 – 7)
What it means to us to have God as our hiding place?
These two verses make it clear what happens to a person who stops hiding from God and in fact makes God their hiding place for their sins and lives.
“Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
David moves from the despair of sin to the confidence and happiness of a man forgiven and changed forever. He then exhorts others to follow his example and do it as a matter of priority and urgency because he says opportunities to do so could be lost. His words here are echoed by the prophet Isaiah many years later in Isaiah 55: 6 – 7,
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon”.
A great calamity awaits those who have not turned to God which David poetically describes as a flood and echo’s the great flood of judgment in the days of Noah in Genesis 6 to 9. David wants his hearers to be saved from judgment and he knows the only way of salvation is through faith in the God of grace.
His confidence in God owing to his forgiveness then leads him to declare that God is his hiding place. God is his safe harbor, fortress and deliverer.
In the story of Corrie ten Boon we learn of the terrible situations Corrie and her sister found themselves in the German concentration camps.
Over and over again even in this hellhole Corrie and her sister Betsy found God’s help and protection. One such incident stands out in my mind from the book I read many years ago. Corrie and her sister had got their hands on a copy of the New Testament which was totally not allowed by their German captives but secretly they led bible studies for other inmates in a flea infested barrack. One day their Scripture reading from their smuggled Bible was from 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 and it reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the flea-infested barrack they were meeting in. Corrie finally agreed to somehow thank God for even the fleas. Much later they learnt that the guards refused to enter this barrack because of the fleas. God protected them by using the fleas and this was only one example of how Corrie ten Boon proved God to be her hiding place even in the midst of her terrible surroundings.
David proved the same thing over and over again throughout his life that no matter what situation he found himself in God was his hiding place. God was with him forgiving and protecting him so David declares,
“God surrounded him with songs of deliverance”.
At the end of Jesus life on earth he promises all true followers of him that he will never forsake us and will be with us to the ends of the ages, Matthew 28: 20. Jesus is our hiding place and we can go to him at any time for help and protection. As Jesus declares in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
- THE GOD LOGIC OF HIDING IN GOD (8 – 9)
What God has to say to us about hiding in him?
In verses 8 and 9 God speaks directly and we find in these verses the answer to the question “what God has to say to us about hiding in him?
The God logic is simple, if we turn to God and seek him as our hiding place or our place of forgiveness and protection then he will instruct us just as he taught and instructed David. We like David will learn from God and he will watch over us.
However, God knows how stubborn and proud we are and gives us a warning that if we refuse his invitation to come to him then we lose our God given ability to relate to him and will become nothing more than a wild beast like a horse that can only learn by forceful harsh means like the bit and bridle.
We were made to have fellowship with God but our sins cut us off from this special relationship with God but God calls us back and offers us forgiveness we know was made possible by the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ. To turn our backs on this offer of a new relationship with him is to turn down God’s free gift of love and forgiveness and will mean God will treat us as the wilful disobedient beast we are without him in our lives.
- PRAISING GOD FOR BEING OUR HIDING PLACE (10 – 11)
How and why we should praise God for being our hiding place?
The final two verses finish on a note of praise. Just as David began this Psalm of instruction so he closes it.
In verse 10 he makes the final contrast between those who have not turned to God with those who have,
“Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in him”
David uses hiding place type language to describe the situation of those who turn to God for forgiveness and protection. God will give the person who trusts in him his love and protection but those who refuse to trust in God there is only woe and despair. David is not just speaking here from some kind of ivory tower he is speaking from very real experience.
He spoke of the woe of seeking to hide his sins from God in verse 3 and 4 and he spoke of the wonder and release of finding God’s forgiveness in verse 5.
He wants all us to find the wonder and release of God’s love when we come clean with God and stop seeking to hide our sins from God and instead bring them out into the open by confessing them to God and then trust in him for forgiveness.
In the final verse David calls on his hearers to Praise God who is our hiding place in the words,
“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing all you who are upright in heart!”
Of course, we now know that the righteous are all those who have had their sins forgiven by God. That is all who have turned to God in confession and faith and discover he is their hiding place from sin and its consequences.
Only they can truly sing the true praises of God for they alone have found God to be the perfect hiding place for all sinners. I wrote the following song after being inspired by this Psalm.
THE LORD IS MY HIDING PLACE
(Based on verses from Psalm 32)
Blessed is everyone
Who’s sins are forgiven
Who turns to the Lord
and confesses their sins
He will cover the sins we have committed
Yes he is a God of love so trust in him.
Yes the Lord is my hiding place
He does deliver me and sets me free
Yes the Lord is my hiding place
He does surround me with his love
The Lord will teach you
He will instruct you
He will show you the way to go
His eyes are upon you to counsel you
He will advise you what you must do
Be not stubborn
Like a mule or horse
Who need guiding with a bridle
Don’t be foolish and turn away from God
Prove God’s steadfast love by trusting him
So be glad and sing
Rejoice in God our King
Who is Jesus Christ the Lord of Lords
Shout for joy and sing for Jesus died for sin
And he will come again to take us home.
Yes the Lord is my hiding place
He does deliver me and sets me free
Yes the Lord is my hiding place
He does surround me with his love
By: Jim Wenman
THREE NEW TESTAMENT APPLICATIONS PSALM 32
- ROMANS 4: 4 – 8 – THE GIFT OF GOD’S FREE FORGIVENESS AS EXPRESSED BY DAVID
I have read a couple of commentaries of the Psalms that from time to time have said that Paul’s doctrine of Justification by faith alone is not found in the Psalms. They suggest that reformed believers, like me read back into the Psalms this New Testament doctrine.
This passage in Romans puts down this false accusation. Paul quotes directly from Psalm 32 verses 1 and 2 as part of his argument for justification by faith alone as the grounds of our relationship with God. The significant passage that these verses come from starts I think from verse 1 of this chapter here Paul argues that Abraham (the father of Old Testament faith) was not justified by works but by faith and he quotes in verse 3 a key verse in Genesis that reads,
“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteous” (Gen. 15: 6)
He goes on to then speak of David and his words in Psalm 32: 1 – 2)
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him”.
Paul argues that these words (vs.6)
“speaks of blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works”.
Paul goes on to speak of how Abraham was credited with righteousness before he was circumcised. This was important for Paul to counter those who saw being circumcised as a kind of good work believers had to do. Paul argues imputed righteousness came before circumcision and circumcision is but the sign of saving faith and nothing more.
So David like Abraham before him could not claim they were righteous and therefore saved by good works. They like all people need God’s gift of imputed righteousness that is a gift from God out of his love for us.
Paul completes chapter 4 of Romans with these very instructive words,
“The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” Romans 4: 23 – 25.
Certainly David did not know about The Lord Jesus Christ as he lived 700 years before Christ but he looked forward to Christ’s coming, the coming of a great anointed one who would save his people from their sins. Not just people in future but the past as well.
The cross has been said is the pinnacle point of history. People who lived before it looked forward to it and people who lived after it look back to it.
- John 17: 24 – 26 SAFE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS
In my exposition of Psalm 32 I saw that verse 7 was the central idea of the Psalm when he says,
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance”.
In John 17 we read Jesus prayer for his disciple verses 6 – 19 and then in verses 20 to 26 we read Jesus prayer for all believers, which includes us if we have put our trust in Christ. In this remarkable prayer Jesus prays these words,
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them”.
Here Jesus is expressing that he is in fact our hiding place and he wants us to be in him as he is in us. He prays that we might all one day be with him in glory. This echo’s Jesus words in John 14: 1 – 4,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
But Jesus prayer goes further than our future home with him in heaven. He wants to be with us all times,
“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them”
Jesus is truly our hiding place, the one who protects us and will never let us go. As Jesus promises in John 10: 27 – 29,
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
From these and many other passages of the New Testament we learn that if we have come to Christ confessing our sins and repenting of them and if we put our faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins then we are safe in the arms of Jesus and no matter what might happen to us we know that Jesus is our hiding place.
- 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 ALWAYS GIVE THANKS TO GOD IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
I close this study with the passage of scripture Corrie ten Boon and her sister Betsy read in 1945 in that flea infested hellhole barrack in Nazi Germany. Corrie like most of us could not see how this terrible flea infested place could be worthy of praise. However Corrie’s sister Betsy had a strong and unremitting faith in God she took Paul’s words in the passage they read as the truth to live by.
Lets read the words of this passage again, 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you inChrist Jesus”.
Paul like David did not speak these words of truth from some kind of ivory tower but out of much problems and difficulties he too proved God to be a God of love and truth. Paul was often beaten and even spent a lot of time in prison chained to a Roman guard. However Paul knew that Jesus was with him and he knew that even in the darkest place the light of Christ was with him.
It takes faith and faith alone to look beyond our immediate situations and give thanks to God. To rejoice always even when we don’t feel like rejoicing.
And why does Paul say we should do this?
His answer is because; “this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.
It is so much more of a powerful witness to the world around us when we can exercise this kind of faith. Paul wrote in Romans 8: 28,
“And we know that in all things God works for good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
It was some time after Corrie and Betsy praised God for their flea- ridden barracks that they learnt that the Nazi guards only left Corrie and Betsy alone to teach the word of God because they did not want to enter the barracks because of the fleas. We do not always find out in this life why certain things happen to us but faith in God should tell us that
“in all things God works for good of those who love him”.
Yes, we can confidently say that we to have a hiding place, a place of peace and happiness hidden in our hearts and made possible by the forgiveness of God.
Thank you, Jesus, for your promise to always be with us and to never let anyone snatch us out of your hands. We give you thanks at all times in all circumstances of life for in you we have a perfect hiding place, a place of peace and happiness that is deep with us and is made only possible for us because of your death for us that has forgiven our sins and made us one with you and with yourFather. In Jesus name we pray this Amen.