What does Psalm 32:1 mean?
ESV: A Maskil of David. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
NIV: Of David. A maskil. Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
NASB: How blessed is he whose wrongdoing is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!
CSB: How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!
NLT: Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
KJV: {A Psalm of David, Maschil.} Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
NKJV: {A Psalm of David. A Contemplation.} Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered.
Verse Commentary:
David calls himself (Psalm 32:3) "blessed." In Psalm 1:1 the word "blessed" describes the obedient person, whereas here it describes the disobedient person who receives forgiveness. Many commentators associate this psalm with David's sins of adultery, coverup, and murder as recorded in 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12. This would also connect to Psalm 51, which was inspired by David's confrontation with the prophet Nathan.

David refers to his sin as a "transgression," literally meaning "crossing the line." The term is also used in reference to things like property; a related word is "trespass." God set clear lines, commanding, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13) and also, "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14). David also identifies transgression as "sin," often summarized as "missing the mark." God set the mark as righteousness, but David fell far short when he committed adultery and murder.

In Old Testament times atonement refers to the covering of sin. In New Testament times, Jesus' sacrifice on the cross did not simply cover sin, it removed it entirely. Colossians 2:14 refers to Christ's setting the believer's sin aside, "nailing it to the cross."

The Hebrew term Maskiyl is not clearly understood. It most likely refers to a particular type of song. Many passages labeled with this word are self-reflective, such as Psalms 32, 52, and 89.
Verse Context:
Psalm 32:1–4 expresses David's relief and happiness once God forgave his sin (Psalm 51:1). He recalls the misery he felt when he refused to acknowledge and confess his wrongdoing. David's resistance to admitting his sin imposed dire consequences: physical distress and relentless conviction. This is one of the ways in which God communicates to His believers when they need to repent of sin.
Chapter Summary:
This psalm follows a progression of David's own experience: from the pressure of resisting confession, to the relief of being forgiven, to a renewed appreciation of God's graciousness for His people. David notes that being forgiven of sin is a great blessing, and those who resist repentance are delaying that restoration. He reflects on his own experience with stubbornness and encourages all people to seek God in sincerity.
Chapter Context:
Psalm 32 follows David's confession of the sins of adultery and murder. Psalm 51 records his initial response when confronted by the prophet Nathan. The background of David's sin, Nathan's rebuke, and the aftermath are found in 2 Samuel 11—12. For some undisclosed time, David refused to acknowledge his sin, but when he finally confessed it, the Lord graciously forgave him.
Book Summary:
The book of Psalms is composed of individual songs, hymns, or poems, each of which is a ''Psalm'' in and of itself. These works contain a wide variety of themes. Some Psalms focus on praising and worshipping God. Others cry out in anguish over the pain of life. Still other Psalms look forward to the coming of the Messiah. While some Psalms are related, each has its own historical and biblical context.
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