Historians have pointed out that from the 4th century AD, the famous theologian Augustine, had this Psalm inscribed on his bedroom wall to help him memorize it better. Augustine claimed it as one of his favorite Psalms. It is very much in tune with Psalm 51, where a soul can rejoice in the wonders of God’s grace & mercy dealing with sin, comforting sorrow and instructing the ignorant. The word “Maskil” in the title is sometimes translated by Rabbi’s to mean “instruction”, and there are at least a dozen Psalms that have this word as part of the title. So here we know God expects us to learn something from His praise, read Colossians 3:16, and anticipate The Teacher’s instruction!
v1. David had plenty of opportunities to know the blessed refreshment of forgiveness in his own life. Israel’s great King – a man after God’s heart – nevertheless had some significant seasons of sin and spiritual decline. Notable among these were David’s deceitful time at Ziklag (1 Samuel 27, 29, 30) and wrongful murders (27:8-12). It was when David had a lot of mouths to feed with his mighty men and running for his life while King Saul chased him, besides, there weren’t a lot of job openings in Ziklag. So they began making guerrilla raids on the pagan villages. There were times in Israel’s history when God ordered His men to wipe out certain pagan groups as judgment for their sin. But God didn’t command David to do that here. David was acting on his own. These villagers were apparently allies with Achish. David didn’t want them talking. So he slaughtered them all and then lied to Achish so that he thought David was attacking Jewish villages. He’s playing a dangerous con game. When wrong thinking leads you into wrong actions and wrong company, then you feel compelled to engage in more wrong actions to cover your tracks and to maintain your lifestyle. Whenever a person gets snared by sin, there is always deception, both the sinner deceiving others and deceiving himself by rationalizing his sin: But you are just digging yourself deeper!
Then there was David’s personal sin with Bathsheba and public sin against Uriah (2 Samuel 11). After these incidents, David came to confession, repentance, and felt forgiveness so real, that he was moved not only to fast, but by God’s Spirit, to sing about it. We are blessed to have his written lyrics maintained for millenia to enjoy. David knew what it was like to be a guilty sinner. He knew the seriousness of sin and how good it is to be truly forgiven. He knew – as Paul would later state in Romans 4:6-8 – the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from our own works. If David were judged on works alone, then The Righteous God must condemn him; nevertheless he knew by experience, blessed is he whose trespasses are forgiven, whose sin is covered. The psalmist declares that the forgiveness of sin, of whatever kind of sin, whether against God or man, whether great or small, whether deliberate or accidental, or whether by omission or commission, real total forgiveness is to be found in our God, Jesus Christ. Our challenge is to emulate Him, Eph. 4:32-5:1-2
v5, Real, deep, true confession of sin has been a feature of every genuine new birth as we awaken spiritually to be alive in Christ. As demonstrated by the revival in Ephesus recorded in Acts 19:17-20. But there are too many who make confession, having no broken hearts, no humbled spirits. Know this, that even if there be ten thousand confessions, if they are made by hardened hearts, if they do not spring from sorrowful spirits, they are only additions to our guilt as they are just deep hidden mockeries of the Almighty’s offer to forgive the repentant, not the unrepentant. Integrity is everything!
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