Summary: There is not greater peace then to know that you are forgiven.
The Joy of Forgiveness
As with Psalm 51, scholars virtually agree on the occasion of this Hebrew song. God heard the prayer of the penitent David and restored full fellowship to him. The forgiven man then composed this joyful testimony of the peace that comes when one finds forgiveness. Perhaps a year passed between Nathan’s visit to David after he sinened with Bathsheba and the writing of his prayer for forgiveness in Psalm 51. Though no records exist to confirm it, most scholars believe a shorter time passed between that prayer for restoration and the writing of this beautiful psalm.
I. Happiness of the forgiven sinner (vv. 1-2)
a. The Hebrew plural connection translated “blessed” in many versions is best rendered “Oh, the happiness of” and expresses the many delights of the one who feels the burden of guilt lifted.
b. Where David used three words for wrongdoing in Psalm 51, he used three figures of speech for God’s way of dealing with such conduct in this psalm.
i. They are “lifted up and carried away,”
ii. “hidden from God’s eye,”
iii. “no longer charged against the sinner.”
c. The expressions used by Bible writers to express forgiveness are meaningful, containing great insights into how they felt about both sin and the removal of it.
II. Misery of un-forgiven sin (vv. 3-4)
a. As the poet looked back, he took a leaf out of his life’s book and described his misery during the period of stubborn and willful silence.
b. What did David do from the day he sinned until the time he was willing to pour out his soul to God in brokenhearted repentance?
i. At first he probably refused to acknowledge his sin even to himself.
ii. Most likely, he continued to bluff and pose, playing the hypocrite and seeking daily to convince his neighbors that all was well.
iii. No confession came from his lips.
iv. Night after night, however, he could hear voices in his inner self accusing him of his vile deeds.
v. No sleep came; remorse and dread burdened him.
III. Way to forgiveness (v. 5)
a. How does forgiveness come?
i. Forgiveness comes only by complete confession to God, and when practical and wise, before the religious community.
1. If you have sinned against God, you need to ask God for forgiveness.
2. If you have sinned against someone else, you need to ask that person for forgiveness.
a. It doesn’t matter if they forgive you or not, the point is that you have followed through in obedience before God.
ii. In this verse, David mentioned only that he confessed his transgressions to God.
iii. This neither confirms nor denies whether he said anything to others about his terrible deeds.
b. The Old and New Testaments agree on the necessity for confession of sin.
i. The Old Testament says in Proverbs 28:13, “He that covers his sins shall not prosper: but those that confess and forsake them shall have mercy.”
ii. The New Testament in 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
iii. If the condition is not met, the blessing cannot be received.
IV. Another word from the forgiven sinner (vv. 6-11)
a. The remainder of the psalm seems at first reading to be anticlimactic
i. It is, however, the most important of all, for it contains practical advice to others who may be in a state of un-confessed sin.
b. Do not be stubborn!
i. Follow the example of David here and his own experience: you will find relief when the sin is forgiven.
The sooner we repent and call out for mercy, the sooner joy and peace can come to our lives. No one can have perfect peace within or render effective service in God’s kingdom as long as sin mars fellowship with God. Because God loves us, he is always ready to forgive , but we must take the initiative to repent and seek his favor.