The Hiding Place

Psalm 32

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 32

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.


Jesus said, "The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins". (Mark 2:10) ("Son of Man" was a name that Jesus called himself.)

Psalm 32

  (This is) a maskil by David

v1, v2   A man is very happy when (God):
  - forgives his disobedience
  - covers his sin
  - does not put it against him when he does bad things
  There is nothing false in his spirit

v3, v4  When I said nothing my bones became weak and I cried all day long.
  In the day and in the night your hand was heavy on me.
  I felt dried up as in the heat of summer. SELAH

v5   (Then) I told you about my sin
  and I did not hide the bad things that I had done.
  I said, "I will show my disobedience to the LORD".
  You forgave the bad things that I had done in my disobedience.   SELAH

v6   So let everyone that enjoys your kind love pray to you.
  (Let them do it) while they can still find you.
  Then the great floods of water will not come near to them.

v7   You are my hiding place.
  You will keep me safe from trouble.
  Your songs will be all around me now that I am free.   SELAH

v8   I will tell you the way,
  I will teach you where you must go.
  My eye will be your guide.

v9   Do not be like the horse, or the mule.
  They do not understand.
  They need special bits in their mouths to make them obey you.

v10   Bad people will be very sad.
  People that trust in the LORD
  will find his kind love all round them.

v11   So, all you good people that have clean hearts:
 - show everyone that the LORD has made you happy
  - praise him in words and in music

New Words

( ) ~ these words are not in the Hebrew Bible

maskil ~ we are not sure what this means; perhaps "teaching"

forgives ~ gives away (God GIVES our sin to Jesus to carry AWAY)

disobedience ~ when we do not obey

sin ~ when we do not obey the rules of God

against ~ does not agree with

spirit ~ the part of us that lives when our body dies

LORD ~ a special name for God; only his people use it

flood ~ when water covers the land

mule ~ an animal that looks like a horse

The Story of Psalm 32

David probably wrote Psalm 32 after he had slept with Bathsheba. She was the wife of Uriah. David sent Uriah to die in battle. The David married Bathsheba. For a while he did not ask God to forgive him. As a result he was very unhappy. Then he told God that he was sorry. God forgave him. David became happy again. Christians have a special word for being sorry for their sins. The word is repentance. There are 7 Repentance Psalms. The others are 6,38 51,102, 130 and 143.

What Psalm 32 means

Verses 1 – 2: Here David used 3 different words to describe disobeying God. I have translated them:

  ·   DISOBEDIENCE, or not doing what the Bible tells us to do: this hurts God

  ·   SIN, or doing what we want to do; often we cannot stop ourselves: this hurts God and us

  ·   DOING BAD THINGS which means doing things that may hurt other people: it also hurts God and us

These 3 words include all the ways that we disobey God. "Disobey" means "not obey". Really, David’s 3 words mean the same thing; disobeying God. Christians usually call this by the word "sin". Sin is a small word with I (me) in the middle.

David then uses 3 different words for what God does;

  ·   God FORGIVES our sin: he GIVES it to Jesus, who carries it AWAY

  ·   God COVERS our sin: he does not punish us for doing it

  ·   God does not PUT (or HOLD) our sin AGAINST US: he will save us from going to hell for doing it

God forgives us because he loves us. He sent his son Jesus to earth to die for us. When Jesus died, God punished Jesus instead of punishing us. "Punish" means "hurt someone because they broke the rules". In this way God covers our sin. When we die nobody will be able to hold it against us, or use it to send us to hell. Hell is a place for punishment after people die. So, we must be like David. We must ask God to forgive us, to cover our sin and not hold it against us.

Verses 3 – 5: At first, David did not ask God to forgive him. He knew that he had disobeyed God. This made David very sad. But then he did ask God to forgive him and God did. God will always forgive us if we ask him. It does not matter what we have done. Remember, Psalm 32:1-2 includes ALL the ways that we do not obey God.

Verses 6 – 7: Now it is different. David did not feel God’s hand "heavy on" him. (verse 4) ("heavy on me" means that David thought that God was "angry with him".) David now felt free. So he tells everybody that loves God, "Pray to God". He means "if you sin ask God to forgive you; do not wait until you are very sad". David feels that God is his hiding place. The "great flood of water" are the "bad times". They will come, but will not hurt us. God will hide us and make us safe.

Verses 8 – 9: These words are not David speaking to us. They are God speaking to us. It is a special promise of God. God will always show us what to do if we ask him. We must not be like animals, like the horse and the mule. We must be like people that God can talk to.

Verses 10 – 11: Though bad people will be sad, people that trust God will not be sad. The only way to be really happy is to ask God to forgive your sin. Then you will have a clean heart. Here, "the heart" means the "real you" inside you. "clean" means God sees you as "if you had never disobeyed him".

Something to do

1.  Read Psalm 6, or one of the other Repentance Psalms.

2.  Try to understand forgiveness. When we sin, God should punish us. But he punished Jesus. He GAVE AWAY (forgave) our sin to Jesus. This means that God punished Jesus, not us. This happened when the Romans killed Jesus. We must tell God that we believe that he did this for us.


© 2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)

January 2001

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