From the Reformer
David, after enduring long and dreadful torments, when God was severely trying him, by showing him the tokens of his wrath, having at length obtained favor, applies this evidence of the divine goodness for his own benefit, and the benefit of the whole Church, that from it he may teach himself and them what constitutes the chief point of salvation. All men must necessarily be either in miserable torment, or, which is worse, forgetting themselves and God, must continue in deadly lethargy, until they are persuaded that God is reconciled towards them. Hence David here teaches us that the happiness of men consists only in the free forgiveness of sins, for nothing can be more terrible than to have God for our enemy; nor can he be gracious to us in any other way than by pardoning our transgressions.
—John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms
Pulling It Together
This Psalm is a maskil of David. Maskil is a Hebrew word meaning someone who is sensible or prudent. In other words, a maskil is a teachable person. When the word maskil introduces a Psalm, it is typically considered a song that teaches a particular lesson.
This Psalm then, calls people to be sensible by acknowledging their sin. God’s hand will be heavy upon them until they do. Therefore, prudence dictates repentance because the one who stubbornly clings to his wrong ways will never be happy. The only way to be truly happy is to confess and trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Personalities of Faith is a ten-session Bible study for youth. The goal of the series is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith." By showing biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.