We cannot but agree with Ewald in thinking that the word in the title "Maskil" does not refer to any instrument, nor even to mean "Didactic" but a reference to something artistic in the melody, peculiarly calling for the skill of the singer, or harpist. Similarly in Psalm 47:8. Perhaps a Psalm of pardoning mercy was set to some special music, which it required forgiven ones to appreciate, like some of our hymn tunes.
The mention of transgression, iniquity, sin, recalls the name of the Lord proclaimed to Moses in the cleft of the rock, "forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin" (Exodus 34:7). The imputing and non-imputing were well understood in David's day; for we read in 2 Sam 19:19, Shemei confessing sin and yet asking, "Let not my lord impute it."
We generally take up this Psalm as if it was for the members of Christ alone; but we should not forget that the Head himself traversed the way of forgiveness. He stood for us, in our room, in our very place.
He stood as substitute, and all the sins of all "that great multitude which no man can number" were upon him, laid upon him by imputation.
So dreadful was his position, so truly awful did it seem to him to be reckoned a sinner, that even this, apart from the wrath and curse, would have been sufficient to make him cry "O blessed the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin."
He was dumb for our sakes; his bones wasted away; he groaned from day to day, and during the lonesome hours of midnight was kept awake by our woe.
His moisture (v4) or vigour of vitality was changed, "by means of the drought of summer" (Hengstenberg), from the excessive heat of wrath, resembling the most parching heats of summer's hottest days, when the sun is fiercely shedding down his intolerable rays on the arid earth.
In this state He acknowledged our sin; it was only ours he had to acknowledge; he spread it out before God on the cross; he continued to do so until it was forgiven to him as our substitute.
Our head could use these words in that one way. But in a personal sense, from personal experience of wrath, from a personal consciousness of our own sin, every member of His cannot but use the Psalm as expressing what they have passed through.
Yes they have each felt the silence, the waxing old, the roaring, the drying up of moisture, and the spreading out before the Lord of the whole sin and misery of their case; and each has also found the forgiveness (v5).
"You forgave the iniquity of my sin"
Here is a pause. Here is Selah. Stay and ponder.
"On this account, because you forgive sin, -
"On this account shall every godly one pray to you."
Forgiveness is so great, a blessing that all else may follow. If the Lord forgives our sin, what next may we not ask?
On this account, then, His people pray. Our Head intercedes, because through Him we have already got pardon, and may get any other real blessing.
Yes, we may get such blessing that "at the time of the floods of great waters" whenever that is, in personal or national calamity, or the waves of the fiery flood, like that of Noah, that shall yet sweep away the ungodly - even then we shall be altogether safe.
The forgiven man is hidden, instructed, taught, guided by God's tender care (v7,8).
A Selah occurs at verse 7. Solemn truth has been spoken, which the worshipper may muse upon till it sinks into his heart; and then a voice from heaven tells that His eye is ever on them. - "And (says Horne) next to the protecting power of God's being, is the securing prospect of his eye."
The forgiven man is sanctified, yielding up his own will to the Lord's, not like the "horse and mule that have no understanding, whose ornament is bit and bridle, because they will not come near unless by force."
Unhappy those who do not pardon! "Many sorrows" are their portion; while mercy compasses the forgiven, so that "they are glad, they rejoice, they shout for joy!"
Already they anticipate the joy of the kingdom, "glad and rejoice;" though it is when the kingdom comes that they shall say emphatically to one another, feeling mercy compassing them about, and no flood, nor drop of flood touching one of them, "Alleluia! the Lord God Omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him!" (Rev 19:7)
Even then they may use this song of Zion; for the Head and his members will often review, as is done here: the way of forgiveness traversed by the Righteous.