Psalm 32 – The joy of forgiveness!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 21, 2011 AM
Who are the happiest people on earth you know? No, it is not necessarily those who go to Disneyland! Usually it is someone who has something wonderful to share like the birth of a baby or an anniversary of some kind. That is the way it was with King David in Psalm 32. He had something wonderful he just had to share. David had experienced the joy of repentance! In fact, in the process he had promised God that if he would be forgiven of his sin then he would spend the rest of his days telling others about the forgiveness he had experienced. This Psalm will give us an account of how David does that. David shares with us about the joy of forgiveness!
Yates, in writing about this Psalm, states, “Immediately we are confronted with the ringing declaration that not only gives an accurate picture of the experience of a human soul but rewards us with the universal truth that will transform lives!” Words seem to fail David as he describes for us his experience of being forgiven by God. He joyously sings, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Forgiveness has brought joy and happiness. It always does. The holy heart of God had been fully satisfied with what David had done and found delight in taking David’s sin away! David now shares with us how he experienced the joy of forgiveness!
What is the most awful thing that has ever happened to you? Can you remember how it felt and what it was like? David remembered what his sin felt like. It was horrible. Sin should always be awful for the person who has a personal relationship with God. In pausing to look back at that horrible nightmare, David tells us how sin ruled him and how he suffered from its affects. For David, because of the joy of forgiveness…
I. Sin was now a dark memory! (Vv. 3-4)
1. The dark memory of sin fades in the shining light of God’s love!
1) David gives us a vivid picture of what it is like for the person who has a conscience concerning their sin condition (vv. 3-4). While he refused to acknowledge his sin (kept silent), his bones wasted away! David would cry, “O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” (Psalm 22:2 NIV) It is because, for the person who is in sin, God always seems silent.
2) David knew that was a horrible place to be. The early Christians called it the “dark night of the soul.” It is as if the light of God and his eternal presence were gone. For David it was true. Now David could thank God because it proved his conscience was still alive and that the hand of God was heavy upon him! He groaned under its weight all day long and his strength was sapped because of it!
3) In another dramatic example the church at Ephesus had forgotten their “first love” (Jesus), and he reminds them to “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:5 NIV) Come back to God who loved you! Peter would remark that the person who has no conscience of his sin “is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9 NIV) David was not only conscience of his sin, but his sin was now a dark memory because of the joy of forgiveness!
EXAMPLE: I will always remember holding my father’s hand as Ed tried to do something to revive him. It was hopeless and he died. It is an awful memory indelibly etched into my mind. However, more awful and dark is the memory of not having Christ in control of my life! Sin’s dark stain should always bring revulsion and horror to the believer. If it does not then, the question begs to be answered, “Do you really know Christ as your Savior and Lord?” For the Godly person, sin is a dark memory best left behind through the joy of forgiveness!
Have you ever been in a deep fog? (No, not merely mentally, but rather an actual physical fog where you cannot see but a few feet in front of you.) You strain to see what is coming ahead and you can’t. You want to see clearly through the mist. You want to know what is ahead of you. Well, like a person coming out of a fogbank and into the sunlight, David finally comes to himself and sees clearly the way God provides restoration and forgiveness. Being in sin, for the believer, is like being in a deep spiritual fog. The joy of forgiveness brings us to…
II. Acknowledgment and confession of our sin! (v. 5)
1. Uncovering sin means prying loose the hardened shell of a sinner’s heart and letting God cover you with his love instead!
1) David acknowledged his sin, his iniquity, and he confessed his transgressions to the Lord. It was all opened to the Lord. David confessed these three things about himself: 1) his transgressions (peh’-shah — meaning rebellion, 2) his iniquity (aw-vone’ — perversity, warped nature), and 3) his sin (khat-taw-aw’ — habitually missing the mark!). Notice how David was specific in his confession. He did not try to conceal his problem. He knew he was a rebellious, perverted, sinner!
2) The good news for us today is the grace of God because of Jesus Christ! The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV) When we confess our sins, we have Jesus to take them to for forgiveness! Jesus sympathizes with our weakness! He does not like our sin, but He does love us and we can acknowledge our sin freely and openly to him!
3) David could never have known what it was like to be forgiven if he had not confessed and acknowledged his sin. In a shout of praise, he yells, “And you forgave the guilt of my sin!” It is the cry of someone who knows that no dark blotched record remains. David would later write, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him!” (Psalm 103:11-13 NIV) David knew this to be true because he willingly acknowledged and confessed his sin!
EXAMPLE: I remember my Dad was always tougher on us if we tried to lie about something we had done. He’d say, “Boys, it will be a lot easier on you if you just tell the truth.” Sometimes I would wonder about that because we always suffered the consequences of the trouble we were in no matter what. Yet I do remember Dad would be easier on us if we confessed it and were truly sorry. We still had to face the consequences but it was easier! His punishment was not as harsh then. God tells us that if we are truly repentant, acknowledge and confess our sin he will never bring our sin to mind again! How wonderful to know that! It brings the joy of forgiveness!
If you had something wonderful to tell others especially if it meant life or death, wouldn’t you want to share it? We now find David bringing an exhortation to all who might listen to what happened to him and the joy of forgiveness. He wants every soul to be certain of the joys that repentance and pardon bring. As one pardoned, he shares the joy of forgiveness with…
III. A grateful testimony! (Vv. 6-7)
1. God is the sweet sugar of forgiveness to any sin-soured soul!
1) David’s song of joy is expressed best when he encourages us to, “Let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found!” David had come to know that God alone could be his hiding place, his protection, and his deliverance! For the Christian, Paul writes, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3 NIV) He knew this is how the believer could “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator!” (3:10) Paul continues, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIV) Only those with a grateful testimony of being forgiven could do such a thing because they were changed!
2) This is why David could sing, “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” For the Christian, Jesus is our hiding place! Faith in Christ gives us the assurance of the gripping power of God. For this reason Jesus declared, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28 NIV) Once we are forgiven of sin, we are forgiven and hidden in God!
3) Anyone who knows Jesus understands how He delivers anyone who trusts in Him. Paul wrote about how he had faced extreme trials yet Jesus always delivered him. He said that Jesus “has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us!” (2 Corinthians 1:10 NIV) Paul’s grateful testimony, like David’s, is what anyone can enjoy when experiencing the joy of forgiveness! God does deliver us through faith in Jesus Christ!
EXAMPLE: I remember wondering, “How can something so sour make something so sweet and good?” However, that’s the way it is with lemons made into lemonade. My grandmother used to say, “Enough sugar can make anything sweet, except your grandfather!” Bitterness of the soul is usually caused by sin left unconfessed. A grateful heart begins with a cleansed soul. As I stated earlier, “God is the sweet sugar of forgiveness to any sin-soured soul!” The grateful testimony of David rings clear through the ages and is so much sweeter now because of Jesus Christ! William Kirkpatrick wrote, “Redeemed–how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am. Redeemed, redeemed, Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed, redeemed, His child, and forever, I am.” It comes from the grateful testimony of the joy of forgiveness!
Finally, we see how God speaks to those He loves. God will be our teacher, our counselor, and our leader (v. 8). Far too often, we are like stubborn horses, or worse, like foolish mules! Mule-headed we will not acknowledge our sin and experience the joy of forgiveness for ourselves. Instead, we will stubbornly remain in our sinful condition and wonder why so many bad things are happening to us! (Vv. 9-10) David earnestly pleads: “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” We can as well if only we remember sins dark memory, confess and acknowledge our sin, and then we will be grateful in our hearts to God! It is found in the joy of forgiveness!
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2011 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.