In Psalm 32, David meditates on the great blessings of God’s forgiveness.
Its first two verses are familiar confessions:
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit (ESV).
The believer who trusts in the finished work of Christ is truly blessed. The blood of Christ covers the Christian’s sin. It’s easy to claim to be a Christian; however, without really examining your heart. The Lord counts no iniquity against the person who has no deceit within his or her spirit. Is there any deceit within your spirit? There are people who claim the name of Christ, yet their hearts are full of pride and self-righteousness. This comes to expression in judgmental words and legalistic actions. There are also people who manipulate and deceive others to promote their personal agendas for pleasure or power. Look into your own heart and examine your spirit. Are you deceiving others? Are you deceiving yourself? These are questions Psalm 32 calls you and me to ask prayerfully and answer honestly.
This psalm clearly shows the necessity for repentance. David confesses:
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah (Psalm 32:3-4, ESV)
David implies that failing to confess sin and repent from it can actually lead to physical as well as spiritual illness. Few authors paint such vivid word pictures as David: bones wasting away, groaning all day, God’s heavy hand pressing nightly and daily, and strength sapped as by summer’s heat.
Here in the Midwest, it was a dry summer. Streams disappeared. In the fields, corn curled. These recent visual impressions make David’s images come alive. Recent and ongoing physical struggles help me identify with the feelings David expresses. Don’t we all want to avoid wasting, groaning, and sapping?
In verse 5 (ESV), David tells us how to avoid physical distress as a result from unconfessed sin:
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Truly confession is good for the soul! It is even good for the body! Confession accompanied by repentance brings healing.
David then urges believers to seek God while he may be found (see also Isaiah 55:6).
Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah (6-7, ESV)
In the same breath, David confesses God as his protector and deliverer. The rush of great waters will not reach the believer. With David, we can confess: God is my hiding place; he preserves me from trouble and surrounds me with shouts of deliverance.
God speaks directly in the next two verses:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you (8-9, ESV).
God teaches and counsels us. Under his watchful care, he instructs us in the way we should go. He urges us not to be like a brute beast, desiring to go our own way. He wants us to long to be near him.
The wicked will experience many sorrows. But if we trust in the Lord, his steadfast love will surround us (10-11, ESV):
Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Because God’s unwavering and everlasting love surrounds us, we can be glad and rejoice. Those who have examined their hearts and purged them from pride and deceit are the truly upright. They can shout for joy.
May you be glad in the Lord and rejoice in him today! May you be upright in heart and shout for joy!