Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 153: Psalm 32

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 32

Forgiven!

BACKGROUND

This psalm is titled “Maskil,” which is probably a literary or musical term and which some translators believe means “instruction” or “contemplation.” There certainly is instruction in this psalm, instruction that is worth contemplating!

Part of this psalm is quoted by Paul in Romans 4:6 – 8. The passage in Romans explains that we are not made right with God by works, but by faith in God. First Paul uses the example of Abraham, and then he brings up David.

“David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven;
Whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him
”!

REFLECTION

As I’ve pondered this psalm this week I have been amazed again at the unity of God’s Word, of that scarlet thread that runs through it pointing to Christ. David, many years before Jesus, knew God’s forgiveness, knew the joy and blessedness of grace and mercy. We, this side of the cross, understand more of “how” it works, but we can learn so much from this psalm.

What gets in the way of our coming to God for forgiveness, of knowing the safety of His love and care, of making Him our hiding place?

According to this psalm it is guile or self-deceit (2b). As I read this, I John 1: 8-9 came to mind: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So in both the Old and New Testaments we are told that self-deception is at the root of not admitting our sin.

Perhaps we think we are good enough on our own to come to God. We don’t think we’re really such bad sinners. Perhaps sometimes we think of sin as simply as something we do, when sin really is given birth in our thoughts and attitudes. When I don’t measure up to the standard that God sets, I sin. When I don’t believe God, I sin.

Probably most of you knew you couldn't measure up to God's standard and came to Him for forgiveness when you trusted in Jesus' death for you. But I think often we need to be reminded that as we initially came to God in humility, so we continue in Him in humility.

Have you ever struggled with admitting your sin? I have. I have lain in bed at night rationalizing and justifying something (deceiving myself). I have fumed to myself during the daytime, “But I have a right to….” or “It’s not fair…” or “How can that be so bad?” I’ve compared myself with those I see around me rather the plumb line of God’s word. And verses 3 – 4 give an apt picture of how I felt: drained, preoccupied, dried up, weighted down. It’s hard work to rationalize sin.

It’s not complicated to be forgiven; all I need to do is ask God. But the asking sometimes comes through struggle: humility and a willingness to admit that I am not sufficient in myself to come to God. It takes an honest, hard look my heart, at what rears itself up in front of God.

What did David do? He was honest. He admitted his sin to God and laid it out in the open for God to see. He confessed his transgression to the Lord.

And he was forgiven!!

What relief and comfort follow confession. God is now our safe place. Even in the midst of trouble (of a flood!) we are safe in Him.

When we are forgiven, when we keep short accounts with God – He promises to teach us, “to guide us with His eye.” Like David, I long to be easily guided. I don’t want to balk against the way God has chosen for me. I don’t want to hang onto my own way, my own “rights” and be difficult to lead.

I want to trust the Lord and be surrounded by His lovingkindness. I want to experience the joy that comes through resting in His righteousness.

What about you?

"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. Behold the man who is blessed; blessed in the state of his mind, his guileless spirit, his contrite heart, the fruit of the spirit of grace; blessed in the forgiveness of a forgiving God; a forgiveness, perfect, entire, lacking nothing, signified by sin "covered," "iniquity not imputed" of the Lord; blessed in the blessings which followed it. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Beneath the hollow of that hand which was once so heavy upon me, I can now repose. Thou art my hiding place, I dread thee no more; nay, I dwell in thee as my habitation, and my high tower, my covert, my safety, my house. Safe in thy love, whatever trouble may be my portion….” James Harrington Evans, M.A., 1785-1849.

APPLICATION

Take some time to read through this psalm meditatively and with honest reflection. Are you coming to the Lord in the deceit of self-sufficiency? Are you rationalizing some sinful attitude or action? If so, open your heart before the Lord and ask His forgiveness.

Then know that you are hidden in Him, surrounded by His mercy and lovingkindness! Experience the joy of resting in the righteousness that comes from grace.

PRAYER

Thank-you, Father, that You gave your Son so that we could be forgiven. Help us not to trample that gift with the prideful deceit that we are good enough on our own to approach You. Help us to be honest with ourselves and You about our hearts, to admit our sin openly and humbly to You, asking Your forgiveness. Thank-you for the joy and rest that we find in You in forgiveness!
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