The blessing and joy of being right with God
1) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2) Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3) For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4) For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5) 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
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.
7) You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
8) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9) 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.
10) Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11) Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
Psalm 32:1-11 ESV
There are two kinds of people in this world. Those people whose sins are forgiven and those whose sins are not forgiven. Those people who have the joy and the peace of knowing their sins have been dealt with and those who are living under the wrath of God, knowingly or unknowingly.
Our text says: blessed are those whose sins are covered and forgiven. Twice in this text it repeats the word blessed. This word can be translated from the Hebrew word to mean happy. The happiest people in the world are people who have a clean heart, whose sins are forgiven. Jesus therefore said: “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
It may be a struggle for you to believe that it is a blessed and happy thing for your sins to be forgiven. That might sound a strange thing to say. But isn’t that the message and “gospel” of the world? The world says: it is fun and exiting to sleep around and to do your own thing!
”Live a little” they say. “Have some fun” “Don’t be a spoil sport” “Life is passing you by” etc. Many people who say these things to us mean to say: live for yourself. Live life on the wild side, it will make you happy! What did Satan say when he tempted Eve? you shall surely not die if you eat of that tree, but be like God! The world always wants to give the impression that we will miss out on some great thing, that we will miss out on real happiness when we don’t live for sin and self. But they have it wrong off course! This psalm reminds us that forgiven people, people who are right with God should be the happiest and joyful of all people. Twice its starts by saying: blessed is the one….blessed is the man….fortunate, full of life-joy and satisfaction, fortunate are those whose transgressions are forgiven and whose sins are covered!
Verse 10 says on the contrary “many are the sorrows of the wicked.” We may add: unending are the sorrows of those whose sins remain unforgiven!!! The wicked will even if they enjoy this live and the sinful pleasures of the world have many sorrows. And in the life to come their sorrows will never stop!! In hell the worm does not die and the fire is never quenched!
- The time before forgiveness
— before we were born again
Our text says: “when I kept silent my bones wasted away” “my strength dried up as by the heat of summer” Have you ever felt this friend? “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.” Before we became Christians the wrath of God was upon us. We were without God and hope in this world. We were alienated from God. We were unforgiven. Many people become physically sick because of their sins, “when I kept silent my bones wasted away.” Sin can cause sicknesses, but not always. Then the Holy Spirit made us aware of our sinful condition and we begin to groan all our days. We start to cry out to God for mercy! Have you come to that point friend? Have you groaned because of your sins? It is grace of God to come to this point. When God convicts us of our sins, the results are groaning. The load becomes too heavy to bear. I know when the Holy Spirit started to convict me of my sins how I groaned all day long. For weeks on end the hand of the Lord was heavy upon me! I could think of nothing else but my sins, my sins were ever before me.
We can appreciate what the heat of summer is nowadays. The heat of summer causes death to plants. It causes things to die. Before we were Christians we were spiritually dead. There was no spiritual life in us and eventually in this state we pine away unless God saves us!
— after we are born again
But we can also live as Christians in a state where our sins are not forgiven. And we can also feel that God’s hand is day and night upon us. When we sin as Christians and do not confess our sins our fellowship with God is broken. We feel that the nearness of God is gone. We can even become physically sick. We lose our vitality. We lose our vigor. We feel that we don’t have strength to go on. We need God’s parental forgiveness. God disciplines us. When you are born again you always will remain Gods child, but if you persist in sin and cover your sin, you will lose that sweet fellowship with God. I believe that is what David is speaking about here. He was a child of God, but he kept his sin to himself. He did not want to bring it to the light. He covered his sins. There was deceit in his spirit (verse 2). He held on to his sin although he knew about it. Some commentators propose that David wrote this psalm after the prophet Nathan came to him after his sin with Bathsheba. That could be true but we cannot be sure that this psalm gives us this context. David no doubt sinned many times in his life and this psalm could have been written at another point in his life.
If we as children of God keep secret sins in our lives and hold on to it we will experience the same groaning, the same loss of vitality and vigor, the same weakness that David experienced when he kept silent about his sins. It will not go well with you if you hide your sins.
- The time of forgiveness
–The time of forgiveness for anyone who has ever lived is based on the intervention of Jesus Christ into history. Jesus’ perfect righteousness accounted to the believer, Jesus’ death on our behalf, his atoning sacrifice, and his resurrection from the dead is the basis of forgiveness of all who will be right with God. Jesus did not make forgiveness of sins only possible for those who would believe. He accomplished and secured forgiveness on the cross for those who would believe. Jesus cried out at the cross: “it is accomplished!!” In David’s time people were forgiven based on believing in the promises and prophesies concerning Jesus Christ. The goats and lambs that were killed in the Temple and tabernacle were only types and shadows of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that would take away our sins. After Jesus Christ was sacrificed for us we are forgiven by faith in Him and what He did on our behalf. The ground for our forgiveness has been accomplished by Jesus Christ’s finished work. If Jesus didn’t die and rise from the dead there would be no forgiveness of sins for anyone, there would be no one who could get right with God.
— But then the time of forgiveness for anyone is when a person trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 10). Many sorrows will be the wicked’s portion but steadfast love, God’s love, surrounds those who trust in God! Judicial forgiveness takes place. It is a once of act. Never to be repeated. It is based on the righteousness and atoning sacrifice and resurrection of Christ. It is based on the Person and work of Jesus Christ. When we repent (which includes confession) of our sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation the wicked are counted righteous and we are shown to be born again. God will never disown you. Once a child of God is always a child of God. Remember confession and repentance does not merit forgiveness. Conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, a person’s confession of sins and repentance are gifts from God bought by the blood of Jesus. So when is the time of forgiveness? When we confess our sins to God in faith (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13). 1 John 1:8 says if we say we have not sinned we make God to be a liar and the truth is not in us.
–But now after we are born again we still do sin. So how are our sins taken away? When we confess our sins. Repentance involves confession of sin, you cannot repent without confession of sin. Because if you are unaware of your sins what would you repent of? Therefore Proverbs 28:13 says: “he who confesses his sins and forsakes it will receives mercy” and “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us form our unrighteousness, but if we say we have not sinned we make God to be a liar.” So what about the child of God? If he sins, will he go to hell? No! There is something called parental forgiveness. If we don’t confess our sins when we are God’s children we can feel what David felt in this psalm. We can feel far away from God and as if God’s hand is heavy upon us but we never become not God’s children if we believe in Him.
Confession must be thorough. Verse 5 states: 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. Three different words are being used for sin as it is in verse 1 and in verse 5 . Transgression, pesha. 2. Sin, chataah. 3. Iniquity, avon. The first signifies the passing over a boundary, doing what is prohibited. The second signifies the missing of a mark, not doing what was commanded; but is often taken to express sinfulness, or sin in the future, producing transgression in the life. The third word, iniquity signifies what is turned out of its proper course or situation; any thing morally distorted or perverted. Iniquity: what is contrary to equity or justice. So when David is confessing his sin, he is confessions sins of commission, sins against the law of God, sins of omission, of missing God’s standard and thirdly acts not meeting God’s perfect standards. So what this verse tells us is that when we confess our sins we must be thorough. Do not leave one stone unturned. Go deep in confession of your sins! Uncover everything that needs to be uncovered!
–Some words concerning confession. We should always confess all the sins that we are aware of to God. Every sin we commit is against God. That is what David did here. He confessed his transgressions to God (verse 5). He uncovered his sins. And when he did that God forgave him. But some sins we should confess towards a group of individuals. James 5:16 states that we should confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed. If the sin you committed was against a group, confess towards the group if at all possible. If the sin was against someone and he knows about it confess it towards him. And if the sin was a private affair confess it towards God. 1 John 1:7 states: “if we walk in the light as God is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins.” What has helped me a lot to overcome sinful habits is to confess my sin towards someone else who is mature in the faith. Some Christian groups go to the extreme like KwaSizabantu who tell people that if you don’t confess all your sins to another person you cannot be forgiven, and that is wrong. But there is value in having an accountability partner in your life. Sometimes to be open about your sins with a brother or sister can help you to overcome that sin. I have experienced this in my own life on more than one occasion.
- The time after forgiveness (the results of forgiveness)
— (Access to God) Access to God through prayer (verse 6). “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found.” Through Jesus Christ we have access to the Holy of holies. We have access to God Himself by the blood of Christ! How wonderful!
We don’t only have sins forgiven by the blood of Jesus, God has brought us to Himself! As John Piper in his book, God is the gospel says: if God forgave our sins, delivered us from the punishment of hell, if God set us free from our sins, but not bring us to communion with Himself, the gospel would be no gospel. The gospel is good news because God brings us to Himself and to enjoy his presence! The gospel is good because it gives us access to the everlasting enjoyment of God! Access to God! God can be found! That is amazing!
— (Protection) God is our hiding place in times of distress. As our text says: in the rush of great waters it will not come near you. When the Bible speaks about waters, many times it refers to crisis-is (difficult times) in a person’s life. It talks about opposition and things that threaten your physical and spiritual life. Think of the things in your life that are threatening your physical and spiritual well-being. God says in this psalm those things will not ultimately overwhelm you! It will not come near you! God will protect the forgiven from the damnation of sin. God will protect the forgiven from the penalty of sin. God will protect the believer from the power of sin and eventually in heaven from the presence of sin. Protection! God is a might fortress. We are safe with Him against the curse of the devil. God is our hiding place. He gives us security.
— (Preservation) God preserves us in times of trouble. Our salvation is kept by the power of God. (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Jude 24). God keeps us from finally falling away. He is the one who is faithful to keep his promises to keep us from stumbling and making shipwreck of our faith. He holds us and keeps us. He will preserve us blameless, body, soul and spirit unto the day of Christ, because He is faithful.
— (Redemption) God surrounds us with shouts of deliverance. True forgiveness goes along with deliverance. As the hymn writer says: he breaks the bonds of cancelled sin. Deliverance from the power of sins is a sure sign that God has forgiven you. Not complete deliverance here and now. Not sinlessness, but significant deliverance. The godly are not only forgiven but redeemed by the blood of Christ. God delivers us from the power of sins. Ephesians 1:7 says that by the riches of God’s grace we have the forgiveness of sins, the redemption by his blood. These two things: forgiveness and deliverance from the power of sins, go hand in hand. The text says here God surrounds us with shouts of deliverance. Is there a shout in your heart that God has set you free from your besetting sins? There should be! Think of the road God has taken you on! Two years ago, five years ago, twenty years ago, has God delivered you from more sins that what you struggled with in the beginning of your Christian walk?
— (Adoption) Our text says God surrounds us with shouts of deliverance. Question: where do these shouts come from? From other Christians for sure. In other words, God does not only grant us access to Himself but adopts us into His family and gives us fellowship with other Christians. We are part of a family of believers! We are not meant to be alone in this world. We are meant to bear each other’s burdens and to encourage each other. Rejoice with those rejoice! Weep with those who weep! Associate with those of low estate the apostle Paul commands us (Romans 12:17-18). Question: are you enjoying fellowship with other Christians? Do you feel they are family to you?
— (Guidance) and instruction and counsel from God. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Gods promises to guide and lead us. Take note the certainty here: God says: I will, I will. God will do this guiding through His word, through preaching, through counsel from other Christians or through various other means: providence, circumstances, open and closed doors and so on. We must always submit to one another. That is what 1 Peter 5:1 commands us. We don’t have to be confused about God’s will and plans for our lives. God brings certainty and clarity by His word. He promised to do this.
— Warning: verse 9 “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.” A mule and donkey always goes its own way. I saw this recently when driving through Botswana. Many donkeys just stand in the middle of the highway, unwilling to move regardless of the danger. We shouldn’t be so stubborn. Donkeys don’t want to be led or guided. We who are forgiven shouldn’t be like that. It’s interesting that God gives this verse after the others. Maybe because we are still so stubborn as children of God. Many times we are stubborn and self-willed. But as forgiven people who are right with God we cannot remain in a perpetual state of stubbornness. Why do I say that? Listen to this warning in the book of Deuteronomy: this is God’s word to the Israelites just before they went into the promised land:
“Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. The Lord will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the Lord and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the Lord will blot out his name from under heaven. And the Lord will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law” (Deuteronomy 29:18-21 ESV). I say it again: we cannot stay in a perpetual state of disobedience and stubbornness and think we will be safe and secure. If that characterizes your life you are probably not forgiven at all!
— The steadfast love of God surrounds us (Ephesians 3:16-19).
I believe in view here is also the love from other brothers and sisters in Christ. When we are forgiven we are surrounded by other Christians and we love one another and the love of the Holy Spirit is not only poured out into our hearts but also all around us. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent and therefore we are surrounded by Him everywhere we go. God’s favor is upon us and as Romans 8:38,39 says: no one and nothing will be able to separate us from His love.
— Inexpressible joy (verse 12). “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” Now we end where we started. What is the mark of a man or woman who is forgiven? He has joy, inexpressible joy! He rejoices in suffering as Paul did. He has the fruit of the Spirit which is joy! He is truly blessed because he knows that God pardoned him, forgiven him not because he was clever or because he really prayed hard or fasted for many days, or because he really tried to be good and do the right thing. No! He has joy because he knows that God saved a wretched sinner like himself, by sheer grace. Not of his own doing, but by God’s doing! By Christ! By Christ alone and because of that he is glad and rejoices.
The forgiven man should not only rejoice but as the psalmist commands us: “shout for joy, you upright in heart!” You who love the Lord and seek to serve him shout for joy! Not irreverently, not to show off, shout humbly, with godly fear as Psalm 2 says: rejoice with trembling, but shout in your heart that the world may see you are blessed because of Jesus. God threatens and warns us that terrible things will happen to us if we don’t have joy!
Listen to Moses’ warnings to the disobedient Israelites before they entered the promised land:
““All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things,” (Deuteronomy 28:45-47 ESV)
The joy of the Lord is our strength. If God has forgiven you, if you know what Jesus went through to accomplish your salvation and if you know that you are right with God how can you not beam with joy?
This is the blessedness of being right with God:
- We have access to God: we can pray to God and enjoy fellowship with Him
- We are protected against the curse of sin: we have a hiding place!
- We are being preserved from trouble and from finally falling away
- We are surrounded by shouts of deliverance: we are being delivered from the power of sins
- We are adopted into God’s family, we have fellowship with Christians
- We are being guided and instructed and counseled by God
- We are surrounded by God’s invincible love
- We are filled with the joy of God
Praise be to God!