Psalm 32 - 6-26-05 (manuscript)
Have you every thought about wisdom? What it is, how to get it, why its important, what does it look like in everyday life? Have you ever received wisdom and not acted on it? - that wisdom becomes even more valuable to us because we know first hand of what the consequences of ignoring wisdom (bible calls it Folly).
I want to lead us into investigating the wisdom found in Psalm 32. As we look at, I want us to bring out our imaginations to see, feel and touch the wisdom that God has for us through his servant David. At its most basic meaning, wisdom is seeing things God’s way and living in that. Wisdom is not gained simply by reading wise things, however. It comes as we live those truths and it becomes a part of us. We have to continually call out for wisdom and once we receive it to live it, otherwise we become hypocrites who receive the Word of God and do not do it, like seeing ourselves in a mirror and walking away from it forgetting what we look like.
Psalm 32 on gives us an aspect of wisdom that is concerned with a posture before a Holy God and how that relates to the feelings, emotions and outlook we have on our own lives. This wisdom deals with the issue of Confession. This is wisdom that we as a body and even more so as a culture needs to embrace. Confession must be present in the Christian life, of course unless you have never sinned, so I guess this message is not for Pastor Mark because we all know that he never sins, right? Wrong. We all need confession, but this is certainly not encouraged by our culture. When was the last time you saw true confession and admission of wrong in a movie or on the nightly news? The culture around us very much values the idea of never being wrong and detests even more that there is truth that fall short of on our own. As we go through what David has written, I want us to see that God through David is calling us to confess our sins and enjoy the blessed thanksgiving of union with God. The structure that he uses is declaring a truth, rehearsing past experience, and exhorting as to how we should live. If you would, ask the Holy Spirit with me, even right now before we get into this Psalm where you are in these verses. I’ll ask us to think about that at the end again, but let’s get into this Psalm.
II. State of Blessing (1-2)
David opens this Psalm with a statement of truth. This is especially common through the Psalms because one aspect of living by faith is indeed knowing the truth. David writes, “Blessed is he… and blessed is the man (1-2)” He is relating to us how we or anyone who wants blessing can receive it. David draws a connection between the forgiveness of sins and blessing. To have our transgressions forgiven and our sin not count against us blesses us immensely. Think back to the time in your own walk of faith to when you came to Christ and first realized that you were forgiven of your sins and how blessed you felt at that moment, how free and wonderful a time that was. You were experiencing the truth of these verses. David here says that sin is in some way connected to this sense of blessedness.
The forgiveness of sins does bring blessing, but David pauses to remember back to a time in his life when this was not what he was experiencing…
III. Rehearsing the past (3-7)
He writes, “When I kept silent…” There was a time, David says that he kept silent about his sin. Maybe this was his infamous sin with Bastheba and Uriah, but it could have been any time he sinned. He was like us; we don’t just have one memory of sin in past. What David needed to do is implicit in the statement of his keeping silent. He needed to acknowledge his sin, but he wasn’t about to say anything. He did not want to admit what he had done was wrong. He stubbornly remained on his course. In today’s language he might have said something like, “I wasn’t that wrong, you just don’t understand”. Or maybe like many today he filled his life with other things so that he would not have to think about needing to confess anything before God. At any rate he remained silent – the wrong choice!
This silence led David into some specific feelings and he uses some powerful imagery to convey them. He writes in verse 3 and 4, “…my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” David was experiencing a deep, deep inward pain – a choking off of the soul. He felt like his bones were decaying, turning to powder and all he could do was moan all day long. Because he was silent, God’s hand was heavy upon him. Can you hear the weightiness of this? Of course God doesn’t really have hands as we know them, but this word picture is of God-sized hands pushing down upon him. Like a old junker being crushed down to a cube, David felt the pressure of God on all sides. David says it was not only when the sun was shining, but both day and night – it was incessant pressure upon him. The hand of God is not something you want against you. We’re told in 2 Samuel 6 that when the Philistines had the Ark of the Covenant, that God’s hand was against them and they had rat infestations and outbreaks of tumors.
And if pain within and pressure from above wasn’t enough, he was loosing strength. It was being sapped from him as in the heat of summer. This imagery reminds me of a time when I 10 or 12 and liked to play basketball on the church parking lot. This was out in the country and whenever it rained really hard the worms in the earth would escape the soaked ground and climb out on the pavement where the basketball hoop was. After the rain stopped, they remained and when the sun came out, they were literally toast. They were dried out by the heat and all that remained was a crust of what they had been. In order to play basketball, I either had to avoiding dribbling or remove each and every one before I played. David in remaining silent was feeling his life energy leaving him, becoming like those dried worms. He still had to be king during this whole experience, however. He still had responsibilities and decisions that needed to be made. He was experiencing the foolishness of remaining silent about the sin that was within.
I wonder if anyone here can relate to how David felt. Maybe there was a time in the past that you remained silent about sin and you felt the pain within, the pressure from above, and the loss of life-energy. In short you felt like the dried up worms. Maybe you can testify this morning that you are experiencing this right now. Maybe there is a longstanding hatred for a boss at work – dried up worms. Maybe you have not been honest in your business dealings – dried up worms. Maybe there are judgmental thoughts about a neighbor over how they live – dried up worms. Maybe there is something you said or did that hurt your husband or wife greatly and you refuse to admit guilt – dried up worms. Maybe there is something you said about someone else in this congregation that you know was not glorying to Christ – dried up worms.
Now it’s possible to have the feelings of pain, pressure and loss of strength apart from unconfessed sin. I don’t want us to think that every time we fill this way it is because of some deep-seeded sin. In fact, David writes about a different source of the same torment in the preceding Psalm (31:9-11). The differences there is that when he was feeling the same way, it was because of an outside source – his enemies were all around him and lies were being spread about him. He called on the Lord and knew that he could trust the Lord to save him no matter what he felt. The question is raised then, What hope is there when the only one you know you can turn to is the very one that you are refusing to talk to and whose hand is against you? Friends, you can’t get away from God! You only have two options. 1) Continue as present or 2) Stop being silent. Can I ask us this morning what are we to do?
What did David do? He shares with us what happened next. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Like a tree finally giving in to hurricane-force winds, David breaks. Your Bibles have selah’s that surround this verse because it is the climax of the song David writes. They are there to highlight this section. Please hear what David is saying. This is what the whole Psalm hinges on. David confesses. We read that David remembered the truth of vs 1&2. Men are blessed who are forgiven, have their sin covered and sin not counting against them. He entrusts himself to God. Like the Prodigal son, he realized even if his God was going to punish him, it was better than what he was experiencing now. He doesn’t demand anything from God, but responds humbly like the Ninevites responded to Jonah’s prophecy by saying “who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” David came to God broken for what he had done and “uncovered” his sin. Ironic isn’t it? To say that you acknowledge your sin to someone who you know knows everything? It’s what he needed to do though. He confessed (agreeing with God) that both what he did and the desire to do it were wrong and that he needed to depend on God. Notice the difference between us covering our own sin – resulting in inner pain, pressure from above, and loss of strength – and God’s covering – which brings about blessedness. It is the difference between putting salt on a rotting steak and having it transform into a fresh one. This is wisdom friends. Hear it and put it into practice! So David opens his mouth and confesses. What does God do? He forgave David – his guilt was removed. David was finally able to experience the truth that he states at the beginning of this Psalm.
Having the rehearsed the pain of his unrepentant sin and the breaking point of confessing his sins before God, David prays to God that everyone would experience this communion with God.
He writes, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” What he is experiencing is so great, so much better than what he was experiencing when he remained silent that he realizes there’s no need for anyone to feel like that. This blessedness that he is now feeling is available for everyone that confesses and prays to God. There is urgency in this, however. Who knows how much longer we have on this earth? The idea is that we need to confess our sins now while we have a chance. David is praising God because he is above the tumults of life. Certainly waters of hard situations rise even in the lives of the godly. We lose jobs, have difficult situations with out neighbors, struggle with illness and experience alienation from family members. What’s different is the realization that one can be present with God and realize that his protection is from God. How big is the situation we find ourselves compared to the God who hung stars in their places? Communion with God means depending on God’s strength, not ours. In Isaiah 30:15 God tells Israel, “in repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Depending on our own strength, we will experience what David experienced before confessing his sin.
David has thus far described his own experience of the torment of sin, confession of that sin, and the experience of having communion with God. He now turns to plead with us based on this experience.
IV. Exhortation from David (8-11)
David turns his direction to the audience and offers us counsel. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” To ignore what David is telling you is practically the definition of foolishness. If someone told you not to take I-94 into the city because there was construction taking it down to one lane, you wouldn’t take I-94! You’d heed the wisdom and take an alternate route. David has been there and is warning us – he is sharing with us what to do and not to do. The first thing he says is don’t be a horse.
“Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” God has given us understanding – he created us that way. We can and do make our own choices based on what we know, what our understanding is. David understood what he needed to do with his sin, but he remained silent. God wants to use us. He wants to use Crete Reformed Church to do great things in the kingdom. There is certainly much to be done here, but this work cannot be done without him and God does not want to force us to come to him. Oh, he most certainly could force us, but he chooses not to. He wants our wills to conform to his, not for him to force his will on us. When we sin and refuse to confess it we are merely being stubbornly disobedient. Sometimes confessing isn’t what we want to do, especially when we have hurt others, or what we have to confess might hurt others, but that doesn’t mean that it is not better for us to confess it. I know there have been times in my own life when I felt like this because I was harboring sin. There have been times when I’ve needed to confess to my wife ways that I have sinned against her and some she wasn’t even aware that I needed forgiveness for. Was this a pleasant experience? Not really, but it was good. It was good because I was admitting guilt and sin and agreeing with God that it was in fact sin. She forgave me and God forgave me and I was saved from the feeling of wasting away in my stubborn silence.
David continues, “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.” David experienced both of these and tells us the truth about them. He says that those that are not confessing their sin to God are really not trusting God for what is good in life. This is wickedness and only leads to woes. Those that do confess sins are trusting really God to take care of them and his love surrounds them.
Continuing on David gives an invitation. “Rejoice in the lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” David returns to the thought that he started the psalm with, namely the theme of true joy and blessing for the righteous, which are those that have their sins taken away, not counting against them. This Psalm ends with the invitation for all those that know the truth at the beginning to worship the Lord for his goodness in taking their sins away because they truly have something to be joyful about.
So what are we to do with what we’ve just looked at in this Psalm? 1) REMEMBER THE FORGIVENES THAT HAS BEEN GIVEN YOU BY GOD: Rehearse it in your families, with your friends. Rejoice in the God that protects, guides and forgives us. 2) CONFESS SIN THAT IS WEIGHING HEAVILY ON YOUR HEART NOW: Do it now, do not hold onto it – you need communion with God more than anything else in this world. When the torrents of life come upon you, will you be under your own power, or under the protection of God? You don’t want to remain a dried up worm because of unconfessed sin– there’s no reason to be because we find promised forgiveness in Christ Jesus! Is there something you need to confess to someone else? A spouse, boss, neighbor? Don’t underestimate the power of God in bringing forgiveness. 3) Share this Thankfulness with others – both for believers and unbelievers. It is a powerful evangelistic tool to share the personal testimony of forgiveness of sin. When a non-believer hears how you have been forgiven it gives them a picture of what is available to them. 4) HUMBLE YOURSELF BEFORE CHRIST JESUS: We all need to do this, but this morning I’m speaking to those that might not know the saving power offered by Jesus by believing in his payment for your sins.
We have gone along as David invited us and seen where David has been and his instruction to us. We’ve read the truth of blessedness that comes with confessed sin. As believers this issue of confession has to take up a major residence in our lives. If you desire wisdom, if you want to be running after Christ, if you want to be united as a church body with a vision for what God wants to do at Crete Church, confessing sin and walking humbly before your God are absolutely necessary. We have a choice before us today, friends. We can either be like horses and have to be led about, or we can operate under the understanding given us by God to submit ourselves to him and confess our sin to him. Choose wisely.