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7-19-2020 Be Happy! Psalm 32

Psalms Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:25
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Introduction:
There is a lot going on right now that can weigh us down. Between the rioting, the protesting, the debate on mandating facial masks, Witmer’s executive powers, and, by the way, the upcoming elections—we all have burdens to carry. Some burdens are so heavy that they seem to consume all our strength.
A study conducted by clinical neuroscientist Roland Zahn of the University of Manchester has identified how the brain links knowledge about social behavior with moral sentiment. Of particular interest to Zahn was the connection between guilt and depression. He explains, “The most distinctive feature of depressive disorders is an exaggerated negative attitude to oneself, which is typically accompanied by feelings of guilt.”
In Psalm 32, David expresses the emotional pain associated with guilt. For those who have struggled with depression, David’s description will sound familiar. But there is good news. God has dealt with our deep need of forgiveness through the atoning death of Jesus on the cross which results in everlasting joy!
Transition:
No burden is heavier than the burden of guilt, and perhaps no one has ever carried a heavier burden of guilt than King David. We know his story all too well. He—the man after God’s own heart, the man who had been enormously blessed, the man who had the keen spiritual insights we find in the psalms—committed unspeakably vile and callous acts. He lusted after his neighbour’s wife, committed adultery with her, and had her husband killed to cover it all up (2 Sam. 11:1–27). With that in mind, let’s go ahead and continue our expository journey through The book of Psalms-- and more specifically this morning Psalm 32
Scripture Reading: Psalm 32
Psalm 32 LEB
Of David. A maskil. 1 Happy is he whose transgression is taken away, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy is a person to whom Yahweh does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit there is not deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones were worn out due to my groaning all the day. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me. My vigor was changed into the dry heat of summer. Selah 5 I made known my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not cover. I said, “I will confess concerning my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you took away the guilt of my sin. Selah 6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you at the time for finding you. Surely at the flood of many waters they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; from trouble you preserve me. With cries of deliverance you surround me. Selah 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go. I will advise you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be like a horse or like a mule, without understanding; that needs his tackle—bridle and rein—for restraint or he would not come near you. 10 Many are the pains of the wicked, but for the one who trusts Yahweh loyal love surrounds him. 11 Be glad in Yahweh and rejoice, you righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright of heart.
This is a Psalm of Joy, forgiveness, and happiness! It contains three verbs and three nouns that describe the divine transaction of forgiveness. The first verb, “taken away” (in v:1) is forgiveness, is literally “to be lifted up, carried away”; it is used of both human and divine forgiveness. It suggests a metaphorical “carrying away” of one’s sins. The second verb, “to cover” (the last word in v:1), means “to conceal” from sight, in the sense that God does not see one’s sin. The third verb, “to count, impute” (v:2), is the same verb as used of Abraham’s faith in Genesis 15:6:
Genesis 15:6 LEB
6 And he believed in Yahweh, and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.
“he reckoned/credited it to him”
Here in the psalm, of course, we have the negative sense, “whose sin the LORD does not count against them.” That is, God does not record it against the sinner.
Transition:
But here in our Psalm this morning, we have a record of what brings King David happiness:

I. The Joy of Confessed Sin (vv.1-2)

Forgiveness was not a light thing to David. He regards himself as being ‘blessed’ in receiving it. By using the word ‘blessed’, he was essentially saying, ‘How very happy!’ David was happy to be forgiven. This tells us the first thing about happiness!
Psalm 32:1 LEB
Happy is he whose transgression is taken away, whose sin is covered.
Happy is he/Blessed is the one
The word “ Happy/blessed” (’ashre) begins the whole Psalter (Ps. 1:1). This is the person who is favored by God’s forgiveness, which is preceded by repentance (32:5).
If we do not share his appreciation for forgiveness, it is most certainly because we do not share his understanding of sin. Wrongdoing presupposes an objective standard of right and wrong. The Bible insists that God’s law is that standard.
Psalm 32:2 LEB
Happy is a person to whom Yahweh does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit there is not deceit.
Yahweh does not impute/count
This is such a fantastic truth that Paul plucked it out of the pages of the Old Testament and incorporated it into his glorious epistle to the Romans:
Romans 4:7 LEB
“Blessed are they whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins are covered over.
This is a direct quote:
Romans 4:8 LEB
Blessed is the person against whom the Lord will never count sin.”
Happy indeed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Psa 32:1
David alludes to God’s standard of behaviour by the words he uses for his sin. He calls it ‘transgression’, which indicates the stepping over a known boundary. He calls it ‘sin’, which refers to missing a mark or a target. He calls it ‘iniquity’, which carries the idea of twisting something.
Psa 32:2
There is a difference between iniquity, transgression, and sin. The Greek word for sin means missing the mark. You can be doing your best, but if you miss the bull’s-eye, it’s not good enough. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Jesus said, “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Matthew 5:48 LEB
Therefore you be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We may try, but we’ve all sinned. Transgression is different. It’s not just missing the mark, but willfully stepping over the line. Transgression is a willful, knowledgeable act of rebellion. David knew he was both a sinner and a transgressor—just like you and me.

I. The Joy of Confessed Sin (vv.1-2)

In each case, the thought is the same, namely, failing to live up to a standard. There is a boundary, there is a target, there is something that is straight and true, but sin steps over the boundary, misses the target, and twists the straight.
But the grace of forgiveness is ever sufficient for the sin. David had found it to be so. His sin had been forgiven and covered (v. 1). And iniquity was no longer imputed to him (v. 2). God had lifted the burden and carried it away. God had covered it from view. God had blotted out the handwriting of its indictment.
Transition:
The crisis that led to this “blessed” life is described in 32:3–4.

II. The Crisis Caused by sin (vv.3-5)

David describes how it felt to be relentlessly weighed down by guilt:
Psalm 32:3 LEB
When I kept silent, my bones were worn out due to my groaning all the day.
my bones were worn out due to my groaning all the day
King David describes similar physical debilities in his other Psalms.
The sense of being prematurely old, constant groaning, the feeling of heaviness, the sense of being spiritually parched and destitute—all are the handiwork of guilt.
Psalm 32 3
When I kept silent
How long do you keep silent? How long have you been depressed? For a little over nine months following David’s sin with Bathsheba, he wasn’t ready to deal with the Lord on the matter. It wasn’t until Nathan the prophet came and declared to David right before the child would be born that there was a poor man in his kingdom who had only one sheep that was dearly loved by his family. A rich man who had guests went to the poor man’s house—and, instead of killing his own sheep, took the poor man’s single little lamb. David was outraged. “That man will die,” he said.
Nathan replied: [(2 Samuel 12:7)]:
2 Samuel 12:7 LEB
Then Nathan said to him, “You are the man! Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: ‘I anointed you as king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
Isn’t that the way sin is? We always react most violently to the sins with which we ourselves are guilty of.
On the other hand, it’s amazing how little we judge and how free we are of condemning others when we are right with the Lord. Look at Jesus. With stones in hand, they were ready to do her in. But the only One who had the right to cast a stone looked at her and said, “I don’t accuse you. Go and sin no more” (see John 8:11). The more you’re like Jesus, the less likely you are to throw stones.
Psalm 32:4 LEB
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me. My vigor was changed into the dry heat of summer. Selah
King David considers his deteriorating condition a consequence of God’s actions. The suppliant has experienced the broiling heat of Israel’s summers, which saps him of his strength, and that becomes an appropriate metaphor for the waning of his physical strength.
Un-confessed sin has physical consequences, and he describes it as “my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (32:4). Israel experiences periodic heat waves with temperatures climbing close to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the south. An acacia tree provides the only shade to get relief from the sun.
We know about this. We have all wrestled with the monster of guilt. Perhaps we cheated someone in order to get ahead, or we failed to help someone who desperately needed it. We may have failed to give the proper time to our children, or when we did give them time, we were grouchy and irritable. Perhaps we have taken God’s day as our own to do with as we please or frequently taken His name in vain. It could be that we have nurtured unclean thoughts.
Or perhaps it is a combination of several things.
Do you ever feel dry? Do you ever wonder what happened to the flow of the Holy Spirit in your life? Could it be that you are harboring a sin that is causing you to feel like “the drought of summer”? Not all dryness is the result of sin, but much is.
So How did David get from the burden of guilt to the happiness of forgiveness? He leaves no doubt about the answer, as he says to the Lord:
Psalm 32:5 LEB
I made known my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not cover. I said, “I will confess concerning my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you took away the guilt of my sin. Selah
I made known/acknowledged my sin
The verb “acknowledged” (“to admit, reveal”) means disclosing something that was hidden or unknown. This acknowledgment was a turning point in the suppliant’s experience.
Proverbs 28:13 LEB
He who conceals his transgression will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes will obtain mercy.
Healing the hurt and restoring happiness begins with hard confession (“I will confess”).
Ps 32:5
Notice that King David frames his confession in the future tense, but God’s forgiveness in the past tense. In other words, before he even confessed, God forgave. That’s how ready God is to forgive the believer. Really, the only time God is pictured as being in a hurry in the entire Bible is in Luke 15, when the father ran to welcome home the prodigal son.
When King David finally came to the point of confession, he stopped fighting against God. He, as it were, walked over to God’s side of the fence and stood with God and joined him in condemning his, David’s, sin.
The relief that came to David through confession is available to everybody— especially all of God’s people. The apostle John declares: [(1 John 1:9)]:
1 John 1:9 LEB
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, so that he will forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
He moved from the burden to the blessing through confession. His truth is very clear when we reduce David’s words to these phrases: ‘I made known/acknowledged … You took away/forgave.’
Psalm 32:5 LEB
I made known my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not cover. I said, “I will confess concerning my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you took away the guilt of my sin. Selah
You took away/forgave the guilt of my sin.
The promise of YHWH to forgive his repenting people must be believed. Right here is where many of God’s people go astray. Even though they have God’s promise to forgive them, they cannot forgive themselves. So they keep dredging up their sin and feeling guilty about it. And Satan gets the victory because, while they are feeling guilty over their sin, they are virtually useless to the cause of Christ.
What shall we say to such people? God has told us that when we repent of our sins, he casts them as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12), never to be remembered again (Jer. 31:34).
Psalm 103:12 LEB
As far as east is from west, so he has removed far from us the guilt of our transgressions.
Our word, then, to our troubled brother or sister in the faith who won’t let go of guilt is this: dear brother, dear sister, believe God. Don’t try to resurrect what He has buried. If God says you are forgiven, you are forgiven. Rejoice in it —BE HAPPY!

II. The Crisis Caused by sin (vv.3-5)

Transition:
Now we’ve covered The Joy of Confessed Sin, & The Crisis Caused by sin, the next logical flow:

III. The Joy of Salvation Accomplished (vv.6-9)

The fact that David had experienced God’s gracious forgiveness for such heinous and high-handed sins enabled him to commend confession to others. All who come truly confessing will find mercy from God. Confessing time is mercy time!
Psalm 32:6 LEB
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you at the time for finding you. Surely at the flood of many waters they will not reach him.
Therefore
There’s the expression “when we find a ‘therefore’ we look for what it is there for” -- it’s referring to what he said in the last part of v:5. After Uriah was dead and Bathsheba was ‘lawfully’ his wife, David thought he had successfully hidden his treacherous acts. Instead, he released into his life the poison of guilt that was killing him every waking moment.
How precious is God’s mercy!
Ps 32 6
the flood of many waters
Those who have received it never have to worry about the judgement of God. When that judgement, like ‘the flood of many waters’, sweeps over the wicked, it will not come near those who have been visited with mercy.
God’s judgment will not flow over you or drown you. If you confess your sin, He is faithful and just to forgive you.
Psalm 32:7 LEB
You are my hiding place; from trouble you preserve me. With cries of deliverance you surround me. Selah
my hiding place
Since “hiding place” is a military term, the “cries/songs of deliverance” are likely songs of victory sung by the troops or the waiting people when the army returns from victorious battle.
Those who hide in their sins (v. 5) will never be hidden in God’s mercy
Psalm 32:8 LEB
I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go. I will advise you with my eye upon you.
I will instruct you… teach you… I will advise/counsel you.”
The “I” is most likely the Lord himself. All these activities—“instruct,” “teach,” “advise/counsel,” and the idea of watching over—describe God’s relationship to his people and so confirm the view that the “I” is God.
So King David urges his readers not to be ungovernable like a wild horse or stubborn as a mule, but rather to avail themselves of the rich mercy of God.
Psalm 32:9 LEB
Do not be like a horse or like a mule, without understanding; that needs his tackle—bridle and rein—for restraint or he would not come near you.
"no understanding
“Understanding” designates the difference between humans and animals. “Why is God so brutal?” people sometimes ask—never realizing that it’s because they’re acting like mules.
Illustration:
Albert Barnes summarizes this portion this way: ‘The experience of the psalmist, therefore, as recorded in this psalm, should be full of encouragement to all who are burdened with a sense of sin. Warned by his experience, they should not attempt to conceal their transgressions in their own bosom, but they should go at once, as he was constrained at last to go, and make full and free confession to God. So doing, they will find that God is not slow to pardon them, and to fill their hearts with peace, and their lips with praise.’1
Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms, Baker Books, vol. i

So What? (vv.10-11)

So verses 10 & 11 are our “So What” this morning
It has often been said that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We have in David a very clear history on the matters of sin and forgiveness. If we ignore it, we doom ourselves to walk the same miserable path he walked. The course of wisdom is to learn from him, to learn what creates guilt and avoid it, to learn to confess our sin, and to learn to rejoice in God’s gracious forgiveness.
Psalm 32:10 LEB
Many are the pains of the wicked, but for the one who trusts Yahweh loyal love surrounds him.
but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds
In v:7 the verb “surround” describes the “songs of deliverance” that celebrate the psalmist’s victory over the crisis he encountered, while here the same verb describes the Lord’s covenantal “unfailing love” (hesed) that surrounds those who trust in the victor, “the one who trusts in him.” In the Hebrew text, “the one who trusts in the LORD” is a casus pendens (a pending case), “But as for the one who trusts in the LORD,” making the contrast stronger by putting the person of contrast out front in the clause.
This psalm is about forgiveness, but that implies the underlying problem of sin. Only one who is forgiven, like King David here, can make such a boast about that new condition with the term of life’s renewed perspective, “blessed”
Psalm 32:11 LEB
Be glad in Yahweh and rejoice, you righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright of heart.
shout/sing
Three verbs of joy, “rejoice,” “be glad,” and “sing,” change the person to the plural. Moses uses the same concluding verb, “sing,” to call Israel to break into singing. Realizing the gravity of his sin, no wonder David declares, “Happy is the man whose sins are forgiven, whose transgressions are not held against him.” That’s us!
In Conclusion:
The forgiveness of sin is an accomplished fact: “You forgave (past completed tense) the guilt of my sin” (v:5b). But as is often the case with those who are forgiven, the psalmist feels the urgency to rehearse the crisis. His prayer is in verses 4–7, as he implores the Lord, based on his own experience of God’s forgiveness. The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives a definition of sin: “Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.”10 That is, sin is both omission and commission. King David says that his sin is an offense against God, and though he does not, the Lord ought to count it against him.
David shares this to his fellow worshipers—he is sharing the good news. This, of course, is a textual hint that we may urge one another to share the reality of sins forgiven.
Another powerful truth of Psalm 32 is, in part, that unconfessed sin has serious consequences. Perhaps only one who has experienced those burning, hot summers in the land of Israel will comprehend the full measure of his metaphor in verse 4.
We have to wonder if our society is not getting morally worse because we refuse to acknowledge our sin. But the new life that broke into David’s world is contained in the word “blessed.”
Last, we have the sober warning of verse 6: “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found.” The Scriptures teach that God is available to those who call on him; yet on occasion—here in verse 6 and in Isaiah 55:6
Isaiah 55:6 LEB
Seek Yahweh while he lets himself be found; call him while he is near.
there is some restriction on God’s availability. Sometimes it is just our imagination, or our state of mind, that prohibits us from finding God, but Amos speaks of a time when Israel will “stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it” (Amos 8:12). On the other hand, Isaiah recognizes that he prophesies at a time when the Lord “may be found” (Isa. 55:6). The phrase “while you may be found” should not be taken lightly. Whether it is a matter of God’s availability or our perceptiveness, the biblical faith warns us that ignoring God’s grace is a serious matter. Time may be running out—the end is near.
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