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Psalm 32: When you need forgiveness

What kind of sinner are you? Do you consider yourself mildly sinful, at least not as bad as others? Or do you realize how serious each sin is and what punishment it deserves? Like the street after the parade has gone by, do you see each day littered with the debris of your sinful thoughts, words, and deeds?

That’s how David had painfully felt until the Lord brought him to repentance and the comfort of full forgiveness. We see an example of this in 2 Samuel 11 and Psalm 51. We see similar content in Psalm 32.

Admit our need

For almost a year David had refused to use that difficult word wrong. Instead he tried to hide his sin and avoid facing its consequences. When he couldn’t trick the husband of the woman whom he had impregnated in adultery, David arranged to have him killed on the battlefield. Though he then married Bathsheba and gave his name to their child, that did not square accounts with the Lord. With such “deceit,” as he himself called it in our psalm (Psalm 32:2), David avoided that word wrong and refused to confess his sin.

But David didn’t get away with his deceit. His conscience was invisible but not inactive. The more he tried his deceit, the worse it became. God’s law was exerting heavy pressure on his heart. It made him feel like an old man with brittle, breaking bones. Instead of enjoying the showers of God’s blessings, he was living in a perpetual midsummer drought of guilt (cf. v. 3,4)—until he admitted his sin to the Lord.

Did you notice his confession? It wasn’t “If I did such and such.” It wasn’t “But you know there were some unusual circumstances.” It wasn’t “What about Bathsheba? She helped me do it.” It was instead “I acknowledged my sin to you.” It was “I did not cover up my iniquity.” It was “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD” (v. 5). It was the heartfelt admission, “I was WRONG”—in capital letters. And his admission was to the right person: the Lord against whom he had sinned and who alone could do something about it.

What kind of sinner are you? The Lenten season is a good time to put aside the 12-inch ruler we so often use to measure our sin and instead lay God’s 20-foot tape measure on it. It’s a good time to roll the wheelbarrow overflowing with our sins to the foot of his cross and admit our need for his ever-ready forgiveness.

Rejoice in his forgiveness

Did you notice how David described God’s forgiveness in Psalm 32:1,2? He used three terms to emphasize it.

  • “Transgressions are forgiven,” he wrote, a word meaning to carry away. With eyes of faith, he looked ahead and saw his whole stinking mess of sin carried away by the Savior on Calvary’s cross.
  • “Sins are covered,” he added. They’re not just hidden from God’s sight but totally erased by the Savior’s precious blood.
  • “Whose sin the LORD does not count against them,” he added. With eyes of faith, David saw that a just God did not write “canceled” over sin’s unpaid debt but sent his Son in payment. With his holy life and innocent suffering and death, Jesus covered every sin and canceled all its guilt.

What kind of sinner are you? The Lenten season is a good time to roll home the wheelbarrow of daily life, emptied of its load of sin, with a song in our heart and praise on our lips. It’s a good time to join David, the redeemed sinner, in rejoicing, “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1).

Other psalms for when you feel the need for forgiveness: Psalm 38, Psalm 51, and Psalm 143.

This is the second article in a six-part series about the psalms’ guidance for our daily lives. Read the psalms with FIC in a new six-month Bible reading series.

Author: Richard Lauersdorf
Volume 110, Number 02
Issue: February 2023

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This entry is part 5 of 62 in the series bible-study

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