The Blessings of Forgiveness
A Meditative Sermon on Psalm 32
Text: Psalm 32
The heat was overwhelming, overbearing, and overpowering. You know the feeling. It’s so hot you become completely sapped of energy. You don’t want to do anything because you are too tired and exhausted to move.
I wasn’t perspiring. I wasn’t glistening. It was so hot I was pouring sweat—buckets of sweat. It felt like it was 120 degrees with 120% humidity. It felt like I was wearing a goose feather winter parka, snowsuit, ski mask, and gloves in the middle of summer. That’s how hot I was.
I ached down to my bones. I was dehydrated. I was dizzy. I was nauseated. I felt like I was going to die.
But then I realized. I wasn’t wearing a parker. I wasn’t wearing a snowsuit, hat, or gloves. The sun wasn’t blazing. It wasn’t even summer. I realized I was wearing . . . my sin. I was covered in guilt.
I remembered my anger, how it infuriated me and made my blood boil. I remembered that I thought and said things filled with spite and rage.
I remembered my slander. I shared so many stories about that person that she will never ever have a good name again. That sweet, juicy gossip tasted delicious, and I gobbled it up.
I remembered my cursing. The things that came out of my mouth belong in the bathroom or on a pirate ship. No, they were worse and more inappropriate than that. I interjected God’s name like it was some common noun or adjective, not the name above all names. I trashed the Lord’s name, sometimes using it when I was surprised, sometimes when I was happy, sometimes when I was angry (and I said I wished God would cause an eternity of hell for my microwave, my lawnmower, my neighbor, and my favorite football team all in the same day).
I remembered my thoughts. What I saw with my eyes no person should see. What I thought with my mind was far from pure. What I craved no person ought do.
I remembered my actions. Why did I do that? How could I do that? How could I act like that? Oh, if people only knew what I’m really like. If people only knew what I’m really capable of.
I remembered my apathy. The holy Word of God sits closed, waiting to be read, waiting to feed, waiting to strengthen. But it sits. Closed. My moments for growth and learning and study are foregone for catch up time with American Idol and Law & Order (or time at the beach). My moments for prayer are foregone for catch up time on Facebook (or on my pillow).
I remembered all my sins. I remember all my rebellion against the Lord. I remembered all my defiance. And it hurt. It felt like . . . It felt like what David writes in Psalm 32:3-4, “When I kept silent, 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.”
I remembered all that I have done and I realized that I was wearing my sin like a thick parka on a blazing-hot summer day. I was covered in guilt. And it hurt. My bones wasted away. I groaned in agony. My strength was sapped. God’s hand was heavy upon me. I had disobeyed the holy Lord of lords. I had defied and ignored the God of love and many blessings. I had rebelled against him and his wrath and fury against sin were mine to receive.
What else could I do? In sorrow, in agony, in pain, in distress, in tears, I fell before the Lord. Verse 5: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” All I could but do was finally acknowledge what I have done. I laid bare before the Sovereign Lord the iniquity and guilt he already knew I had. I confessed my sins to the Lord.
Wrath was mine. Punishment was mine. Hell was mine. But you, O Lord, “You forgave the guilt of my sin.” In grace, in mercy, in kindness, in love which I am not worthy of and do not deserve, you forgave what I have done.
Oh how blessed I am! Verse 1: “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” I am blessed. My transgressions are forgiven. They are covered up. The many and awful wrongs I have done are covered with the blood of your righteous Son, O Lord. His holy blood blots out and conceals my many wrongs. His righteousness clothes and covers me with a perfection that does not belong to me.
Oh how blessed I am! Verse 2: “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” I had a large, insurmountable negative balance in my account. I owed God a debt I could never repay. But the Lord has not counted it against me. Instead he has deposited into my account a balance I could not ever afford or pay for or earn. He has credited to me the salvation of my soul and an eternity of joy and peace in heaven.
Oh how blessed I am! I confessed my myriad of sins to the Lord, and in his great mercy and grace alone did he remove and forgive my sins. Verse 6: “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 the trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Yes, let all your people confess and pray to you, Lord. For the ungodly will not survive when the waters of guilt and condemnation arise. But we, Lord, we who know your grace and forgiveness know that you are our hiding place. In you we find solace and rest. In you we find protection from the troubles of this world and the troubles of a guilty conscience. In you, O Lord, we find deliverance.
What joy I have! What blessings I have! I must share! I must tell others what my Savior has done. Yes, verse 8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” I will make it my mission, my commission from God, to go and make disciples. I will instruct and teach others the ways of the Lord. I will counsel others with the seriousness of sin and also the joy of forgiveness.
I will tell others, verse 9, “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.” David knew what this was like. For a year he was like a stubborn mule, bottling up his adultery with Bathsheba and his murderous plot for Uriah her husband. I know what this is like. I have stomped and dug in my feet and hesitated and halted in unwillingness to confess my sins. But then I confessed and repented, and found forgiveness. So I will instruct others not to be like a horse or mule, but rather to turn to you, O Lord.
Yes, the ways of the wicked are fruitless and empty. Verse 10: “Many are the woes of the wicked.” So I will teach them what you have taught me, O Lord. “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.” I trust in your forgiveness and salvation, Lord, and your unfailing love surrounds me each and every day. So I will teach others too, verse 11, “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”
Oh, what joy I have! What blessings I have! My heart bursts with joy. My heart rejoices and sings. My pulsating heart of faith beats fast with a gladness that no other can give. I have pep in my step and a smile all the while. Every moment of my life is filled peace and gladness and joy. For I know my sins. I know what I have done. I know the guilt I bore. But I have confessed my sins to the Lord. And by his mercy and grace alone he has covered them. He has not counted them against me. He has forgiven them.
The weight is lifted. The pain is gone. I have sinned. But God has forgiven. Oh how blessed I am! Praise and thanks be to God forever and ever!