Saturday, March 26
Reader: “What joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,”
Response: “whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”
Scripture: Psalm 32
Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!
Have you ever put off confessing to someone you wronged? You blew your top at a person you love, but sort of avoided confessing and asking their forgiveness and let it ride hoping things would just calm down and go away? My guess is that we have all done that. So how did that work out for you? Never mind answering, I know.
David’s psalm today is filled with wisdom for such a situation. There is downright joy in being forgiven and having a weight lifted off your chest. I remember quite well when one of our boys was about four or five years old and had done something that required discipling. He was crabby and very unhappy. With the punishment and confession came forgiveness and restoration. I will never forget his words at the conclusion, “Daddy, I’m happy now!” What had been a somber heavy-hearted little boy turned downright joyful in his confession and experience of being forgiven. Our family rule was we never bring the instance up again. The phrase “You did it again!” was off limits.
The second sentence of this psalm concerning guilt has intrigued me. I find it relatively easy for me to clear the record of my sin, but the sense of guilt remains! My standards are a little more vague than God’s. It appears I have to be brutally honest in the confession business! But in spite of my best attempts, there is only one who can clear my record of sin. When I make no excuses or “clarifying points” with God and am completely transparent (it’s harder than you think) with the Lord and call it sin and not a mistake or any of the other “explanations” I give, I find he clears my guilty conscience. Refusing to admit and confess my sin eats away at me. I know from first-hand experience. I’m grateful for the indwelling Holy Spirit because he is relentless in conviction. I don’t ever want to lose that relationship, even when it hurts. The Lord is always our safest place. He looks after us and cares for us.
David writes this beautiful sentence about what happens when “I finally confess.” Did you notice that God doesn’t make us do penance for a while after we’ve been forgiven? There is nothing you have to do except confess. Penance and consequences for sin are two different things. People are not always as gracious in dealing with forgiveness. Granting forgiveness to others is a godly quality . . . “forgive us our debts and we forgive our debtors.”
In the concluding portion of this psalm we have a new speaker, the Lord. He is our hiding place. He is the one who guides and protects and forgives. Why would we ever be in rebellion against him? Do you see? A transparent pure heart toward the Lord is central to joy in your life. If you want to pray for something for yourself, pray for honesty and purity in your conversations with the Lord. Carrying guilt eats you up, depresses you, robs you of joy, and clouds your relationship with the Lord. That’s what David said and what I’ve experienced. Not a place you want to live.
Music: “Psalm 32” ForeverBeSure (New ensemble)
Prayer: O Thou great Chief, light a candle in my heart, that I may see what is therein, and sweep the rubbish from thy dwelling place. ―An African schoolgirl’s prayer from The Oxford Book of Prayer, p.108