Psalm 32 will forever be recorded in Heaven as a song about the day David's soul was set free from the prison house of guilt and anguish over his un-confessed and un-forsaken sin.
As we open to this Psalm, imagine with me the events surrounding the day that David was finally set free from his emotional bondage. Here are his words that overflowed from the depths of his soul:
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
The Day David Was Set Free
One day the generals of King David's cabinet made their way to the palace, winding their way up those cobbled streets to the palace, just as they did each morning.
Arriving at the huge stone citadel they expected to be dismissed again by the frustrated and depressed King of Israel. His chambers were usually shuttered and silent, unlike the old days when he was up at the dawn; but before they could get any further-the sound of the sweet songs of David stunned them. One by one with incredulous faces they looked at each other and then up.
There he was.
The sweet psalmist of Israel, perched on the steps of his throne, harp in hand, his face tilted reverently upward, the tears streaming down his face.
David's Song Had Returned
He was back. The real David was back, and so was his song.
Like a spring gushing up in a parched desert, the generals dropped to the floor to drink from the river of worship again flowing from David's heart.
Like the days of old their hearts began to burn again with adoring love to God.
Work was set aside, worship was their passion. Soon workers, servants, aides, guests, nobles, all took their places in the court of God's anointed king.
David got his song back.
God has told us that when He lives within us by His Spirit, some outward evidences will begin to be seen. Paul describes one of those evidences twice in his epistles to the church. One of those evidences of God within is mentioned in both Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3. Remember what Paul said? Please open there to:
Ephesians 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, NKJV
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. NKJV
Wonderful as the Spirit flowing through us may be, when grieved or quenched, the spring of our soul and the song that results, dries up.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. NKJV
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit. NKJV
That is what we saw happened when David was hiding his sin. The consequence David experienced because of the Lord's displeasure at his sin in II Samuel 11:27, was that he lost his song. God was grieved with David's sin. The Spirit of God was quenched, snuffed out and doused with the deadening effects of David's sin.
But David's heart, touched by God's grace, responds with confession and repentance.
And what a song it must have been. It was the song of a soul set free. This Psalm may capture that initial gratitude of liberation David must have felt. Psalm 32 is his testimony at the relief of forgiveness. But before David could get there:
Confrontation was Needed
But to really experience the wonder of David's deliverance from the vice grip of sin open with me to that climactic moment when God gave back to David His joy, His peace and His new song! Turn again to II Samuel 11:27.
Swollen with the putrid puss of sin, David's wounded soul throbbed with the long incubated infection of self-righteousness.
One day when that crushing weight of sin brought David to near collapse, God sent His word to confront David.
In walked the prophet Nathan who said what God told him to say.
Read with me the report in 2 Samuel 12:7-14.
2 Samuel 12:7-14 (NKJV) Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11 Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.'" 13 So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die."
What a horrible thing sin is.
It deceives with all those glittering promises.
It destroys with deadly accuracy.
When you have been defeated David is inspired of God to tell us steps we can take to come back to God.
Let's look at what happens when David confessed and forsook his sins the way God wanted him to. This is what will happen in our lives when we look at sin the way God wants us to look at sin. That record is inPsalm 32 our focus for this message.
David has just repented of the horrible pit of sin he had been covering up for weeks and months. That is where we find him in Psalm 32. He writes the song about what it means to return to God and receive and experience and to possess His forgiveness- "The Song of a soul set free"
Before we examine the details of Psalm 32, we are looking at the song that marked the return of the rivers of living water to the soul David. The man after God's own heart has returned. The joy is back, the peace is back, the fellowship is renewed and the songs begin to flow again. But we must never forget-the consequences continued.
Look at the divisions of this Psalm; if you haven't marked them down let me remind you of them again. First of all-
- First, David sings with DELIGHT when his SINS WERE Forgiven.
v.1-2 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
- David sings of his DESPAIR when he remembers the pain when his SINS WERE CONCEALED.
v. 3-4 When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the daylong. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
You see David was on the same road as Saul when he covered his sin. He was sliding damnably downward. But God intercepted him, just as God intercepted Saul, God pointed the finger of His Word at his sin and Saul concealed it and excused it and David exposes it and confessed it. That's the critical difference between these two men.
- David sings of DELIVERANCE. He delighted that his sins were cleansed. He despaired when they were concealed. But he was delivered when his SINS WERE CONFESSED.
v.5-7 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6 For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You In a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him. 7 You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
That's why 1 John says a characteristic of a truly born again person is that they are confessing their sins. They are constantly agreeing with God, constantly exposing themselves to God's holy sight, and saying--God before you I am naked and open. You can see me and I confess my sinfulness.
When we do that, when we don't cover it, we can prosper. But when we cover our sins-you know God sees them when we try and hide them-He says you will never prosper.
- David sings about his LONGING that his SINFUL WAYS BE CRUSHED and that his sinful desires be abated.
v.8-11 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Let's go deeper into each of these four divisions of Psalm 32. Maybe it will encourage you to spend a lot of time in it.
THE DELIGHT OF SINS FORGIVEN
Psalm 32:1-2 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. NKJV
In verses 1-2 David uses three Hebrew words for Forgiveness in Psalm 32:
First, Forgiveness means having our SINS PULLED OFF.
v. 1a "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven"
"Forgiven" [Hebrew nawsaw] means literally to have our sin lifted off by our Redeemer. As Pilgrim it rolls off and into Christ's tomb. We are being crushed by any sins we keep around. They suffocate, smother and squash the very life of our soul. But there is a Redeemer who can set us free. And to his only hope, David fled.
A successful businessman from Chicago was saved from his heavy load of sin and later moved to serve the Lord the rest of his days in Jerusalem. He lived in a house on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, next to the Damascus Gate, ministering to Moslem orphans.
Here was his confession that most of us have heard. Listen especially to the third stanza.
It is Well with My Soul (Horatio G. Spafford, 1873)
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like the sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
‘It is well with my soul.'
Tho' Satan should buffet, tho' trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin-oh, the bliss of this glorious tho't!-
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,
‘Even so,' it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul.
Then David goes on to say a second reality is now his-all of his just punishment has been graciously removed from him and he no longer faces God's wrath.
Second, Forgiveness means we are SHEILDED FROM WRATH:
v. 1b "...whose sin is covered".
Look at that little word "covered" [Hebrew kawsaw]. This word shouts the strong imagery in the events of the day of atonement.
On that day the High Priest took the blood of an animal and sprinkled it onto the mercy seat.
Above the mercy seat was the presence of God portrayed by the outstretched arms of the cherubim.
Beneath the lid of the ark were the tablets portraying God's divine law.
In essence, the blood stood between a holy God and the sinners who broke His law, averting His wrath.
David cried for joy when the wrath of God was turned away from him.
So our sins are covered away by the blood of Jesus shed for us! This truth was captured beautifully by Wesley's hymn. Turn there with me to share in the wonder of sins forgiven.
Arise, My Soul, Arise (Charles Wesley, 1742) #199
Arise, my soul, arise, shake off your guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice, in my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.
He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead;
His blood atoned for every race,
His blood atoned for every race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
Five bleeding wounds He bears;
received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers;
they strongly plead for me:
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry,
"Nor let that ransomed sinner die!"
The Father hears Him pray,
His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away the presence of His Son;
The Spirit answers to the blood,
The Spirit answers to the blood
And tells me I am born of God.
My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And "Father, Abba, Father," cry.
Next, in verse two David explains that:
Thirdly, Forgiveness means ALL My DEBTS CLEARED OUT:
v. 2a Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity;
"Not Counted" speaks of a list of debts no longer held against us. David had become utterly bankrupted by his sin. The bills were piling up, mounting like a flood and drowning him. Desire, deceit, cruel deception, cunning craftiness and shameless murder all charged heavy debts to his soul. And now in sheer delight all the mountain of impossible debt is cleared from the ledger. "My sins are gone, and shall not be remembered, God in mercy tenderly forgives."
The importance of forgiveness is a constant theme of Scripture. There are no less than seventy-five different word pictures about forgiveness in the world of the Bible. They help us grasp the importance, the nature and the effects of forgiveness look at these word pictures.
- To forgive is to turn the key, open the cell door and let the prisoner walk free.
- To forgive is to write in large letters across a debt, "nothing owed"
- To forgive is to pound the gavel in a courtroom and declare, "not guilty!"
- To forgive is to shoot an arrow so high and so far that it can never be found again.
- To forgive is to bundle up all the garbage and trash and dispose of it, leaving the house clean and fresh.
- To forgive is to loose the moorings of a ship and release it to the open sea.
- To forgive is to grant a full pardon to a condemned criminal.
- To forgive is to relax a stranglehold on a wrestling opponent.
- To forgive is to sandblast a wall of graffiti, leaving it looking like new.
- To forgive is to smash a clay pot into a thousand pieces so it can never be pieced together again.
David says how inexpressible is the blessing of being forgiven. God is a forgiving God and we praise and thank Him for what He has done through Christ's sacrifice.
Just an hour north of here is a rescue mission in downtown Grand Rapids named Mel Trotter Mission. The man who founded that mission in 1900 was a portrait of the grace of God that forgives and makes new.
1870 - 1940
"I was there when it happened, January 19, 1897, 10 minutes past 9, Central time, Pacific Garden Mission, Chicago, Illinois, USA."-Mel Trotter's response when asked how he knew he was saved."
Mel Trotter's father was a drunkard who owned a saloon. His son followed in his footsteps, becoming an alcoholic before he was twenty. His mother was a godly woman, but Mel followed his father's example.
Trotter married, and he and his wife had a baby, but his appetite for drink continued. He would go weeks at a time without a drink, but then he would go on drunken binges again. Once he "drank up" the family horse and buggy, leaving them without any means of transportation. He returned home from a ten-day drinking spree to find his only child dead in his wife's arms. Bitter and broken, he left home and went to Chicago.
During the brutal winter he was reduced to selling his own shoes to finance his drinking. Finally even the saloons kicked him out. On his way to Lake Michigan, intending to drown himself, he passed by the Pacific Garden Rescue Mission. He was pulled inside and sat slumped through the testimony of Harry Monroe, a converted alcoholic, then superintendent of the mission. At the invitation, Trotter went forward and accepted Christ as his Savior.
Mel and his wife moved to Chicago, and he spent nearly every night working at the mission. With Monroe he traveled to area churches seeking support.
In 1900 a new rescue mission was established in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Trotter was asked to come and lead the new work. The Lord prospered the work there, and it grew and expanded until facilities were purchased which could handle 750 men.
One of Trotter's greatest victories was when the saloon next door to the mission was forced to close for lack of business. Trotter carried a burden for rescue missions in other cities as well. He helped found more than 65 other rescue missions during his life. It was not unusual for Trotter to be asked to fill in for R. A. Torrey or Billy Sunday in one of their great revival campaigns. The power of his personal testimony gave great weight to his preaching.
Mel was not spared from the affects of alcohol on his body from those years of life in the pits of sin. Ill health marked the last few years of his life. He suffered from cancer which required repeated surgeries.
He last preached at his mission in Grand Rapids in January 1940 for the 40th anniversary celebration of that great work. His favorite verse was II Corinthians 5:17. God truly made him a new creature.
Another great expression of what the Lord does when He removed our sins was written during the Civil War years here in America by Charitie Bancroft. This great hymn has been set to new music and has seen a revival in recent days. The message is so powerful to all of us who like David have had our sins "pulled off" by Christ's work on the cross for us.
Before the throne of God above (Words: Charitie Bancroft, 1863)
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!
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