Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
October 18, 2015
Confession can stop the groaning
Many Old Testament Psalms are known and loved by Christians and Jews alike. Psalm 23, which beautifully portrays the Lord as our Shepherd, is probably the most well-known passage in the entire Bible.
Psalm 32 is one of my favorites. It blessed me to discover that this was Saint Augustine’s favorite Psalm. He even had the Psalm inscribed on the wall beside his bed while he was dying. That alone should prompt interest in both the Psalm and this renowned early church father who was declared a saint of the church.
The 32nd Psalm is about sin and forgiveness. King David, the author, begins with the word “blessed,” which brings to mind the Beatitudes of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. We could, then, call the first two verses beatitudes of David. They are indeed two of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. Joy leaps in my heart each time of read these words:
“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.”
Blessed indeed is the person who embraces the mercy of almighty God! It is easy to understand why the dying Augustine would want to remind himself daily that his sins were forgiven. Few things are more important when one is facing death and the coming judgment.
Since Jesus was, in the words of Saint Paul, the “visible expression of the invisible God,” it is appropriate for Christians to add the word “Jesus” to the word “Lord” in the Old Testament. It gives new meaning, for example, to say in Psalm 23, “The Lord Jesus is my shepherd.” The same value is added by amending Psalm 32 to read, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord Jesus does not count against him….”
These assertions by David reveal the good news of the Old Testament. Here is welcome news to anyone struggling with guilt – God is willing to forgive the sins of those who confess their transgressions to Him.
David’s reluctance to confess his sins caused him to feel that he was “groaning all day long.” We all know people who are constantly groaning. The problem, then, could be unconfessed sin. David insists that relief from such groaning and guilt is available if we are willing to confess our transgressions to the Lord.
Interestingly verse seven of Psalm 32 is the source of the title of Corrie ten Boom’s life story, The Hiding Place. The verse reads, “You are my hiding place: you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”
In verse nine David injects a little humor into the serious subject of sin and forgiveness. He invites us not to be as stubborn as a mule with this counsel: “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.” That brings a smile to the face of anyone familiar with mules.
Verse ten reminds of us the steadfast love of God: “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.” Faith in the unwavering love of God can help us make it through the dark nights of the soul.
David completes this brief Psalm by inviting us to “rejoice in the Lord and be glad.” We can indeed rejoice when we have found peace with God through the confession of our sins. Why allow unconfessed sin to rob us of the sweet peace of the Lord’s forgiveness?
David made the right decision. He gave up groaning, confessed his sin and the Lord filled his heart with the joy that erupts in singing. Groaning was overcome by joy. It happened to David. It happened to me. It can happen to you. And it will happen to anyone who trusts in the Lord’s unfailing love. Glory! + + +