The Battle You Want to Lose! – (Warning!!! deep digging- extra long)

Have you ever noticed how a child acts in the presence of his parents when he has done something wrong, even if the parent is unaware of his wrongdoing?  Of course you have, and for good reason, because the same applies to you, and to me and to all of us.   Remember how Adam and Eve acted in the Garden after they had sinned, and when God called out to them as He was accustomed to doing?  They went and hid themselves.  Why? Because they were naked… But were they not naked on all other occasions? Technically yes, but functionally, No, they were not.  The entire concept of nakedness only arose after they had sinned and had been separated from God.   The Bible has a word for this phenomenon, and it is called “conscience”. Here in Psalm 32:1-11, David provides us with deep insight into how it works.  Let us take a look.

In Psalm 32:1-2, David uses the word “blessed” twice, but the qualifiers are four in number.

First, your transgressions must be forgiven. This is simple enough. For our transgressions and sins to be forgiven, provision must first be made for their forgiveness, and secondly, a request must be made for forgiveness (1 John 1:9)

The second qualifier is that your sins must be covered.  This also is a function of God’s grace and redemptive work at Calvary. But note that this “covering” is different from a “cover-up” which David will address in verse 5.  This covering is an act by God, and interestingly enough, the picture is of God covering your sins from His eyes. Without stepping on a Theological landmine, perhaps you may wish to consider the theoretical scenario in which Jesus covers your sin with His blood, so that when His Father looks, He cannot see your sins.  What instead He sees is Jesus and His blood. In fact, despite my reluctance to be dogmatic, this is the exact picture of our righteous standing in Jesus.  It is the righteousness of Jesus that has been credited to us (Romans 3:22 & Philippians 3:9)

The third qualifier in Psalm 32:2 is also a function of God, but not God alone. The concept of “count against them” is the exact polar opposite of “remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Counting is a mathematical concept.  When we are counting and we get a positive number like +10, and we already have a base number of 100, then counting + 10 to 100 (same as +100) will result in +110. However counting -10 to +100 will result in +90. In Psalm 32:2 the “counting” is “against” which would be a minus function in math. The teaching is that there is a category of persons whose sin God will not count against them. However, please note that there is also a positive “counting”. Romans 4:3 speaks of Abraham’s faith being “counted” to him for righteousness. Here the Greek word is “logizomai”, a close relative of our English word “logic”. This Greek word means to reckon, count, compute, calculate or count over. Clearly, whether our sins are counted against us, which is the starting position of being born in sin, or whether they are not counted against us, which is the end position of righteousness, is a function of God’s forgiveness, and our confession (1 John 1:9).

The fourth qualifier in Psalm 32:2 is a function of our activity.  Here, deceit speaks first of intention to deceive, or for that matter to commit any other sin. But based on the context of the chapter, it also refers to a memory or awareness of an existing or previous unconfessed intent to, or executed act of deceit. It is to the latter that David now addresses in Psalm 32:3. But before we proceed in today’s extended commentary, note that verses 1 & 2 describe the man who is blessed. Psalm 32:3-4 describe David as a man who was wretched and tormented. Psalm 32:5 tells us how he was transformed from “wretched” to “blessed”.

Psalm 32:3-4 gives us an insight into the working of the conscience and the role that God is willing to play in our conscience.  I say “willing”, because we can block Him out and calcify our consciences or add callouses to them (1 Timothy 4:1-2). The etymology of the word “conscience” indicates that the word refers to “knowledge within oneself” – {con =with or within + science = knowledge}. It is God who places our conscience in us (Romans 2:14-15).

Psalm 32:3 David testifies that his outward silence was met with strong opposition from the loud shouting of his inner knowledge. The result was psychological and physiological deterioration, trauma and torture.   He does not leave us to imagine the mechanics of the process. Psalm 32:4 gives the answer. It was because God’s hand was heavy on him day and night. It is a good thing to be saved by the Lord’s right hand. It is a fearful thing to have that hand against you. The result of his inner turmoil is that David’s strength was sapped.

Deliverance from the debilitating effect of conviction by a healthy conscience comes in two ways. The wrong and fatal relief comes by quieting or even killing our conscience over a long period of time by continually refusing to positively respond to it.  This is the saddest position in which a human being can find themselves, and one from which I fear, there might be no recovery. But the second and clearly preferred course of deliverance is to yield to the voice of God and obey.  This is the course that David pursued in Psalm 32:5. Of  Theological value and application at another time,  David indicates that  God forgave the “guilt” of his sin, and not just the sin. This teaching is paralleled by David’s related lament in Psalm 51:12 – “restore to me the joy of your salvation…”

The beautiful take-away from this passage is that forgiveness is available, but confession plays an integral role in forgiveness of the guilt of our sin and the restoration of the joy of our salvation.  The context is a relationship between God and anyone who loves Him; who wants to obey Him and does not want to hurt or grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30).  The Apostle Paul repeatedly cautions us not to even think that we can or should use God’s forgiveness of our sins as a condition for continuing to sin (Roams 6:1-3).

Against the background of his own declared sin, conviction, misery, confession, delivery and restoration, David, from a position of authority, provides several testimonies and exhortations in Psalm 32:6-11, each beautiful in its own way, and collectively indicative of what must be the preferred life-style of every Believer in Jesus Christ, and everyone who is set free from the control of the Devil.

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