Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 32 tells the story of great sin and great forgiveness. The presumed background is David’s adultery with Bathsheba. After David got her pregnant, he arranged for her husband to get killed in battle.
The psalm has four movements.
The first movement is joy (vv. 1-2). It is a joy that forgiveness exists, a joy that instead of covering my sin and living in fear of exposure, I can confess them to God and ask him to cover them up. The poet says,
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered (v. 1).
Verse two is also reassuring. It says, “Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them.” God is not the great accountant tracking sin on one side of the ledger and good deeds on the other, calculating which side wins when you die. The good news is that God has quit counting. The poet’s transgressions are forgiven, his sins are no longer counted against him.
The second movement in Psalm 32 tells how the poet felt when he covered up his sin.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer (vv. 3-4).
The third movement is the poet’s confession. When he quit hiding his sin, he told God the truth about what he had done. He lost that crushing burden of guilt and shame. He found that God had taken over the covering up, leaving him free and forgiven. Here’s how he says it:
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover my iniquity.
the guilt of my sin (v. 5).
The fourth movement is heartfelt thanksgiving which encourages others to follow the poet’s example of confession and forgiveness (v. 8-9).
Lord, we pray the confession from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship, 1994 edition:
our sins are too heavy to carry,
too real to hide, and too deep to undo.
Forgive what our lips tremble to name,
what our hearts can no longer bear,
and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment.
Set us free from a past that we cannot change;
open us to a future in which we can be changed;
and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image;
through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
And finally, a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr.
Look with mercy upon the peoples of the world,
so full both of pride and confusion,
so sure of their righteousness and so deeply involved in unrighteousness,
so confident of their power and so imprisoned by their fears of each other.
Have mercy upon our own nation.
Purge us of the vainglory which confuses our counsels, and
give our leaders and our people the wisdom of humility and charity.
Help us to recognize our own affinity with…[the] malice that confronts us,
that we may not add to the world’s woe by the fury of our own resentments.
Give your Church the grace in this time
to be a saving remnant among the nations, reminding all peoples
of the divine majesty under whose judgement they stand, and
of the divine mercy of which they and we have a common need.
(Reinhold Niebuhr in The HarperCollins Book of Prayers compiled by Robert Van de Weyer (New York: HarperCollins, 1993), p. 272.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.