Psalm 32 | Finding Real Relief | Andrew Gutierrez
Topic: Stand-alone messages Passage: Psalm 32–32
My name is Will Peterson, once again filling in for our pastor, Andrew, who is on his last week of vacation and will be back with us again next week. And so if I know one thing about Andrew, I know that he’s itching to get back and to get back to work. And so we’re all excited to have him back with us, and his family as well.
I want to turn our attention again this morning to the Psalms. So if you would please open your Bibles to Psalm 32. Psalm 32, another psalm of David. The heading says, “A Maskil of David.” Now any honest scholar will tell you that we don’t know 100% what that means, but it seems to mean some type of instruction, though it could mean maybe it’s supposed to be sung in this particular key or something like that. The best guess that we have is an instruction. And as we read this psalm, we will discover that it certainly is an instruction for us this morning.
Psalm 32 says:
A Maskil of David. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
I grew up in the Midwest in this little town in Indiana called Michigan City, about an hour outside of Chicago. And one of the things—and I trust that there are other Midwesterners here who can attest to that—one of the things that we know how to do in the Midwest is eat. We might not get some things right, but we get that right.
And so I can remember growing up, dessert was of course always a part of the meal. My cousin who was married about ten years ago or so now, his wife was shocked when she began to attend all the family functions, and we had to have dessert with every meal. And we of course said, well, it’s not a meal if you don’t have desserts. We didn’t quite understand that. We didn’t know what gluten was until we moved to California. We, you know, you just pack it in.
And one of the staples in our home then because we liked to eat so much was Rolaids. You know, they would come in the containers of course that you could keep in the cupboard, but they would also come in the little handy pocket rolls, so you could always have your Rolaids with you. Our family preference was the mint flavored Rolaids, though you may have preferred the fruit flavored Rolaids. We can talk about that later.
You may remember—some of you might not even know this; you might not have ever heard of Rolaids before—but Rolaids’ slogan was, “Rolaids spells relief.” And so we took that quite literally, and we were faithful to Rolaids until one day in December of 2010 Rolaids suddenly disappeared off of the shelves. It was discovered that Rolaids were giving off a strange smell. Some people said it was musty, others, it was kind of moldy, and also these Rolaids were causing stomachaches instead of curing stomachaches.
Well, as Johnson & Johnson looked into the issue, they discovered that there were wood shavings and metal shavings that had somehow made its way into the Rolaids. So you could really no longer say at that point in time that Rolaids spelled relief; rather, Rolaids spelled disaster.
They disappeared off the shelves, and you might be glad to know that they are safely back on the shelves including a liquid form and different forms that they present nowadays. Rolaids were supposed to be a source of relief. They were supposed to provide that relief for whatever ailed your stomach, and yet it turned out that they didn’t do that for a while.
Isn’t that the case with what the world always presents to us? Isn’t it the case that the world will offer you different forms of relief, whether it’s Rolaids or whether it’s drugs or whether it’s alcohol or whether it’s a relationship? The world has all kinds of things to offer you that they claim will give you relief, and yet at some point we always realize that it’s empty, that actually what the world promises will be relief spells disaster.
Friends, in this psalm, David from a position of experience is teaching us that the greatest relief that a human being could ever have comes with acknowledging your sin to a holy God. David is living in a prolonged period of sin. That’s very clear from verses 3 through 5, especially 3 and 4.
And we don’t exactly know what time of life this was for David; it doesn’t specify in the heading. Many have—and I think this is probably the case, but we don’t know for sure—but many have attributed this to, just as Psalm 51 is attributed to David’s sin with Bathsheba and that prolonged period of time that he went without confessing his sin for almost a year until the prophet Nathan came and told him a little story that convicted him and said, you’re the man that’s guilty here. So many attribute it to that point in time when David realized he had been living in sin and he turned away from his sin and he turned back to his holy God.
But David is speaking to us this morning, he’s teaching us from a position of experience. He knows. He knows, both intellectually, both from understanding God’s word, but then he also knows from a position of experience that the greatest disaster human beings ever find themselves to be in is the disaster of our own sin. And yet at the same time, the greatest relief that will ever come is the relief that God’s forgiveness brings to that sinner.
Paul loved to preach about that, and in Romans 4 really through 6 he develops that idea, and when he gets to chapters 5 and then into 6, he essentially talks about the sin-crushing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so I don’t know what position you find yourself to be in this morning. I don’t know if maybe there is a sin in your life that you’ve been holding onto and you’ve been kind of kicking down the road, and you know you need to get rid of it but you’re just kind of on the fence, and you think, well, God’s loving and God’s gracious and God wouldn’t ever do anything to afflict me and to put the squeeze on me so to speak.
But friend, take heed to this psalm. Understand that the greatest relief that a human being will ever find, the only real relief that a human being will ever find, is the relief that comes through the Lord Jesus Christ. And so as we look at this psalm, keep your eyes fixed on the one who gives this relief.
As we look at this psalm, I want to break this up into five different parts here. And so we’ll look at this according to five keys to finding real relief. Five keys to finding real relief.
The psalm sort of breaks itself up, and you can see in those paragraph breaks there. There are different opinions about how it should be outlined, but this is the way that I’ve outlined it.
1. Enjoy God’s Forgiveness
The first key then to finding real relief is to enjoy God’s forgiveness. Enjoy God’s forgiveness. We see this in verses 1 and 2. It says, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”
You know, the idea of happiness has sort of gotten a bad rap in Christian circles. We don’t want to be happy; we want to be joyful people, right? That’s an oversimplification of the whole thing. You know what it means to be blessed? The literal translation of blessed is happy.
Christians are to be happy people. The difference is our happiness isn’t like the world’s happiness. Our happiness doesn’t come based upon the circumstances and situations that we find us in. Our happiness comes because our sins have been forgiven, and that certainly brings a joy that accompanies it, but we need to understand that we are to be a happy people.
One commentator, Allen Ross, says that the word blessed is a word that describes the real joy and delight that comes from knowing that one is right with God. It’s that feeling of heavenly bliss or eternal joy over the spiritual release from sin.
And I think that if God has done a work in your heart to cause you to be born again, when you hear that term spiritual release from sin, you remember what that’s like, don’t you? You know what it’s like to have that spiritual release from your sin. You know what it’s like to experience the blessing of God’s forgiveness.
And so David is encouraging us, he’s teaching us to enjoy that, to enjoy the fact that your greatest problem is solved. So what else is there? Come disaster, scorn, and pain. The world rejects me; friends might leave me, but I have Jesus.
David is fixing his eyes, and in turn fixing our eyes, on this God who loves to forgive sinners. How do we know that? Because he sent his Son. Because he sent him into a fallen world, into a world that is plunged into sin and that is filled with sinful people. And yet Jesus never sinned one time, did he? How painful must it have been to be perfectly holy and perfectly righteous and yet to walk among a group of people that were perfectly sinful? And yet he did it, didn’t he? And he finished the work. He didn’t tap out.
So David is saying, fix your eyes on what God has done for you—and I would add of course today, what God has done for you in Christ. David knew the Messiah was coming, but he didn’t have the fullness of revelation and the fullness of God’s plan of salvation, but we do.
And so he describes this person as the one who is blessed, the one who is happy, the one who has an internal confidence that their sins have been forgiven and that their relationship with God is restored.
He describes this sin and he describes this forgiveness in three separate terms. He says, transgression, he talks about. He talks about sin. And he talks about iniquity. He’s doing his best to describe the sort of full-orbed reality of sin.
You see, sin is not just a naughty thing that we do. Please do not teach your children that sin is just a choice that you make. Apart from Christ sin is who we are. Rebels against God. Enemies of God. Born in sin. That’s who we are apart from Christ. But Christ transforms that, doesn’t he, so that it’s no longer who we are; it’s what we struggle with. But I go from being a sinner to being a saint, from being an enemy of God to being a child of God.
Make no mistake, not everyone created is a child of God. John makes that clear in 1 John 2. You’re either a child of God or you’re a child of Satan. Just because God has created you does not mean you’re one of his children. If he has recreated you, if he has caused you to be born again, then you are one of his children. And that is certainly something to rejoice in.
A transgression is a willful act of disobedience. It’s seeing that “No Trespassing” sign and going in anyway. It’s you doing something you knew that you were not supposed to do, and you just said, pfft, nobody’s gonna tell me what to do. This is America. Don’t they understand I have rights? I’m gonna do whatever I want to do. Can you imagine saying that to God? And yet when we sin, that’s exactly what’s happening.
And then he uses the term sin, which means to miss the mark. It’s an archery term really. It’s missing the bullseye, missing the target; or if you prefer basketball, it’s shooting the ball and completely missing everything, thus resulting in what the crowd chants, “Airball. Airball.” It’s totally missing the mark that God sets forth. God says, this is the way that you will live if you want to know me. And we say, okay, then this is the way that I will go. That’s what sin is.
And then he uses the word iniquity, which is evil or perverted or twisted. It’s the very antithesis, it’s the very opposite of God and who God is and the way God says we are supposed to conduct ourselves in light of the fact that he created us and owns us.
But David doesn’t just leave it there. Because he’s not talking about the wickedness of mankind, he’s talking about the blessing of being forgiven. And so he says his transgression is forgiven. Forgiven in this context means to be lifted up or carried away.
If you transliterated this from Hebrew to English, it would spell “nasa.” And so you picture—or at least I picture—a rocket ship when I hear that word. It’s as if God has strapped our sins to a rocket ship and he blasts it out into all eternity. That transgression, that willful act of rebellion against God—that time when God said, don’t do this, and you said, don’t tell me what to do, and you did it anyway—God takes it and he removes it from you. He lifts it from you. He carries it away from you.
And then he says, blessed is the one whose sin is covered. Now we have a misunderstanding of what it means to have your sins covered. We say, well, in the Old Testament their sins were covered; in the New Testament our sins are washed away. But that’s not totally true.
Their sins were forgiven every time a sacrifice was made; the problem was the sacrifice wasn’t good enough to keep them in that forgiven state. That’s the significance of the once for all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. He doesn’t have to make sacrifices over and over and over again. He did it already, and then he sat down at the right hand of his Father, signifying that our high priest has finished the work.
Blessed is that one whose work is finished. Blessed is that one who God does not account their sin to them anymore. The idea of covering, it goes along with God’s idea of a refusal to look at your sin anymore. He doesn’t forget anything, does he? And yet we could say, in a sense, God forgets my sin. God chooses not to see my sin anymore. God chooses not to hold my sin against me anymore.
And then he says blessed is the one who the Lord counts no iniquity. Count is an accounting term. It’s a word that means to credit or to think of. It’s where we get the idea of imputation if you’re familiar with theological terms. Adam’s sin is imputed to all of us according to Romans 5. Adam sinned, and his sin spreads through everybody. But then Christ made the atonement and the sacrifice for sin, and now though faith in him, everybody who has faith in him gets Christ’s righteousness.
So God doesn’t account my sin to me anymore. He doesn’t credit my sin to me anymore. He credits the righteousness of Christ to me now because I have repented of my sins and I’ve believed in Jesus Christ. So in God’s eyes, he doesn’t see my sin anymore, though he knows it’s there and though he knows every time I sin, but he sees me in the standing of his Son.
And so how will I get into heaven? Well, I’ve been a Christian all my life. I’ve been a great person. I really tried hard. No. No, no, no. I will get into heaven on the coattails of Jesus. That’s what it means that God counts no sin toward me anymore.
Paul summarizes it in Romans 4, verses 4 through 8. And he quotes this psalm in particular. He says:
Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works [and then he quotes the psalm]: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
Is that enough to make us a happy people? Is that enough to make us a blessed people, that God has remedied our greatest problem? I think it is. And that’s exactly what we are being taught here this morning. And so that is the first key to finding real relief, enjoying God’s forgiveness.
2. Be Free From the Agony of Silence
And then the second key comes to us in verses 3 through 5, and that is to be free from the agony of silence. Be free from the agony of silence.
Verses 3 to 5—David describes that point when he would not confess his sin. He says, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
At this point, David is taking us on a journey. He’s telling us his testimony of what it was like when he was living in sin, and so he recounts for us, and he takes us on this journey. And I think if we’re honest with ourselves, we can probably relate in some times in our lives when we probably felt this very same thing. He talks about his silence and the physical manifestations that his unconfessed sin had in his life.
Are there psychological problems in a fallen world? Absolutely. Are there physical problems in a fallen world? Absolutely. Are those always tied to my personal sin? No. But can they be? Yes. They can be.
He says his bones wasted away through his groaning all day long. He says God’s hand was heavy upon him. God was putting the squeeze on him. Surely God wouldn’t do that to one of his children, would he? Well, let me ask you, if you have children, would you do that to one of your children who was doing something dangerous? Would you discipline them? Would you correct them? Would you allow them to understand a little bit about the consequences that their sin brings?
See, a loving God doesn’t let his people who say they love him, he doesn’t let them go into their sin. They might wander off for a time, but Jesus says he’s the good shepherd, doesn’t he? A shepherd goes and gets sheep that wander. God goes and gets his sheep that wander.
And so David is recounting this time when God was pursuing him, when God’s hand was heavy upon him, when God was making his life to be fairly miserable, so that he would turn away from the thing that was causing his own destruction. Don’t touch that; it’s hot. Don’t stick your finger in that outlet; it can kill you. That’s the fatherly love of God.
Brothers and sisters, we need to understand that our sin is serious, isn’t it? Jesus has paid the penalty for that sin, and yet when you think about it, those of us who have been forgiven, those of us who in Christ have a righteous standing—how much worse is it when we sin? Those of us who ought to know better, those of us who are no longer slaves to sin, those of us who have been filled with the Spirit of God so that we would have understanding, so that we would have insight, so that we would take God’s word and apply it into our lives—how much worse is it when we sin?
Yes, we can ask for forgiveness for our sin; and yes, God will give that every single time in an instant. But doesn’t your heart break when you sin? Aren’t you just undone when you realize that you’ve transgressed God, when you’ve rebelled against him again?
David is describing that experience. He’s saying, I held on to my sin. We don’t know how long David held on to his sin, but we know it was almost a year when he sinned with Bathsheba. He held on to it. And of course when we hold on to our sin, that leads to more sin, doesn’t it? I hold on to my sin, and my thinking is all wrong. So I treat people wrong. I say things I should not say. I do things I should not do. I live in displeasure of the one who has saved me.
And here, David is saying that caused physical manifestations. He had aches and pains because he wouldn’t confess his sin. God’s hand was heavy on him, and he says, “my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” It was as if he was wandering through the middle of Death Valley with no water, with no supplies, with no hope of ever getting out of there. He’s just wandering around.
His strength is dried up because he won’t confess his sin. He just won’t let it go. And I wonder, brothers and sisters. I wonder. Is there anybody here who finds himself to be wandering in the middle of Death Valley right now? Is there anybody here who knows that they have sin in their life, and yet they’re just kind of waiting? Waiting for that conviction to maybe get a little stronger. Waiting for that desire to confess, the desire to do the right thing, to grow a little bit. Maybe enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Is there anybody here who finds himself to be in that condition today? Well, I pray that you would heed the words of David. My bones wasted away when I kept silent and my strength was dried up. The heavy hand of God was on my life. And yet look at what he says in verse 5: “I acknowledged my sin to you.” I simply said to you, God, this is what I’ve done. “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
A compound term—the iniquity of my sin. Some say it describes the guilt of my sin. I think it’s more likely the sinfulness of my sin. Those who know Christ—we learn this more and more in our lives, but we understand just how sinful sin is, don’t we? Just how wrong it is. Just what an act of rebellion, a high-handed slap to the face it is to our God.
So David says, you forgave all of that. You forgave it. My bones didn’t hurt anymore. My strength flowed back into me. All of a sudden, I was living that blessed life again. And all I had to do was confess my sin. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins [but doesn’t just leave it there, does he?] and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
That’s what sinners need, isn’t it? We need real relief. And we might throw essential oils at it. We might throw medication at it—and I’m not bagging any of those things; I kind of like the peppermint oil. But friend, what my point here is, don’t throw the wrong thing at your sin.
David is saying, when I tried to cover up my sin, God was trying to uncover my sin; but then when I uncovered my sin, God then covered my sin. That’s how God works. He doesn’t want to make your life miserable, though he will if you won’t come to him and confess. He does that because he loves us.
And so I would just encourage you to be free from the agony of silence, and that’s the second key to finding real relief.
3. Avoid Trouble by Seeking God
The third key to finding real relief comes to us in verses 6 through 7, and that is to avoid trouble by seeking God. To avoid trouble by seeking God.
David writes in verses 6 and 7, “Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.”
There’s a transition here marked in verse 6. David begins now to not just share his testimony, but to instruct us, to essentially look at us in the eyes and say, listen to what I’m saying here. Don’t find yourself to be in the position I found myself to be in. Listen to me. Remember who God is. Trust who God is.
And so he says, “Therefore let everyone who is godly.” He’s talking about the righteous. He’s talking about the ones who have experienced this blessing of forgiveness, and yet he says, let them offer prayer to God at a time when he may be found. What is he talking about here?
Well, he’s talking about the very same thing that Isaiah spoke about in Isaiah chapter 55, verses 6 and 7. It says, “"Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
David is saying the same thing that James said in James chapter 4, verse 8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Well, I thought God was always there. I thought there was no place that God is not. I thought he was omnipresent. You’re right. And yet Scripture tells us and warns us that when we find ourselves in a particular situation, we’d better not stay there long. We’d better go near to God. We’d better offer prayer to God at a time when he may be found.
This reminds us that there’s a judgment day coming. For the unbeliever, this reminds you that there’s a time in God’s plan of salvation where he is presently being patient with you, waiting for you to come to him; but then there will be a time when his patience will end. There will be a time when the Lord Jesus comes back that he won’t come back as savior; he will come back as judge and he will whet his sword with his enemies.
Don’t wait until you can clean yourself up a little bit more before you come to God. Don’t wait until after the fleeting pleasures of sin wear off. Don’t wait until you get a little bit older and you have a family and you get married and you have kids, and then you’ll go back to church, and then you’ll start to follow God. Then you’ll start to live for him. You don’t know if you’ll ever make it to that time.
We have right now, and we don’t even know if this sermon is going to finish before the Lord Jesus comes back. So David says, listen, don’t do what I did. It was foolish. Draw near to God now. Come to him now. Avoid trouble by seeking him now.
And he says that God is a protector. “[S]urely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding for me [God]; you preserve me from trouble [God]; you surround me [God] with shouts of deliverance.” Make no mistake, God is God-centered. But in being God-centered, God delights in those whom he saves. It points us back to his glory. It points us back to his plan to save people.
There is an amnesty period that we’re living in right now, a time where if you just come forward, your charges will be dropped. But there’s coming a time when that amnesty period will be over. So seek God now while he may be found. And that’s the third key to finding real relief.
4. Be a Follower, Not a Rebel
And then the fourth key for us this morning to finding real relief comes to us in verse 8 to 9, and it is this: Be a follower, not a rebel. Be a follower, not a rebel.
David now turns to agriculture. He says (verse 8 and 9), “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.”
David is giving us counsel to follow God by confessing our sins to God and not making God treat us as if we were a horse or a mule. Don’t make God put the bit and the bridle on you and force you to go where he demands that you go. He’ll do it if he has to do it. But why not just follow him gladly? Why not just do what he wants you to do instead of making him make you do what he wants you to do.
The writer of Hebrews picks up this idea in Hebrews chapter 12 when he speaks about the discipline of God. In verse 5 to 11 he says:
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
In other words, if you don’t find the discipline of God in your life, it’s because you don’t belong to God. He says in verse 9:
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
David is essentially saying the same thing that the writer of Hebrews is saying. Don’t put off following God. Don’t hold on to your sin. Don’t live in rebellion against God. Don’t be like a dumb animal.
Don’t make God make you do his will. Because if you’re his, then you’re his for all eternity, aren’t you? And if you’re his and you find yourself living outside of his will, then the shepherd will bring you back into his will.
One of the things that I heard someone say recently—the thing that they pray for those who they know who maybe at one point in time have made a profession of faith in Christ but are not living for Christ—they pray that God would make their pain severe enough, but that he would also make it tolerable enough for them to come back to him.
So essentially, God, do whatever you have to do in their life. I’m not asking that you treat them harshly, but at the same time, God, I know that basically that’s what you had to do with me. I know, God, that you take your holiness and the holiness of your people so seriously that in 1 Corinthians 11 Paul’s telling them, listen, some of you are sick and some of you have died because you’ve improperly taken the Lord’s Supper. That’s how serious God is about sin.
How serious is God about sin? Serious enough to send his Son to fix the problem. That’s how serious he is about sin. And yet that’s how gracious and compassionate he is towards sinners, isn’t it?
Friend, don’t be like a horse or a mule. Don’t be like the one who needs the bit and bridle to be commanded and pulled in the proper direction. Follow God. Follow him like you love him.
Pray that he would fill your heart with love more and more for him so that your obedience wouldn’t be obligatory, but your obedience would be from a heart that just says, God, I want to do whatever you want me to do. I’m here, God. I’m just a tool to be used for your glory. I’m just a vessel to be used here, God. I know that my life really doesn’t matter that much, that I’m here for your glory. I’m not here to make myself famous. I’m not here to make myself pleased, God; I’m here to make you famous; I’m here to make you pleased. I have died to myself. Jesus, I my cross have taken. I have answered your call to die to self. Me is done.
And so God, I’m no longer going to pursue my own passions, my own lusts, my own desires. I give it all to you. And if you would use my gifts and my interests for me to serve you, then praise you; but if you don’t, then praise you anyway. God, my life is for you.
I think that’s what we’re missing in American Christianity today. That’s why the waters are so muddied. That’s why so many people in America can say, yes, I’m a Christian. And so many people in America can not live a life dedicated to the God they say saved them. Because they’re doubleminded. Because they’re trying to do their thing and trying to do God’s thing, and that never works, does it? Jesus said, you can’t serve two masters. You can’t do it. You’ll love one, or you’ll hate the other. That’s just the way it is.
Don’t make God make you do his will. Freely do his will. Offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him, every moment of every day. God, today you’ve chosen to wake me up. I have breath in my lungs. This day is yours. I’m done with me. Done with me. This day, God, is yours.
Charles Spurgeon said, “God does not permit his children to sin successfully.” If you find yourself to be in a period of time where you’re wandering from God, and yet you’re trying to keep on the fence, God will not let you sin successfully.
I don’t know how long it will take for him to bring you back. I don’t know the severity of the state that he will bring you back in. I don’t know if maybe he’ll just take you home to heaven right there. But friend, God is serious about his character, and God is serious about the way that we put him on display in our character as well. That’s the fourth key then to finding real relief.
5. Celebrate God’s Forgiveness
And then the fifth and final key for us this morning comes to us this morning in verses 10 to 11, and that is to celebrate God’s forgiveness. Celebrate God’s forgiveness. David says, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”
David is saying, celebrate God’s forgiveness. Understand that the people who choose to live wicked lives—the ones who choose to rebel against God—their sorrows are only going to be multiplied upon them. And you say, well, I know a whole lot of wicked people that don’t seem to have many sorrows in their lives. They’re wealthy, they’re healthy, got great families. Nothing really ever seems to go wrong in their lives.
Friend, I would remind you of the eternal destiny of that person. I would remind you of your eternal destiny. Someone might have a smooth life, this life. But when you compare eighty, ninety, a hundred years to eternity, it’s a drop in the bucket, isn’t it? In hell their sorrows will just be multiplied on top of them. Unending sorrow. Sorrow after sorrow after sorrow after sorrow after hatred of God after hatred of his people after tears and pain and agony. Sorrow. Sorrow. Sorrow. Sorrow. Friend, don’t go there. Don’t go there.
He says that’s the case for those who are wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in Yahweh. This is the same steadfast love that we talked about last week, hesed—the covenant commitment of God to put his love toward and on a group of people who have believed in his Son. That type of love, that type of unending love, that type of unbreakable, that type of never-out-sin-God’s-love love will surround the one who trusts in him.
That’s why he won’t let you have your sin. That’s why he won’t let you live a life that’s not for him. That’s why he will, if he has to, put the bit and bridle on you and pull you back into his will. Because he’s good.
The world preaches a certain kind of love that is a totally demonic idea of love, straight from Satan himself. The Bible presents a love where God is committed to do what is right, committed to bring you into that type of love because your life is meant to put him on display.
He will lead you down paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake—not so that people can say, wow, what a great Christian woman or man that person is. Wow, they really love the Lord. I wish I loved the Lord as much as they did. And you would say, psh, if you just knew what I was thinking earlier today. My life is God’s. I’m just a clay pot. I’m designed to be weak so that it can be seen, visibly and clearly to the whole world, that the power actually belongs to God, not to me.
This body is breaking down. Even at thirty-four years old, this body is breaking down. And one day it will go into the ground, and yet the power of God will remain the same all throughout eternity.
“Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous.” Rejoice—that’s an action; that’s a verb, isn’t it? Rejoice. Shout for joy. Sing to him like you mean it. Live for him like he has saved you. That’s what he’s saying.
He’s saying, celebrate God’s forgiveness in your life—and it’s not just at the point in time when you were saved. Don’t look at your life and say, man, I loved God a whole lot more back then and it’s kind of dwindled. The candle’s kind of burnt out a little bit. I wish my prayer life was like it was then. I wish my Bible reading was like it was then. I wish my evangelism was like it was then.
Friend, that’s a heart problem. God can fix that. Celebrate God’s forgiveness every moment that you have it, which is for all eternity. Celebrate that forgiveness.
He tells the righteous ones to do this. Who’s he talking to there? He’s not talking to the people who have lived a great life. He’s not talking to the people whose good deeds outweigh their bad deeds. He’s talking to the people whose sins have been forgiven back in verses 1 and 2. Those are the people he’s talking to. Why am I righteous? One word: Jesus. Jesus is why I’m righteous.
And so friend, I would ask you, do you know this relief? Do you live like you know this relief? Or do you live as though God’s your helper; God’s the one that comes alongside of you to accomplish your goals and your purposes, to live your life? Or do you live as though you’ve surrendered everything to him? Do you remember what Jesus has done for you every moment of every day in your life?
There was a man named J. Wilbur Chapman who was a Methodist evangelist in the nineteenth century, and he used to tell a story of a distinguished minister in Australia who would consistently talk about sin, and one day one of the church members came in to his office and told him basically, hey, knock it off. You need to stop talking about sin so much. If you keep talking about sin, our kids are going to become sinners. Go figure.
And so he walks to the storage closet, and he pulls out a bottle of rat poison, and it clearly says rat poison. And he puts it on his desk, and he says basically, so what you’re saying is, I should take that label off and replace it with something that’s more pleasant—cleaning solution, or peppermint oil. He said that the milder you make the label, the more dangerous you make the poison.
Friends, all of us have been afflicted with the poison of sin. The antidote is sure and true. It is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is turning from your sin and trusting him, and if you have done that, come whatever may, whatever God has for my life, sure I’ll struggle with it. But I now have his power at work in me. So bring it on.
Come whatever may. Physical pain, emotional pain, mental pain, turmoil, whatever it might be—come what may because my greatest problem is my sin, and Jesus has already dealt with it.
Lord Jesus, thank you so much for dealing with that greatest problem. Thank you so much that you have caused us to experience this same blessing that David has. Thank you for crushing sin and crushing Satan. And though we still feel the effects in this life, Lord, we long for the day when death will be dead, when we’ll live for you forever in all eternity in your glory.
Until that day, Lord, make us more and more thankful, more and more glad for what you have done for us, more and more relieved that our greatest problem has been solved by the only one who could solve it. Keep our eyes on him, we ask in his name. Amen.
More in Stand-Alone Message
June 13, 20212 Corinthians 3 | Facing the Right Direction: How We Grow | Jason Drumm
June 6, 2021Psalm 32 | Blessed in the One Forgiven | John Filkey
May 30, 2021Proverbs 1:7 | The Fear of the Lord | Jason Drumm