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Blessed Forgiveness

Posted by Don Johnson on

He should have known better. He never should have stayed at home alone while his army was fighting in the field. He never should have lingered late at night on his rooftop. He never should have set his eyes on that beautiful lady. He never should have inquired about who she was, nor should he have sent for her, nor should he have slept with her. He should have known better. But King David sinned and Bathsheba conceived.

He should have known better. He never should have tried to force Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to sleep with her, hoping that he would think the child was his own. He never should have arranged for Uriah’s death. He should have known better. But King David sinned and Uriah died.

He kept quiet about his sin. He suppressed it. He shoved it deep down inside, thinking it gone for good. He ignored the tug on his heart. He denied the pain in his conscience. He numbed his soul to the persistent pangs of conviction.

All of us can identify with David’s reluctance. No one likes to admit being wrong. No one relishes the thought of confession, far less something as serious as adultery and murder. Facing our faults, whether intellectual or moral, is terribly discomforting.

But here is the good news! In Psalm 32, David expresses the joy and blessedness of forgiving love.

“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 … 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” (Psalm 32:1-2,5).

Complete Failure

David ransacks the dictionary to describe the full extent of his failure. He calls what he did a “transgression” (v. 1), a word that refers to the rebellious and disloyal nature of his actions. He refers to it as a “sin” (v. 1), a word that points to any act that misses the mark of God’s revealed will. And he calls it “iniquity” (v. 5), that is to say, a crooked deed, a conscious intent to deviate from what is right.

Full Confession

David also uses three different words to describe his confession (v. 5). He “acknowledged” his sin to the Lord. He refused to “cover” his iniquity. He was determined to “confess” his transgressions.

Nothing is held back. There is no cutting of corners. No compromise. He comes totally clean. All the cupboards of his soul are emptied. All little black books are opened and read aloud. His confession is like opening the floodgates of a dam. It may be messy at first, but the release of ever-increasing pressure is life to his burdened heart.

Abundant Forgiveness

Three different words for sin. Three different words for confession. But better still, three different words for forgiveness! Blessed is the man whose transgressions are “forgiven” (v. 1). The word literally means “to carry away.” David’s sin, my sin, your sin, is like an oppressive weight from which we long to be relieved. Forgiveness lifts the burden from our shoulders.

Blessed is he whose sin is “covered” (v. 1). It’s as if David says, “Oh, dear Father, what joy to know that if I will ‘uncover’ (v. 5) my sin and not hide it, you will!” David doesn’t mean to suggest that his sin is merely concealed from view but somehow still present to condemn and defeat him. The point is that God sees it no more because He has covered it from all view.

Blessed is that man or woman, young or old, whose sin the Lord does not “impute” or “count” against them (v. 2). No record is kept. God isn’t a spiritual scorekeeper to those who seek His pardoning favor!

I don’t know how all this affects you, but I agree with David when he declares, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven … Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity” (vv. 1-2).

What accounts for this willingness in God to forgive? To what do we attribute the peace and release and joy that flood the pardoned soul? David puts his finger on it in verse 10: “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.” God’s love is the fortress of our lives, the bodyguard of our souls, the atmosphere of immutable affection in which we move and live and breathe.

Perhaps you haven’t sinned as David did. Adultery and murder may not be on your list. Perhaps your sins are more subtle and less public, whether fewer or greater in number. Whatever the case, your only hope, David’s only hope, is the unfailing love of God.

—Sam Storms, condensed

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