Monday, November 24, 2014

What Shall We Do?

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Acts 2:37-39

What shall we do when we find that God is holy and we are sinful? Psalm 1 paints a picture of the blessed man as a fruitful tree, yet this is not the state that we naturally find ourselves in. We find in Psalm 32, and in the rest of Scripture, that there is no blessedness without forgiveness; sin is the universal problem of mankind (Romans 3, Psalm 51). David takes us through both his experience of feeling guilt in sin and joy in forgiveness. He then goes on to describe his close relationship with God as his Preserver and merciful Teacher. Psalm 32 proclaims a complete circle of justification and ongoing sanctification, so in many ways, singing this Psalm is like giving a testimony. Having been forgiven, followers of Christ can sing Psalm 32 while meditating on God’s many mercies throughout their lives. To those who can find no rest from their burden of sin, Psalm 32 is a song of hope, a song for the sinner yet without Christ, a song for the stumbling Christian. Christ is the answer to our problem of sin.

6Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. 7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:6-7

Psalm 32 (NKJV)
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Psalm 32 starts with a benediction, a declaration of blessing upon those forgiven by God. The fact that this benediction exists at all, that God forgives even a single sinner, is a source of great wonder. Notice that the blessedness is not earned but instead “the Lord does not impute iniquity.”  Furthermore, the blessed man is changed in the inner man and, as a result, bears outward fruits (Matt 7:17; 2 Corinth 5:17). It is neither a self-deceptive trick nor merely an external change, but, as Jesus explains in John 3:1-21, a person must be born again, made into a new person. We see David’s personal experience in the next two verses.

When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah

In contrast with a tree beside the rivers of waters, David pictures his suffering as the very inner supports of his body decaying and as God’s mighty hand pressing down on him. Maybe there was a time in David’s youth when he did not put his trust in God, so perhaps he is thinking of those first moments when he realized that he was a sinner. Or perhaps he is meditating upon a time when he fell into a pit of sin such as the incident involving Bathsheba and Uriah. Either way, we see that sin is a curse that brings death to those who do not seek God for forgiveness (Rom 6:23; Gal 6:7) and chastisement upon His children (Hebrew 12:6). Personally, verses three and four apply to and remind me of two different times in my life. I remember realizing the stench of my sin before finding peace in Christ, and also these verses describe my temporary periods of defeat to sin. But the horror of sin only makes the next verse of Psalm 32 all the sweeter.

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

The Bible contains many remarkable statements such as verse five which we often can overlook. David declares at the end of verse five that God forgave him of all his sins. So what did he have to do to gain forgiveness? Do we have a declaration of any great work or life of holiness? No! Jesus Christ paid the price of sin for all who acknowledge their sin and confess it to God (Acts 2:37-38). This is my favorite verse of the Psalm, for it shows hope and joy after a time of distress. When I have a difficult time remembering God’s forgiveness through Christ, Psalm 32 reminds me how God has been so merciful to me in the past and to past saints such as David.

For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You
In a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters
They shall not come near him.
You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

With such mercy available, now is the time to seek God and pray to Him. Verse six goes on to say that the time of forgiveness is limited. There is coming “a flood of great waters” in which only those whose transgressions have been covered will be safe. When singing this Psalm, we are reminded that God is our Father, the One to whom we can now pray and go in times of trouble. Sin no longer bars us from God’s holy presence, and so we can now sing verses six and seven with joy! As a forgiven people, we have a new expectation in God, for He is our good Father in heaven. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”(Romans 8:14-15)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.
Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.

Just as God saves us through justification then sanctification, He answers David’s prayer with forgiveness and then instruction. Though some regard this section as David’s wise counsel to his fellow man, I believe it is more likely that the Lord Himself speaks in verses eight and nine. He first tells us that He will teach us but also gives commands on how we are to respond to His teaching. I could always clearly see the imagery of a stubborn horse or mule in my mind, however more recently I have understood by experience what it is like to be a stubborn mule. I look back and see how God has restrained and rebuked my sinful thoughts or daily habits. Though I often mourn over being like a spiritual mule, it is also comforting how God does not let us wander to our destruction. Verse eight is a promise for all forgiven people to cling to, that God will not leave us in our tendencies toward sin. As Paul reminds us, it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13) and it is Christ “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;
And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Each person begins in the same state of sin and misery, which David describes in Psalm 51 as his being “brought forth in iniquity;” that is, being a sinner from his very conception. Yet the end of Psalm 32 shows a great contrast between those who trust in the Lord and those who do not. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior whom we will praise forever and ever! Not only did He save us from our sorrowful life of sin and from our well-deserved end of eternal suffering in hell; He has also clothed us with His righteousness, so that we may shout for joy and be glad in His presence! We are thus commanded in verse eleven to be glad and joyful, to obey God in a way which should be most natural to us as forgiven sinners.

Psalm 32 takes us through a complete journey of both self-examination and meditation upon God. In it we sing of our sorrow in sin, the merciful forgiveness of God, our new expectation in God as our Father, and His guidance throughout our lives. If you are unfamiliar with the salvation that is provided through Jesus Christ, I would encourage you to listen to this excellent sermon on Romans 6:23 here.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23


  1. This is such an awesome blog! I love the inspiration from God because he has helped me do so many things in my life! :) I need to add some more religious aspects to my blog
    -Jenna <3
    Follow me? The Chic Cupcake

  2. I absolutely love your blog! Honestly i never thought I come across such an amazing blog!