Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE CONFIDENCE OF THE FORGIVEN”

Psalm 32.6-7

After an interlude for Grandparents Day last Sunday, we again take up our brief series of messages from the 32nd Psalm, today’s message being titled “The Confidence Of The Forgiven.” In the hopes that you have been reading the 32nd Psalm morning and evening as I have requested, investing two minutes each morning and two minutes each evening in what can be called a synthetic study of the psalm, and because our scripture reading this morning was the 32nd Psalm, I would like you to turn directly to our text at this time, Psalm 32.6-7. Please stand to read those two verses with me aloud:

6      For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

7      Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

I began to observe the phenomenon shortly after my own conversion to Jesus Christ in 1974. It first came to my attention in the form of indignation expressed to me by several who had before my conversion been friends with whom I got along wonderfully. However, once I began reading my Bible and attending church, my colleagues would frequently ask me questions related to my changing convictions. It would typically take place when I was invited to engage in behavior I was once eager for, but had developed an aversion to. An invitation would be offered. I would as graciously as I knew decline. I would then be asked to state my reason for declining. Then some form of exasperation would be flung in my face. For a while I was at a loss to explain what was happening. My natural curiosity, coupled with the frequency of these incidents, provided me with enough evidence to arrive at a conclusion that has held up over the decades. Just about everyone thinks that the way a person establishes a relationship with God, or comes to the conviction that he is assured of a home in heaven when he dies, is by some form of works righteousness. That is, even among those who dispute the nature and existence of God, there is a natural tendency to think that the way you get into God’s good graces, the way you come to be sure that you will go to heaven when you die, is to be good in some way. This is because virtually every non-Christian religious belief known to man is based on doing enough good that God will be so pleased with you that your good deeds sufficiently outweigh your bad deeds and the scale of justice is tipped enough in your favor to allow your entrance into heaven. Thus, if someone comes along with real assurance of his salvation, which is to say that he has confidence concerning his relationship with God, the forgiveness of his sins, and the certainty of his eternal destiny, most people misread such confidence as being the result of that person thinking he has done more good than they have done, that he thinks he is Joe Holy. Therefore, it is only natural when confronted by such a person to jump to the conclusion that his confidence he is going to heaven when he dies must mean he thinks he is so much better than me, because I have no such confidence.

Never mind that the new Christian professes that he does not think he is worthy of God’s favor, that his forgiveness of sins and assurance of heaven is unrelated to any good deeds that he has done. Those who are not Christians rarely pay close attention to what a new Christian actually says. The notion of doing good deeds as a means of gaining heaven is so deeply ingrained, giving to God so that He is pleased to reward you with salvation seems so logical, that anyone who is more sure of heaven is assumed to think his assurance is based on his belief that he is more good, that he has done more good, and that he more surely deserves heaven than others do. Why were my colleagues perturbed with me? Why are your friends and loved ones frequently perturbed with you? It is because they are convinced by their own reasoning that you think you are better than they are if you have assurance of going to heaven when you die and they have no such assurance. This explains why they are so eager to assail you for being a hypocrite when they see you do something wrong or inconsistent with your Christian profession. Forget that one cannot become a Christian without an ongoing acknowledgment of sinfulness.[1] Forget that Titus 3.5 declares, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us.” Pay no attention to verse 5 of the 32nd Psalm, where David declared, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”

There is no such thing as a real child of God basing his relationship with God on doing good deeds, on being better than anyone else, or in any way deserving any of the blessings God graciously bestows on him. Yet, despite the fact that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, despite the fact that the believing sinner’s sins are not imputed to him and his transgressions are forgiven, the forgiven sinner can still display in his life, by both attitude and actions, confidence born of the assurance of his salvation.

This morning we will consider the confidence of the forgiven, as seen in our text by the forgiven sinner’s reaction to God’s forgiveness and the forgiven sinner’s realization from God’s forgiveness:

First, THE FORGIVEN SINNER’S REACTION TO GOD’S FORGIVENESS

“For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.”

Three observations arising from verse 6, which is David’s reaction to his forgiveness in verse 5:

First, let us observe how the verse begins. David writes, “For this.” For what? What does David mean when he writes “For this”? To what is he referring? Some are of the opinion that when David wrote “For this” he was referring to his sinfulness. Others are of the opinion that when David wrote “For this” he was referring to the fact that God is merciful. However, though both opinions are certainly true, I am of the opinion that the simplest answer to the question is the best, that David was referring to the last sentence of the previous verse. “I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” Thus, the “For this” at the outset of verse 6 is the natural follow-on to David’s confession of his transgressions to the LORD and the LORD’s forgiveness of his iniquity. Because the LORD forgave the confessing David, arguing from smaller to greater, arguing from the particular case of David to the general principle that applies with everyone, he transitions from his own experience to the principle that applies to all men with the phrase “For this.” At the risk of complicating the matter for you, allow me to point out something akin to what I pointed out two weeks ago. David does not state here that the LORD forgave the iniquity of his sin because he confessed his transgressions unto the LORD. That would be the case if God is responding to David, if God is reacting to his faith. However, faith is not the instrumental cause of sins not being imputed to the sinner. Rather, faith is the instrumental means of sins not being imputed to the sinner.

Next, “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found.” Do you see what the unsaved generally miss when they react to the joy and confidence they observe in the life of a believer who knows his sins are forgiven, who knows when he dies he has a home in heaven, who knows Jesus Christ as his savior, and who knows God? With respect to his own sins, who here is shown to pray? The godly. The godly. The unsaved and unbelieving are hardwired to believe that confidence born of assurance of your salvation is somehow opposed to you thinking you are a sinner. Yet David writes of the sinner praying to God in reaction to his sins being forgiven. His sins being forgiven. So, what prompts a believer whose sins are forgiven to pray to God? Hello? Sins are a barrier. Isaiah 59.2 declares, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Sins produce a guilty conscience. Unconfessed and unacknowledged sins produce a hardened heart and eventually a seared conscience. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they did not cry out to Him for forgiveness. They ran and hid.[2] However, admitted sins, confessed sins, acknowledged sins, sins that the offending party does not foolishly attempt to hide from God (or deny that his deed was, in fact, sinful) are forgiven, thereby clearing the way for renewed prayer to God in a time when He may be found. Thus, implicit in this verse is the recognition that the godly are sinners. Only sinners need their sins forgiven. Only sinners have their sins forgiven. However, not all sinners’ sins are forgiven. David here implies that there are times when God cannot be found. When can God be found? He obviously cannot be found when He is not sought, Isaiah 55.6: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” He obviously cannot be found when His existence is denied. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is,” Hebrews 11.6. Consider, also, that God cannot be found when one’s attention is focused on nonsense and foolishness, Psalm 119.37: “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.” The reality is that God can be found when He turns the sinner about, Jeremiah 31.18: “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.” How is this accomplished? Listen to the words of the Savior, in Luke 19.20: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Though David focuses on the fact of forgiveness and one’s reaction to it a thousand years before the coming of Christ, we know that God sent His Son to die on the cross, that the Lord Jesus Christ in turn sent His disciples to preach the gospel to every creature, and that when the gospel is preached in the power of the Holy Spirit of God to sinful men, the first stirrings of their heart in response to God is a curiosity, a consideration, a seeking if you will while God may be found. And of course, we understand that God can only be found through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, because by Him sinners believe in God, First Peter 1.21.

Third, we read “surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.” It must be admitted that this is a very troublesome sentence to understand, and there is great diversity of opinion concerning its meaning. Just understand that the word “him” in this sentence does not refer to God, but to the forgiven sinner. That understood, opinions tend to then fall into two camps: First, there is opinion that this is an allusion to the Flood, with forgiveness being then likened to the safety of Noah’s ark, where there was deliverance from all the dangers that overwhelmed those who were not forgiven.[3] Second, there is opinion that this is an allusion to the parting of the waters of the Red Sea when God delivered the Israelites at the time of the Exodus, and then brought the flood of water back again to overwhelm the pursuing chariots of Pharaoh and destroy the Israelite’s antagonists.[4] Whatever the specific allusion David suggests here (and he may have intentionally left his allusion a bit indistinct), the reaction to one’s deliverance in either case is entirely predictable. Did the Israelites complain during their wilderness wanderings? Yes, the Biblical record is clear about that. However, common sense and rationality recognizes that God does not deliver to then destroy or forgive someone to then fail them. The right response to deliverance, to forgiveness, then, is confidence born of a recognition of God’s character and faithfulness. Of course, your lost loved ones will become perturbed at you for the assurance you have of your salvation, at the confidence you display as a result of your sins being forgiven and your adoption into the family of God, and of the relative importance to you of your brothers and sisters in Christ. However, your confidence is not in yourself, but in God, and springs from the assurance that He is your Father. The reason your friends, family, and colleagues react with chagrin is because having no such relationship with God, having no experience of the forgiveness of their sins, without any comfort of a conscience that is finally clear, they mistake your confidence in God for confidence in yourself, for arrogance.

Next, THE FORGIVEN SINNER’S REALIZATION FROM GOD’S FORGIVENESS

“Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

Three realizations, really, arising from verse 7, which I began to allude to moments ago:

First, the forgiven sinner realizes that “Thou art my hiding place.” Recognizing that the divine Persons of the Trinity are not so clearly distinguished in the Old Testament as is found in the New Testament, allow me to read one commentator concerning this phrase: “Hiding in God, from God! From God the Judge and Punisher, we hide in God the Pardoner, the Saviour, the Father! Selah! Think of that! The sinner condemned, confessed and penitent, finding refuge in the Arms of Jehovah.”[5] Of course, David here is alluding to the provision in the Law of Moses of the cities of refuge, where an offender could flee to escape the avenger in cases of manslaughter.[6] An obvious type of the Lord Jesus Christ, we recognize that in God’s marvelous provision for the forgiveness of the sinner, His Son Jesus Christ is the place of refuge in which He saves the fleeing sinner from the wrath of God. Thus, the gospel is the good news that the Second Person of the Triune Godhead saves undeserving sinners from the much deserved wrath of the First Person of the Triune Godhead. And if a sinner does not own Jesus as his hiding place, he has no place to hide. Before leaving this phrase, let us be careful to observe the personal nature of what David writes here: “Thou art my hiding place.” This is not an abstraction with him. Neither is this in any way formulaic. David has no concept of any plan of salvation in his mind or heart. This is a personal matter between him and his God, as it is whenever there is real salvation and forgiveness of sins.

Next, the forgiven sinner realizes that “Thou shalt preserve me from trouble.” Notice that David is still very personal, with this word “thou.” He is still addressing his God. Does God forgive the confessing sinner to then forget him? Does He forgive transgressions and cover sins only to then leave the one once wonderfully blessed to come under some future curse? Of course, that is not the case at all, though the Devil and his minions work feverishly to convince us it is the case. The reality is that what God starts He finishes, and what He begins He fully completes. If God has delivered a sinner from trouble by forgiving him, rest assured that God shall also preserve you from trouble in the future. Paul writes as much in Philippians 1.6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Finally, the forgiven sinner realizes that “Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” If you meditate and reflect upon verse 7, you will recognize something in addition to the intensely personal nature of David’s relationship with his forgiving God. First, God is his hiding place. Next, God is his preserver. Third, God compasses him about with songs of deliverance. Thus, the salvation graciously given by God protects from past penalties, provides future preservation, and surrounds the forgiven believer with songs of deliverance. This, of course, speaks of joy and rejoicing, with the future aspect of it all meaning there is hope.[7] In Psalm 34.7-8, David writes,

7      The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

8      O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Can you associate songs of deliverance with someone who recognizes that the angel of the LORD has established a perimeter of protection around him, that no harm can possibly come to him, and that his safety is directly related to God’s own reputation for keeping His Word? That would make anyone sing, would it not?

God forgives. Is it not wonderful and glorious that God forgives? That is the thrust of this psalm, though David has not in this psalm explained how God forgives, or on what basis He forgives, with fuller explanations of such things that are only hinted at in the writings of Moses being left to the prophet Isaiah and the New Testament writers.[8] We know that God forgives, and that God’s forgiveness is concurrent with the forgiven sinner’s acknowledgment and confession of his sins and transgressions.

You will notice that our text, and the entire psalm we are studying in this series of messages, makes no mention of someone forgiving himself. Such a thing is never mentioned anywhere in the Bible. The reason for that is so simple. To forgive yourself is tantamount to a bank robber deciding himself that he is not guilty of robbing a bank, or a murderer choosing to absolve himself of any responsibility for a homicide. No one needs his own forgiveness of himself for his sins, because such a concept is completely stupid. It is nonsensical. It is such arrogant presumption as behaving like you are the god of the universe and for all to be well you and only you have to grant forgiveness to yourself. So, a guy molests a child and then says, “I forgive myself”? A drunk driver is responsible for a mother and child in a stroller on the sidewalk being killed, but only needs to forgive himself for all to be well? What lunacy.

Everyone needs his sins forgiven, since there are dire consequences for passing from this life to the next with unforgiven sins. Yet only God forgives sins. “Who can forgive sins but God only?”[9] What we are focused on today is the confidence a sinner comes to possess as a result of God’s forgiveness. However, it is no confidence in yourself, but in the One who has forgiven you. Once your sins are forgiven, there is produced a reaction to your forgiveness. That is seen in verse 6. Once your sins are forgiven, there is also a realization that unfolds in your mind and heart as a response to your forgiveness. That is seen in verse 7.

May I remind you that David lived and died one thousand years before the Lord Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary and suffered the death of the cross for sinner’s sins, before His resurrection and ascension to heaven? Thus, we can understand a bit more easily why God through David tells us so much about the forgiveness of sins and the sinner’s response to his sins being forgiven, while telling us very little about the One who would ten centuries later make it all possible. Just know that He is name is Jesus, and He is the Son of the living God, as well as being the Christ, the Anointed One, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. You need your sins forgiven, but there is no forgiveness possible apart from Him. If you would like to know more of Him whom to know is life eternal, I am at your disposal.



[1] 1 John 1.8-10

[2] Genesis 3.8

[3] Genesis 6.13-8.19

[4] Exodus 14.13-31

[5] J. Elder Cummings, The Psalms - Their Spiritual Teaching, (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1912), page 182.

[6] Exodus 21.13; Numbers 35.4-34

[7] In scripture hope is not wishful thinking, but the confident expectation of future blessing based upon the promises of God.

[8] Genesis 3.15; 22.1-14; Isaiah 52.13-53.12

[9] Mark 2.7; Luke 5.21



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org