Calvary Road Baptist Church

“GOD’S PRONOUNCEMENTS AND A PRESCRIPTION FOR THE FORGIVEN”

Psalm 32.10-11

 

This morning’s message is the final in a series of Sunday morning sermons dealing with the 32nd Psalm. Allow me to briefly retrace our steps for the benefit of anyone who has not been with us throughout our consideration of this comforting and hopeful psalm in which it is firmly established that God forgives, that He does so on the basis of our iniquities not being imputed to us, and that He promises to preserve the confessing sinner from trouble and to instruct and teach him in the way he should go. This is a psalm that thwarts the day dreams of those who imagine life is a fairy tale existence disconnected from our sins and the dire consequences of our iniquities. Transgressions are criminal. Sin truly is defiling to us and repugnant to God. Iniquities most definitely do incur debt. Such a nature as produces this type of conduct has a damning and distorting effect on one’s spirit, despite whatever pretense of hilarity and laughter is conjured up by those who will spend eternity bemoaning their existence and regretting their insolence toward God.

However, that is not all. This psalm also puts to rest once and for all the pessimism of the skeptical who deny what they cannot see and the cynical who scoff at the thought of existence beyond the end of this life. Knowing only a short term happiness that is utterly dependent upon what happens, such people have no grasp of the blessedness David twice mentions in his opening remarks. Because such refuse to acknowledge their sin to God, and insist on hiding their iniquity under a thin veil of denial and professed innocence of real wrongdoing, of course they have no experience of the forgiveness of their sins, and do not know the security that results from God as one’s hiding place, that results from God preserving them from trouble, and that results from being compassed about with songs of deliverance. Of course, they are not instructed and taught in the way they should go. Neither are they guided by His eye. If they sit under the preaching and teaching of God’s Word at all, they do so with crossed arms and a spirit of nonchalance and indifference to the importance of spiritual matters such as obedience and the worship of our glorious and awe-inspiring Sovereign. So many are exactly like the horse and the mule, having no understanding. And if the Word of God is too pointedly applied to their situation, of course they will “come near unto thee.”

However, the thrust of this psalm is not on the whole negative, dwelling on the wicked and unrepentant. David only acknowledges them for the purpose of laying a foundation for understanding God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, the conviction that is experienced by one subject to the persuasive and probing ministry of the Holy Spirit (who is not directly referred to in this psalm), and God’s promise to look after the interests of the confessing and forgiven sinner as He preserves, as He instructs and teaches in the way we should go, and as He guides with His eye. On the whole, this psalm is uplifting, encouraging, and promising, showing that God is forgiving, that God is restoring, that God does provide for His own, and showing that the godly are not those whose experience is some out of our reach sinlessness and moral perfection. On the contrary, the godly are those who have been recovered from their sins. How are the godly recovered? We are told what God’s doings are in all this, while it is also pointed out quite clearly what the recovered sinner must do. God forgives transgression. God covers (as in hiding from His sight) sin. The LORD does not impute iniquity. Prior to this, David points out that the LORD’s hand was heavy upon David, which I take to refer to the convicting ministry of the unmentioned Holy Spirit. As well, the LORD provides security in the form of being a hiding place, promises to preserve from future trouble, and compasses the confessing sinner about with songs of deliverance. To fulfill His commitment, the LORD further promises to instruct and teach in the way which we should go, and to guide us with His eye.

Recognize that one must never study God’s Word in isolation from the rest of scripture. Therefore, while we are nowhere in this psalm told what the basis is for God’s gracious dealings with the confessing sinner, there can be no doubt from the rest of the Bible that the basis for God’s forgiveness, not imputing to sinners their sins, and such as that, is the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary some 1,000 years after David’s passing. God’s righteousness demands that sins be appropriately dealt with, with God not imputing sins to the sinner only because their sins are instead imputed to Jesus Christ, with the righteousness of Jesus Christ being imputed to the confessing sinner. Having rehearsed what God has done in this confessing sinner’s experience, we ask what the sinner’s involvement is. Verse 4 is the record of David’s conviction and felt guilt: “For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” Verse 5 is the record of David’s repentance, faith, and forgiveness: “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.”

Therefore, we see from this psalm that the LORD forgives. Recognize that from the moment this forgiveness takes place, the confessing sinner’s forgiveness is a matter of his past. Be it five minutes ago, five days ago, five weeks ago, five months, five years ago, or five decades ago, what has passed is past. We also see from this psalm that the LORD promises to provide. He has promised to preserve me from trouble, to compass me about with songs of deliverance, to instruct and teach me in the way which I should go, and to guide me with His eye. Thus, the forgiven sinner’s past has passed and his future is assured. That leaves us with the present for our contemplation this morning, which David addresses in the final two verses of the 32nd Psalm. Stand and read those two verses with me, if you will:

 

10    Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

11    Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

 

Are you forgiven? Are you now awaiting instruction and teaching concerning the way you should go, how you should now live your life? Do you now wonder how you should respond in light of your forgiveness? Good, because David sets before his readers two considerations:

 

First, CONSIDER ACTUAL DESTINIES

 

Forget the pretense. Set aside the play acting whereby individuals always put on the happy face and make like everything with them is perfect and all is well. Even if they think all is well, God’s Word declares what is really going on, in both time and eternity:

Verse 10 begins, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked.” The word translated “sorrows” refers to pain, of both the physical and the mental variety.[1] This suggests real anguish. The word “wicked” translates a word that refers to one who is a criminal, guilty of sin against either God or man.[2] Of course, in this context, David is referring to the wicked as one who is guilty of sinning against God. In other words, you will not get away with it. You will not escape punishment. As a matter of fact, God’s judgment for the wicked has already begun to fall, as Paul so clearly shows in Romans chapter one. Perhaps, without you even knowing, God’s judgment of you because of your sins has already begun. Because of man’s idolatry, verse 24 of Romans chapter one indicates God judges men by giving them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts. Because men worship and serve the creature more than the Creator, verse 26 declares God gives people up unto vile affections. And because people do not like to retain God in their knowledge, verse 28 reveals that God gives them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient, even listing such sins as disobedience to parents to illustrate that God’s judgment of sins begins long before people die. How many people have you heard claim that they are already in Hell in the misery of their present life on earth? They have no idea what awaits them when they pass from this life to the next should they die with their sins unforgiven. This reality about the lost man’s condition should ever and always be on your mind and heart.

“But he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.” What a contrast! What a difference the forgiveness of sins brings about. What an alteration results from reconciliation with Almighty God. What a turnabout issues forth from the transformation of a sinner from an enemy of God to an ally of God, from an opponent of God to a child of God, and from one who is a stench in the nostrils of God to one whose aroma is a the sweet smell to God. And it is all the consequence of faith; “he that trusteth in the LORD.” Not only in this life, but in the next life, “mercy shall compass him about.” What is this mercy that surrounds the forgiven sinner in this verse? “The phrase denotes the abundance of mercies that shall be bestowed upon him here and hereafter, as both grace and glory.”[3] Much more on grace in the message from Philippians that I will bring this evening. For now, understand that mercy is God’s lovingkindness condescending to the needs of His creatures, specifically concerning redemption from enemies and troubles.[4] This mercy is extended to the forgiven sinner by means of faith not only in this life, but also in the next life. What a terrible contrast is here shown between the sinner who trusts in the LORD and the sinner who does not. It is not so much seen in this life, where believers are often set upon by persecutions and afflictions, which is why joy and rejoicing are of such importance to set us apart from the damned and the doomed. However, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke with great clarity about the difference in destinies that will be undeniable when He returns, Matthew 25.41: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Then, in Revelation 21.8, John wrote, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

 

Also, CONSIDER APPROPRIATE ACTIONS AND ATTITUDES

 

While we should ever and always keep in mind the actual destinies that await both those who have trusted in the LORD and those who have not, those who have confessed their transgressions and those who have not, consider also the appropriate actions and attitudes that should arise from your growing appreciation and gratitude for God’s gracious blessings:

 

“Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”

 

Notice how your attitude changes, how your actions are altered, as you apprehend and as you grow to more clearly appreciate your blessednesses. What are the proper responses to one’s sins being forgiven? There are three given here by David:

First, and a response that is really quite passive, “Be glad in the LORD.” I remember when I was glad in the LORD. It was early on in my Christian life, when I had an intellectual appreciation that the gospel was good news, when I had a logical grasp of the benefits of having my sins forgiven, and when I had some vague idea of the concept and the consequence of being a child of God. This has to do with an emotion that arises from your recognition that your sins are forgiven, that you have a relationship with God that is not corrupted or contaminated by defiling sin. You recognize a good thing and you are pleased by it. This is how God directs you to feel as a result of your forgiveness.

As well, you are to “rejoice, ye righteous.” Recognize that this righteousness is not any righteousness that results from merit or good works. Rather, it is the righteousness that is of faith that is frequently referred to by the Apostle Paul and the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament.[5] As I mentioned moments ago, for the LORD not to impute your iniquity to you, He must impute your iniquity to Jesus Christ. Conversely, for you to be righteous without any righteousness you have earned, it must be righteousness imputed to you from the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the righteousness that comes by means of faith in Jesus Christ. Is that not cause for rejoicing? Of course, it is. And while this is not well understood by someone in the days and weeks following the forgiveness of his sins, over time and by means of experience and the study of God’s Word he comes to grasp this blessedness more and more. The result is that he becomes more aware of what he has to celebrate, the righteousness which is by faith in Jesus Christ, its freeness, its wonder, and its marvel. To be sure, the child of God will come to comply with God’s directive that he rejoice. Why so? When his sins are forgiven, the New Testament reveals he will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who will then so affect his personality that joy will be produced.[6] And how will that joy produced by the Holy Spirit manifest itself in the believer’s life? Joy is expressed by rejoicing.

Finally, the actions and the attitudes of the forgiven are escalated even more, to the place where they “shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” This does not refer to the obnoxious shouting of wind-sucking preachers in the Appalachian mountains while they handle snakes. Neither should this call to mind the embarrassing and artificial pretend spirituality that one sometimes sees amongst those whose concept of Christianity is to try and impress each other. That said, “shout for joy” does translates a Hebrew word that means exactly that.[7] There are times in the Christian’s life when you are bursting with delight at the goodness and greatness of God, when you are emotionally charged and perhaps even overwhelmed by His providence, by His answers to prayer, by His impression on your mind and heart during worship or private devotions, and you engage in a spiritual response that is not designed to draw attention to yourself or hold yourself up for admiration, but to call attention to God’s goodness and to make mention of His glory. If such an impulse has never overtaken you, I feel sorry for you. I am sad that your appreciation and understanding of the LORD’s great salvation and work in people’s lives has not so impressed you. I pity the professing Christian who is so constricted by pride and self-consciousness that you live a spiritual life that is, shall we say, constipated? I am not suggesting that you stand up and shout at the next church service. Perhaps you will never do such a thing. That is fine. However, if you are upright in heart, do not refrain to “shout for joy” when you are so impressed by God. Sometimes such shouting for joy will take the form of a good and hearty “Amen” during preaching. Sometimes such shouting for joy will take the form of blessing others with a ringing testimony of answers to prayer or God’s work in someone’s life. At other times, you may be walking down the street engaged in silent prayer to God, or reflecting on His goodness and mercy, and find yourself compelled to open up and say, “My Father, you are so wonderful!” Find something challenging at work? Stumped over a problem you have great difficulty resolving? Consider praying for just a moment, as I have done many times. Then, when God answers your prayer and you are able to resolve the problem, be sure to thank Him, and praise Him. If you are in a work place environment, I would not suggest standing up and cutting loose with a rebel yell. However, a quiet “Thank you, Father,” might be very appropriate.

 

God forgives. God forgives! But those whose sins God forgives do not remain in the same spiritual condition they were in prior to their forgiveness. No. You see, God changes those whose sins He forgives. Even someone who is already a Christian who acknowledges and confesses his sins is changed by God from what he was before, even if he was already a Christian. This is because God instructs those He forgives, teaches those He forgives in the way they should go, and guides those He forgives with His eye. Those activities of God in the lives of those who are forgiven alters them, changes them, and leaves them different than they were before. Therefore, this notion that the Christian life is static, that once one’s sins are forgiven and their relationship with God is established on the basis of trusting the LORD they will then remain as they are for the next decade of life, or until they die, is a profoundly unscriptural notion.

Because the LORD forgives, teaches, instructs and guides believers, it has always been that God changes believers, that He is the only genuine Author of change in a person’s life, and that when someone has a real relationship with God as a result of his sins being forgiven, he cannot remain unchanged. Therefore, understand my Christian friend, that God’s plan is for you to continually acknowledge your sins to Him, and to not make foolish attempts to hide from Him your iniquities. God’s plan is for you to continually confess your transgressions unto the LORD. As you do that, and as He teaches you, instructs you, and guides you with His eye, you will change, you will grow, you will mature in your spiritual life.

My unsaved friend, God forgives. However, God’s forgiveness of your sins requires that you acknowledge your sin to Him, stop all attempts to hide your iniquity from Him under a cloak of pretend goodness, and that you confess your transgressions unto the LORD, which is to say that you agree that wrong is what God says is wrong, sin is what God says is sin, and that what God says sin deserves as punishment you will no longer argue with. Are you concerned about your sins? Would you explore this matter of God forgiving your sins? Understand that God’s plan for the forgiveness of your sins, which He does not reveal in this psalm, is wrapped up in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Shall we talk of the forgiveness of sins that is found only in Jesus Christ?

__________

[1] Francis Brown, S. R. Driver & Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew And English Lexicon, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979), page 456.

[2] Ibid., page 957.

[3] John Gill, The Baptist Commentary Series Volume I, John Gill’s Exposition Of The Old And New Testaments, Vol 3 (Paris, Arkansas: the Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., reprinted 2006), page 662.

[4] Brown, Driver & Briggs, pages 338-339.

[5] Romans 3.22; 4.11, 13; 9.30; 10.6; Galatians 5.5; Philippians 3.9; Hebrews 11.7

[6] Galatians 5.22

[7] Ibid., page 943.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org