Prepare to listen. Read God’s Word with the attitude of a beginner and learner. Hear God’s word to you: I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8)
Read Psalm 32
1Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’,
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
7You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
8I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.
10Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
11Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
The psalmist begins with the relief at knowing sin is forgiven. The word happy, describing this relief, is used twice in the opening lines. In Hebrew understanding, happy isn’t the euphoric feeling we get when good things happen, a feeling that is always transitory. The root meaning of the Hebrew term, according to Beth Tanner, is ‘to go straight’ and is, therefore not a condition that comes and goes but a way of life, an abiding sense that all is well, you’re on the right way. The psalmist is happy because he finally confessed his sin and received forgiveness. Confession didn’t come easily, admits the pray-er. She struggled, refused to confess and ended up experiencing physical sufferings.
The honesty of the psalmist is encouraging. Confession of sin doesn’t come easily to most of us. I pretend things are alright; that I never committed that sin and so avoid God’s presence in order to hide from God’s searching and all-seeing gaze. When confession finally comes, forgiveness is assured and there is relief. Happy are those whose sin is forgiven and who know it.
What words in this psalm connect with you and help you discern more of yourself and what God requires of you?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord, I thank you that you are a forgiving God waiting to shout forgiveness over me when I confess my sin. Keep me alert to my sin so that I come, however far or slow, to receive the grace you offer to help in my time of need. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world happy because God has forgiven you.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.