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Forgiveness Brings Relief

John Stewart | The Voice of Zion June/July 2023 - The Sabbath Word --

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. I acknowledge 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. 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. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. – Psalm 32:1,2,5–8

The psalms of King David reveal that he was a man who experienced and deeply knew the power and importance of God’s forgiveness in failings, trials and tribulations of life. David was gifted in expressing his thoughts of God’s grace and forgiveness through poems, songs, and music which have been preserved for us in the Book of Psalms.

King David loved music. The Bible relates that David played the harp and also indicates that, even as a young man, music was close to his heart. It is not surprising therefore that Biblical scholars consider Psalm 32 to have been a musical or liturgical piece of David that was later used as a poem or hymn in ancient Israel’s worship services.

David opens the psalm by describing the blessed condition of a child of God who journeys in this life with sins forgiven and in “whose spirit there is no guile”. David then contrasts the blessed, happy condition experienced when one journeys holding faith and a good conscience against the misery he personally suffered when attempting to travel under the weight of a burdened conscience. The difference between the two conditions is stark. Under a pressing burden of sin, David experienced the dryness of a scorching summer sun that parches a desert to drought. Sin pressed on his heart day and night. When he kept silence even his “bones waxed old” all day long.

As Psalm 32 continues to unfold, David describes the return of deep joy and freedom when he was able to “confess” his sin and thus experience God’s forgiving grace and love. Certainly, the child of God today can relate to David’s description of sins and trials that may appear as an overwhelming flood threatening to drown a weak traveler. Then God through David’s psalm provides comfort to even the weakest traveler: “Surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.”

In other psalms as well, David relates of God’s calling love, grace, and mercy. In Psalm 51 for example, David laments of his own sinful nature and recalls a time in his life when he’d attempted to travel under a pressing burden of sin – even unbelief. The historical Second Book of Samuel recounts the same heavy moment in David’s life and describes how God sent the prophet Nathan as an angel or messenger to him: “And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die” (12:13).

David experienced God’s unfathomable mercy and love in the message that Nathan brought from heaven. The incident conveys a beautiful picture of the preached gospel, the audible Word which at the dawn of the New Covenant, God revealed through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is the heavenly Word that can transfer one from the darkness of unbelief to the light of living faith. The power of the gospel – the essence of which is the forgiveness of sins preached in Jesus’ name and blood by the power of the Holy Ghost – also frees the faith traveler of burdens that weigh one down and provides strength to continue the journey heavenward moment by moment.

The forgiving, guiding voice of the heavenly Father bursts forth with deep comfort and love in Psalm 32! When worries and troubles of the journey press the sin-prone, tempted and doubting sojourner, there is yet great comfort in the promise God reveals to His child through David’s psalm: “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go, I will guide thee with mine eye.”

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