Summer of Psalms: Ministry of Confession

BIG IDEA: How do we find a happy life, a joyful life, a life full of content? The thing that Psalms 32 tells us is that the key to that life is something we often resist: confession.

SERIES: Summer of Psalms – In many ways, the Psalms are at the heart of Scripture, but we often disregard them. Let’s reclaim the wonder of the Psalms! Let’s reclaim this God breathed collection of 150 poems of the people of God sung aloud for thousands of years by the Hebrew people, inspiring and teaching generation after generation of Jewish children to communicate with Yahweh the one true God. Written prophets, poets, reflecting upon life with God between the Time of King David and the exile to Babylon, collected and organized for us by Spirit led scribes so that all people might have access to them, memorized and used for God’s people, including Jesus and his followers as “THE” vital connecting point for the hurting, praising, suffering, confused, joyful considerers. We must reclaim the Psalms if we want to learn to pray, to live, to connect with God.

SCRIPTURE: Psalms 32

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
7 You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

  • David has found a good life and he explains the key to that good life throughout Psalm 32.
  • “Blessed”: we often talk about being blessed, but what does that actually mean, specifically in this text when David writes “blessed is the one…”?
    • In this context, “blessed” means “happy.” That’s the base meaning of the word: “happy is the one who…”
  • David’s Experience:
    • 1-4: 1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
    • Prayer and life happen simultaneously: David recounts something he has experienced. It’s a prayer that has come out of his life.
    • Transgression, sin, iniquity: this is a difficult category of subjects for us to talk about, but these are all mentioned in the first four verses of this Psalm. They are major players in what David tells us.
    • “Sin”: the Hebrew understanding of sin is this: missing the mark. Sin to the Hebrews was failing to hit the mark at which they were aiming, like in archery. Sin was missing the mark.
      • Isn’t that oppressive? Our culture often feels that this idea is an oppressive one, that we should be able to figure it out for ourselves; we don’t need God to tell us what’s missing the mark. But despite the societal offense taken at this idea, we all abide by some kind of morality, whether we admit to it or not. As Christians, we look to God to align that morality for us because we assume that he created the world and wants the best for us.
      • Two types of sin:
        • Sins of Comission: actions taken that go against the Law of God (ie David commits adultery).
        • Sins of Omission: actions not taken that, things we don’t do, that God calls us to do (ie David failing to raise his children in the ways of God).
      • Can you think of ways you have missed the mark? Maybe you were aiming in the right direction, but you missed the mark.
      • Blessed is the one who missed the mark: you can still miss the mark and live the blessed life! What a statement of blessing! David is saying that blessed are the ones who have sinned because they can find forgiveness!
    • Deceit: David has kept quiet in deceit instead of telling God about his sin. He hid his sin, and he tells us about how incredibly unpleasant it was for him.
      • Culture of Entertainment: We, as a culture, are always trying to ignore our sins. We constantly keep ourselves busy thinking about anything and everything other than what might be going on in our spiritual lives. We hide from our hidden sin.
      • God’s heavy hand: David felt a deep unpleasantness because he felt the discipline of God heavy on him.
      • Discipline of God: Historically, Christians have been pretty terrible at identifying the discipline of God. Infertility and natural disasters are probably not the hand of God disciplining people for their hidden sin. It’s incredibly difficult to diagnose the discipline of God in others. The book of Job is a good example of this.
        • A good rule of thumb when it comes to the discipline of God is to only diagnose it for yourself. Examine your life, and if you’re not experiencing the fullness of life God has for you, then ask yourself if you have hidden sin in your life. If the answer is yes, then confess it to God.
      • 5: I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
        • Confession: David found the discipline of God to be a kindness because it brought him to the point of confession at which point he began to experience life to the full once again. It’s hard, but like anything, it gets easier the more we do it.
      • Obstacles in the way of confession:
        • Intellectual Obstacle: this obstacle tells us that we don’t need to confess our sins to God. It over-intellectualizes our walk with God by saying, hey, God forgives his children, so I don’t really need to confess. But that’s not true. You can be in right standing with God theologically, but be at odds with God relationally.
        • Authenticity Obstacle: this obstacle reduces our relationship to God to some of our current cultures favorite values: authenticity and being genuine. We say, I know that God is calling me to obey him, but I don’t really feel like doing that, so isn’t it better to be authentic with God about how I’m feeling instead of being legalistic in my relationship with him? There’s a thread of truth in that. Christianity is founded on honesty, yes. Be honest with God about what you want and don’t want, but don’t misunderstand what legalism actually is. Legalism is performing works for God in an attempt to win his favor, it’s not doing the works of God out of obedience even when we don’t want to do them.
      • Fruits of Confession: what does David’s joyful life actually look like for us?
        • Forgiveness (v. 5): we love being forgiven. When you drop the ball on something at work, and someone comes to you and says “hey, it’s okay,” that’s the greatest feeling! To the Hebrews, the concept of forgiveness came with the idea of carrying something for someone else. Forgiveness is having someone lifting the burden off of your shoulders.
        • Evangelism (v. 6): through God’s judgment (this rush of waters), he will cleanse the world of evil. Though judgment is difficult for us to stomach, it’s real, and it’s not a bad thing. Those in this world who have suffered deep injustice, don’t have a problem with judgment. They see it as something hopeful. And because of this impending judgment, we are imbued with a desire to evangelize.
        • Safety (v. 7): when we confess our hidden sin to God, he covers us, he in turn hides us from his judgment and he forgives us. When we have unconfessed sin, we think that bringing it to God will result in God turning into our prosecutor, but in reality, he is our defender.
        • Instruction (v. 8-9): Out of confession, God will teach us, he will instruct us in the way to live. We often expect punishment when we confess our sins, but instead we receive instruction. Discipline gets us to confess, and once we do confess, it’s not met with punishment, it’s met with instruction on how to be better.
        • Joy (v. 10): Confession gives us an intense experience of forgiveness of God and instruction, and that comes with deep joy. Times of confession end in praise. If you haven’t reached the point of joy in your time of confession, then perhaps you aren’t done in that moment. Joy and praise are a natural response to confession.

OUR RESPONSE:

  • How do we get into the habit of confession? Establish patterns that will help you, such as asking God at the end of the day, “how have I missed the mark today?” And he will bring those moments to mind, and when he does, confess those sins to him, and he will meet that confession with instruction.

Want to study this topic more?
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