Psalm 32: From a Heavy Hand to Our Hiding Place: The Blessedness of Being Forgiven

When it comes to analyzing our society, it seems that our culture struggles with the notion of guilt. In a 2017 article in the UK’s Guardian, Devorah Baum starts off the article by saying, “I feel guilty about everything. Already today I’ve felt guilty about having said the wrong thing to a friend. Then I felt guilty about avoiding that friend because of the wrong thing I’d said. Plus, I haven’t called my mother yet today; guilty. And I really should have organised something special for my husband’s birthday: guilty. I have the wrong kind of food to my child: guilty. I’ve been cutting corners at work lately: guilty. I skipped breakfast: guilty. I snacked instead: double guilty. I’m taking up all this space in a world with no enough space in it: guilty, guilty, guilty.”

Later in the article, she says something that I found interesting: “What is the potency of guilt? With its inflationary logic, guilt looks, if anything, to have accumulated over time. Although we tend to blame religion of condemning man to life as a sinner, the guilt that may have attached to specific vices–vices for which religious communities could prescribe appropriate penance–now seems, in a more secular era, to surface in relation to just about anything: food, sex, money, work, unemployment, leisure, health, fitness, politics, family, friends, colleagues, strangers, entertainment, travel, the environment, you name it.”

As Baum goes through the various types of guilt, and even believes that society blames religion for this notion of self-effacing guilt, she notes that the secular world does the same thing, assigning guilt to parents, to certain races, to political parties–just venture into the world of social media. If you say what you really feel about something, the trolls will come out and demean you for having such ideas that are too right, too centric, too left. Guilt is a significant part of who we are, and I would suggest that all guilt–especially guilt that comes from understanding God’s Word–is necessary and helpful!

This Psalm takes us on a journey–a journey of going from the heavy hand of God due to our sin to the hopefulness of our rescue to the way we are called to help others in their understanding of this guilt and how Christ assuages that guilt.

The Valleys You Walk (Poem)

There is a type of fatigue
That sleep cannot beat
Nor make retreat.
It is a sadness of soul
From pole to pole
That afflicts the whole
Of your body and mind
Unlike any kind
You see or feel
Or experience–real
Truth needs apprehending,
Needs comprehending
Without wasting or spending
Time denying or relying
Or justifying away the reasons
The seasons that take you through the
Valleys you walk.
Let’s talk.

It’s the problem of expectations
We have in the relations
That form us, that storm us
In matters either real or perceived
The latter which deceives
Unless we receive
Truth, not “truth” conceived
In the mind of man
That cannot span
In the realm of time that sets a trajectory
Which is affecting me
In the here and now.
How?

Our trajectory goes to into eternity
So even the hurt in me
Keeps hurtin’ me
The reflected perspective
Is the eternal objective
Of keeping my eyes on Jesus–
Even when my heart is in pieces.
When my eyes are on me
I want to flee.
When my eyes are on others,
I have my ‘druthers,’
When my eyes are on Him,
I can’t just skim the rim.
I need to go slow ’cause
I need to focus
On that which is true
To keep that in view.

Feelings are filling.
I m just be willing to engage
That which must stay center stage.
Christ.
Our all in all.
He breaks our fall.
To Him, I’ll call.
I won’t stall.

(2022)

Why I Love Our Summer in the Psalms Series

Each summer at our church, we break off whatever other series or book I am preaching through and camp out in ten of the Psalms. We started this in 2019, going through Psalms 1-10 and continuing the pattern. I joked with our congregation that at this rate, we will finish Psalm 150 in August of 2033–at this point, a scant 11 years from now.

Why do we spend time in the Psalms like this? And why should this be something your church should do.

First, it is the second largest book in the Scriptures. Lest I lose you upfront with this statistic, I can almost hear your response: “Um, the Psalms have 150 chapters. That’s more chapters than any other book.” Yet, if you go by word count, the Psalms contain just over 30,000 words, second only to the book of Jeremiah at just over 33,000 words. Even with this, second place is no slouch. Size does not indicate importance (otherwise, books like Jude would diminish in value–and who could say that with a straight face?).

Second, they cover a wide range of Christian issues and emotions. From praise to thanksgivings to laments to imprecatory Psalms, God gives us a book that gives a voice on the mountain, on the plateaus, and in the valley. The excitement of seeing God move and work to the disappointment of God’s apparent absence and allowance of events may startle the new reader who did not expect such a stark reaction from the Bible writers.

Third, these were originally intended to be sung. The Christian faith is a singing faith. By singing, we put music to our doctrine and devotion. Minister and musicologist Erik Routley wrote a book on church music called “Duty and Delight.” Twice in the New Testament, Paul invoked the worship through “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5:21; Colossians 3:16), showing that these were not merely texts to read but also texts to sing. Having said that…

Lastly, these texts show us the Messiah. The New Testament quotes the Psalms prolifically, usually in connection with their prophecies about the coming Messiah. Psalm 2, 16, 110 and numerous others show the nature and work of the coming King Jesus. As we continue in these Psalms over the summers, we will do all we can to show you the connection.

What are some ways the Psalms have blessed and encouraged you?