Psalm 32:1-7 (Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost—Series A)
“You Forgave Me”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
September 6, 2020
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text today is the Psalm appointed for the week, Psalm 32:1-7:
1How blessed is the one forgiven of transgression, the one absolved of sin. 2How blessed is the person to whom Yahweh does not count iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3For when I was silent, my bones wasted away in my groaning all day long. 4Because day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my vigor was turned into the summer droughts. Selah 5My sin I made known to you and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh.” And you—you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 6Because of this, every faithful one should pray to you at the time of finding out. Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him. 7You are a hiding place for me; from distress you deliver me. With shouts of deliverance you surround me. Selah
Alex grew up in church, but as he got older, he got into online porn. It progressed into something all-consuming. He knew his behavior was wrong, but justified it by comparing it to things that, in his mind, were much worse. He kept going to church like nothing was going on but would look at pornography as soon as he got home. Feelings of guilt and the weight associated with his sin laid on him. He was frightened of letting anyone know about his struggle, fearing what they would think of him.
“I’ve got to hide it—from everyone!” Just imagine what people would think about you if they knew the things you have said, the thoughts you’ve had, what have you done. Is it your hidden porn addiction? Is it your hatred and bigotry toward a coworker? A secret love affair with someone betraying your marriage vows? Something you did way back when? Something you failed to do that you should have? “No one can ever know,” you tell yourself.
“They sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid’” (Gen. 3:7-10 CSB17). Adam and Eve, struck for the first time by the dreadful fear caused by their sin, tried to hide that sin from God in garden. Then, when confronted, they continued trying to hide their guilt by blaming someone else—the woman, the serpent, even God Himself. David, the author of Psalm 32, also tried to hide his sin. He kept silent. And it did not go well: “For when I was silent, my bones wasted away in my groaning all day long. Because day and night your hand was heavy upon me, my vigor was turned into the summer droughts.”
Perhaps David was involved in private deceptions of self-justification and self-defense. “Well, I know it’s not right, but it’s not as bad as . . .” Did he invent logical excuses for himself? “I need a little pleasure right now.” “It’s not that bad. Besides, I can stop any time I want to.” “No one will ever know.” “It’s okay. Sometimes two wrongs make a right.” For David and for us, there is deceit in us. We try to cover up our sins and failures and guilt with nothing more than the fig-leaves of self-justification and excuses that, in the end, will leave us nothing but unclothed and exposed before God Himself in His judgment against us and our sinful thoughts, desires, words, and deeds.
We try so hard to hide our sins from others, from God, and from ourselves. We live a lie. We live as hypocrites, saying one thing and yet doing another. Like Alex, going to church, playing the part of a Christian, while only returning as soon as the service ends to our secret pet sins. And the result? You’ve felt it as much as David did—bones wasting away. God’s hand heavy upon you, working on you through the Spirit and His Word of Law, turning your actions of self-justification and denial into self-despair. One in whose spirit there is no deceit is a person, who because of the Lord’s work within Him by the Spirit, no longer hides his or her sin from himself or from God. Outwardly, we might be silent about what we have done or said or are doing. But inside, at the core of our being, in our “bones,” we are full of turmoil. Hidden sins and covered iniquities cause us to waste away from the inside out, and this wasting away can manifest itself in physical ways too—anger, depression, anxiety, muscle aches, low self-esteem.
And through it all, what is God doing? He lays His hand heavy upon us. The old sinful nature in us, the Old Adam, wars against the Holy Spirit and the new person created within us through Baptism and the Gospel. Through the condemnation of God’s holy Law, through the work of the Spirit in revealing that we are not in line with what we have been called to be in Christ Jesus, the Spirit reveals the truth to us, that despite all our pretend and denial and covering-up, you and I are only helpless, sinful creatures, subject to God.
God loves you so much that He does not want you lost in your sins. He doesn’t want you to live in the denial of your sin, pretending it’s not there or that it’s not that bad. It is. Sin kills, condemns, and separates you from God. So through His Word of Law, God the Spirit shows you your sins and brings you to the reality that you are a poor, miserable sinner who would die in your sins. God gave David no rest—day and night His hand was on Him—until all David could do was speak the truth and confess his sin. In the Apology of the Augsburg Confession we read, “Such confession of sin, which is made to God, is contrition [sorrow] itself. When confession is made to God, it must be made with the heart, not only with the voice, like actors on the stage. Confession is contrition in which, feeling God’s anger, we confess that God is justly angry and that He cannot be reconciled by our works. Yet, we seek for mercy because of God’s promise. Such is the following confession, ‘Against You, You only, have I sinned … so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment’ (Psalm 51:4). This means, ‘I confess that I am a sinner and have merited eternal wrath. Nor can I set my righteousnesses, my merits, against Your wrath. So I declare that You are just when You condemn and punish us. . . . Yes, our merits cannot satisfy Your judgment. But we will be justified in this way, namely, if You justify us, if through Your mercy You count us righteous.”
In our own confession of our sins, we identify with David in Psalm 32. We identify with his need to confess and receive forgiveness. Only someone who has known the despair and anguish of being under God’s hand of Law can appreciate with joy the forgiveness of sins and see the blessing of God’s forgiveness. “How blessed is the one forgiven of transgression, the one absolved of sin! How blessed is the person to whom Yahweh does not count iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” After tasting the Law and God’s wrath and displeasure, God’s word of forgiveness is the greatest blessing, because it means life and salvation for you.
David calls Yahweh a “hiding place,” indeed, a “place of deliverance.” The apostle Paul writes to the Colossians, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3 ESV). It is because the Lord Jesus shed His blood that your transgressions are forgiven, that your sins are absolved, literally covered and atoned for by the precious blood of Jesus, the Lamb without spot or blemish. It is at the cross that Jesus purchased with His blood your full and complete forgiveness for all your sins. And that includes the ones you and I try to hide and justify and deny.
Our certainty of forgiveness is in the Gospel promises. We first experience the gift of forgiveness in our Baptism into Christ in which the old self is put to death with Christ and raised to new life along with Him. Titus 3, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5–6 ESV). The Gospel promises of forgiveness and life are yours and mine every day as the Holy Spirit works true fear and sorrow over sin in our hearts so that we do cry out to God, only to hear from the pastor as from God Himself, “I forgive you all your sins.”
You and I are the ones whom God has blessed in Christ through the Gospel by the working of the Spirit with the forgiveness of all our sins. This faith gives rise to our daily prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses.” With faith in Christ our Savior from sin, we pray that our Father in heaven “would deal graciously with us and forgive, as He has promised, and so grant us a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer [Hebrews 10:22]. . . . Such a confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the certain knowledge of the forgiveness of sin,” as David wrote in our Psalm, “My sin I made known to you and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh.’ And you—you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
 Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 172.
 Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 419.