WATCH THE SELAH’S!!
Make note if your Bible doesn’t have them; following v.4, 5, 7. Re-read psalm later, pausing for serious reflection in those places.
“the joy of” – 513M hits; “the joy of forgiveness” – 231K hits; 2000:1 ratio. 1,999 things more important in minds of world than being forgiven; 1,999 places other than Christ and the cross to look for joy; true primarily because unsaved are unwilling to acknowledge that apart from Christ are subject to God’s judgment, thus need Christ and his Cross. Not always the first place child of God looks either, shame on him/her for that! Especially having once experienced life-changing blessing of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Specific circumstances left unsaid – purposefully to make it applicable universally. “In the Jewish tradition this is the psalm recited on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and for the early Church, it was considered one of a group of seven Psalms of Atonement.” (Penitential Psalms) Segal
Other psalms more doctrinally oriented, teaching from theological perspective; here primary source of knowledge is personal experience.
“This was Saint Augustine’s favorite psalm. Augustine had it inscribed on the wall next to his bed before he died in order to meditate on it better. He liked it because, as he said: intelligentia prima est ut te noris peccatorem (the beginning of knowledge is to know oneself to be a sinner).” — James Montgomery Boice, Psalms, 3 vols.
Scripture makes clear Psalm more than just “support group transcript”: Paul teaching on justification by faith used Abraham and David as examples. Quoted from v.1-2a, presents it as applying to more than David: read Rom. 4:6-9
“David also describes the blessedness of the man” (6)
“Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? (9)
Should serve to comfort all believers who read: not just David who could experience this blessedness. All who follow his good example can.
A. introspect v.1-4
looking from the mountain-top (1-2)
especially regarding relationships, sin is complicated; one transgression irreversibly changed four relationships – man to man, man to self, man to nature, man to God. Fallen man’s mind quickly became workshop devising more and more ways to rebel against God. Not surprising inspired authors would use multiple words / concepts to express truth about nature of sin and forgiveness.
transgression – pesha‛: breach of relationships, civil or religious, between two parties.
forgiven: lifted up, carried off
no longer a burden weighing down guilty party; being cut off from source of help makes life hard
has been lifted off by another – “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24)
sin – chăṭâ’âh: failure to measure up to the ethical, moral, and ritual standard laid down by God in his revealed law.
covered: concealed from view
list of failures, record of times one missed the mark serves as wall between two parties
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col. 2:13-14)
iniquity – ‛âvôn: infraction, crooked behavior, perversion
not imputed: credited to another
what should be charged to sinner’s account instead charged to that of willing substitute
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)
to the valley (3-4)
intimate, not causal, connection between soul and body
each can have strong influence on the other but one is not at the mercy of the other
many with sick souls have healthy bodies; others with sick decrepit bodies have souls in good health
physical and emotional distress
problem described – soul sick from unconfessed sin
more important than absence of confession: lack of repentance
observe sequence of thought: refusing to acknowledge / confess sin resulted in
a. premature aging – bones grew old
b. constant physical pain – groaning all day
c. lack of strength – vitality dried up
d. oppressive weight on his conscience – hand heavy
e. lifelessness – no interest in living
credited to God’s hand (rod) of correction – “Your hand was heavy”
B. prospect v.5
I said, “I will…” – even in depths of valley sinner has good prospect; unconverted need to be shown, converted need to be reminded of gracious promise: true repentance which leads to sincere confession will be met by full forgiveness.
repentance – change of mind, change of direction
v.3: kept silent; v.5: acknowledge sin
v.5: no longer covered iniquity; v.1: sin is covered, by God!
confession – say the same thing as God does, regardless of subject
not “telling on yourself” – God already knows; not informing God – God already knows
is an outward evidence of an inward change; very few even hardened pagans publicly say same about their sin as God does
repentant sinner, OTOH, acknowledge and accept God’s verdict, quickly and humbly and readily seek ->
lift up, carry away primary uses of nâsâh
two aspects particularly in view: guilt and penalty of sin; removal of both essential to blessedness
points again to Christ: sinner’s guilt assumed by Christ, sin’s penalty paid by Christ in place of sinner
“Now, I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation. Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back. He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending ; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a Sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the Cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the Sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said with a merry heart, “He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death”.” Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress
C. respect v.6-7
God will hear
pray while there’s opportunity
The pirate Charles Gibbs, who was executed at age 32 in New York, said, “When I robbed the first vessel, my conscience made a hell in my bosom; but after I sailed the black flag for many years, I could rob a vessel and murder every passenger on it and sleep soundly.”
not the common experience of “everyone who is godly” but… two things to avoid
presumption – expecting Heavenly Father to be always “on call”, ready to respond instantly regardless of how he is treated
desensitizing – repeated exposure to sounds/images/circumstances has effect; repeated exposure to/practice of sinful behavior reduces sensitivity
window of opportunity can close
in ultimate sense for unbeliever – when have finally rejected Spirit’s witness to truth
in circumstantial sense for believer – God may choose to leave in circumstances, may not deliver from hardship for teaching purposes
God will hide
seek while there’s time – as soon as there’s recognition of need, before “The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.” (Jonah 2:5)
when God himself is hiding place, preserver, one who surrounds: whatever reaches must pass through God first
D. retrospect v.8-11
let me summarize (8)
don’t be stubborn and unthinking (9)
don’t persist in wickedness (10a)
God will use means to bring about change – remember v.4a
trust in the Lord (10b)
be glad in the Lord (11)
Remember what David says: “You are my hiding place”. Unlike Adam and Eve or even David’s previous behavior, now hides in God and not from God. Only ONE who is able to preserve and deliver from trouble and distress: Christ, the one to whom sin is imputed. He is the one who made it possible for us to be reconciled to God – it is to HIM we must run, in HIM where we must hide. It is Christ and Christ alone who will keep us safe from the righteous justice of God, who will deliver us not only from our enemies but also from our sin and its just punishment.