ďYou Are My Hiding PlaceĒ†††††††††† Psalm 32††††††††††† February 13, 2011

 

SI:Please open your Bibles to Psalm 32

This winter weíre studying a number of famous Psalms.

 

Youíll notice when I read that there are two musical terms.

This is a ďmaskilĒ of David.Also, in the text you will see the word ďSelahĒ 3 times.

†† We donít know what those mean.They were musical terms.

 

But they us the Psalms were sung by the Old Testament church.

†† David wrote about his own, personal confession and forgiveness.

But he wrote it to be sung.

†† So that it would go in deep, and that Godís people

†† would make these experiences their own.

 

Thatís what I hope happens as we read and study this Psalm.


 

INTRO:Iím going to start this morning with a history quiz.

†† Just one question, so itís pass or fail.

†† You can gloat and brag at lunch today, or sit there quietly humiliated.

 

What event in 1517 is considered the beginning of the Protestant Reformation?

Iíll give you some clues.

†† It involved a church door.A church in Germany.

†† And it involved a monk.

†† And that monk nailing something to the door of that church.

 

The answer is when Martin Luther, a Catholic priest and monk

†† nailed a document to the church door in Whittenburg, Germany protesting

†† the sale of indulgences.

Indulgences were documents blessed by the pope that forgave your sins

†† or the sins of people you bought them for, even dead people,

†† and knocked time off your punishment in purgatory.

 

Luther had a list of 95 points about the biblical view of repentance, confession,

†† and forgiveness that he thought the church had forgotten.

This list became known as Lutherís 95 Theses and sparked Reformation.

 

Let me read you the very first thesis.

ďOur Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.Ē

On the surface this looks a little bleak!

†† Luther seems to be saying Christians will never be making much progress.

 

But that wasnít Lutherís point at all.

He was saying that repentance is the way you make progress in the Christian life.

†† In fact, continual, daily repentance is the best sign you re growing deeply

†† and steadily into the character of Jesus Christ.

 

Repentance is a discipline, or you might say, a competency in the Christian life.

†† That is clear in Psalm 32.

Because David wrote this Psalm not just about his own experience of sin and

†† forgiveness, but to teach about repentance and confession.

So that Godís people would grow in it.

 

There are seven Psalms that deal with repentance or confession of sin:

†† 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143

They have been called the Penitential Psalms.

†† The most famous are Psalms 32 and 51óboth written by David.

 

David wrote Psalm 51 shortly the prophet Nathan confronted him

†† about his adultery with Bathsheba.Itís a very raw Psalm.Lots of deep emotions.

†† He pleads with the Lord to forgive him.Not take the Holy Spirit from him.

†† To restore his joy.

David made a promise in Psalm 51 that if God forgave him, and restored his joy,

†† he would teach people about Godís forgiveness.

 

Many Bible scholars think that Psalm 32 is Davidís fulfillment of that promise.

†† And that makes total sense.

The tone of Psalm 32 is different from Psalm 51.Itís not as raw and immediate.

†† Instead, David is reflecting on his experiences and on the blessings

†† of confession, repentance, and forgiveness.

 

So confession of your sins is commanded by God.

†† It enhances your understanding of who you are in Christ.

†† Itís essential for growing as a Christian.

†† It is a discipline and practice of the Christian life that is learned and developed.

 

And itís extremely practical.

†† When you know youíve screwed up, what do you do?

†† When youíve fallen hard, how do you get back up?

And how do you get back up in such a way that you arenít crippled

†† by your failure, but are actually better?

 

Hereís how weíre going to look at this Psalm.

1.The blessing of Godís forgiveness

2.The basis of Godís forgiveness

3.The practice of your repentance

 

Before I go any farther, need to give credit where credit is due.

A wonderful sermon on this Psalm by Dr. Timothy Keller that was very helpful.


 

MP#1The blessing of Godís forgiveness

David starts his Psalm with these words:

†† Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

ďBlessedĒ is a great biblical word, both in Old and New Testament.

†† It means to be a person who is favored, fulfilled, joyful and happy.

David starts his Psalm of confession by asserting that people whose transgressions

†† are forgiven have the most blessed and fulfilled lives.

What exactly is this blessedness?Why is it so wonderful to be forgiven?

†† Thatís comes into sharper focus when David says not only are your blessed

†† when your transgressions are forgiven, but when your sin is covered.

 

This idea of covering, and your need for covering, is at the heart of the Bible.

†† Itís introduced in Genesis 3 right after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

It says that when they ate it their eyes were opened and they saw they were naked.

†† And what did they do next?They sewed together fig leaves to cover themselves.

What were they covering up?Was it just their physical nakedness?

†† Of course you know it was much more than that.

†† It was an attempt to cover their sense of guilt and exposure before God.

†† They felt eyes on them.They felt guilty and judged.So they had to cover up.

And ever since the Fall, that has been the way we operate.

†† In big and little ways, we try to cover up our weaknesses, failures, and sins.

 

I remember once years ago as a boy going through an old box of papers and I found

†† a report card of my motherís from 10th grade.Hattisburg, Mississippi.

I glanced at it and saw it was all Aís and Bís.

†† But then I looked at it more carefully, and saw that the Aís were all flat on top.

†† And the Bís looked like teacher had traced over them several times with her pen.

And I realized these were Fís that had been turned into flat top Aís or dark Bís.

†† Of course I waved it triumphantly in her face and she laughed.

†† But who was she covering up for?Her parents?Her classmates?

 

Point is that this is a universal human experience.

†† We want to cover ourselves.Put up a front.

†† Control how people see us and what they see.

Everybody experiences this, even secular people.

†† Why is it so hard to take criticism?Why are you crushed or fly off handle?

†† Why do you crave approval of certain people?

Deep down somethingís wrong.Bible says itís sin and guilt.

†† Itís the eyes of God and our desperate attempt to sew fig leaves together.

Now think for a minute how wonderful it would be to be a person covered by God.

†† Think what incredible peace and rest that would bring.

There would be no need to defend yourself.No need to put up a front.

†† No need to worry about what other people say about you.

†† No need to worry about what you think about yourself.

Because the only person who really matters has covered you.

 

There is no more beautiful story of this than Luke 7 which we read earlier.

Simon the Pharisee was a respectable man who was an expert at covering.

†† He covered himself with his careful church attendance, with his morality,

†† with is good manners, with his knowledge of the Bible.

 

And then there was this woman who had led a sinful life.

†† You can easily imagine, at least I can, how taken aback Simon was at her actions.

†† How unseemly it was for Jesus to allow this woman to touch him.

†† How overly emotional this was, with all her weeping and kissing.

Because Simon would never in a million years exposed himself like that.

 

But who was the most blessed?Who was the most free and happy and fulfilled.

Look at this woman.She didnít have to cover herself.

†† She didnít have to worry what other people thought, even important people.

†† She didnít have to worry any more about her own moral failures and reputation.

She was free to open herself before God and people without shame and love them.

 

Jesus said to Simon, let me explain this to you:

†† The one who is forgiven little loves little.

But the most loving people, the most compassionateó

†† the most blessed, happy, fulfilled people are those who have been most forgiven.

 

There are people who feel too good about themselves to be deeply forgiven.

†† They would be quick to say they arenít perfect.

Simon the Pharisee would have quickly admitted he was a sinner.

†† But he didnít feel the sense of any great sins.

†† He didnít weep over who he was and what he had done.

He had done such a good job covering up his true nature that he saw no need.

†† So he had no great sense of being forgiven.

†† And no great compassion, fulfillment, and blessedness.

And then there are those people who know they need it, and theyíve got it.

 

David is saying, and Jesus is saying, that if you know you need forgiveness,

†† and you know youíve got it, then you can be the happiest person in the world.

Because you know that not only are your transgressions taken away,

†† your sin is covered.You can stand open before God and people.

 

What sins are you covering?What sins have you covered for years?

Maybe thatís not your problem.

†† Maybe like Simon, you donít even feel like you need to repent.

 

The blessed life, the fulfilled and open and loving life is to be forgiven

†† and to know and experience that forgiveness.

And the pathway to forgiveness is through repentance and confession.

 

But before we get there, we need to consider . . .


 

MP#2The basis of Godís forgiveness

David says:I confessed and he forgave.

†† Not, God thought about it and eventually forgave.But forgave immediately.

†† How can God do that?The answer in verse 2.

ďBlessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity.Ē

 

God forgives because he does not count your sins against you.

Imagine getting an F on a test.And the teacher walks in and says, Iím not going

†† to count the test you took yesterday on your final grade.

Thatís exactly what David said:When I confessed, God forgave.

†† He doesnít count it against me.It has nothing to do with my final grade.

But how does that work?How does God just not count it against me?

 

All this comes into sharper focus in verse 7 where David says:

†† ďYou are my hiding place.You surround me with shouts of deliverance.Ē

Everybody needs to be covered, as weíve already seen.

†† David knew that God himself would somehow provide the covering.

†† That as a sinner he would hide in God.

 

And that presents us with the deepest mystery of all.

How can you hide in God when your big problem is you need to hide from him?

†† How can you hide from God in God?

†† How can God himself be the one who covers me?

 

The answer is the cross of Jesus Christ.

Crucifixion was not only a painful death, it was a shameful death.

†† The condemned man was stripped of his clothing, his arms spread and nailed.

†† So that he could not even make the most simple motion to cover himself.

You didnít die fast, you died slow.

†† You didnít die privately, you died publically.

†† You were totally exposed and people looked on you and mocked you.

 

Why did Jesus do it?He was stripped so that you could be clothed.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says:

†† ďGod made him who had no sin to be sin for us,

†† so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.Ē

God counted Jesus as a sinner, so that he didnít have to count you as a sinner.

†† On the cross he gave Jesus a status he didnít deserve,

†† so he could give you a status you donít deserve.Ē

When you confess your sins and say:Father, accept me for what Jesus has done,

†† then you are permanently forgiven.Your sins are never counted against you.

ďThere is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Ē

†† So the secret of confession, the most fundamental step, is to know and believe

†† in the cross of Jesus Christ and find your hiding place in him.

 

What happens when you confess but you canít get over your guilt?

†† The way people sometimes put it is:I know God has forgiven me.

†† I even know the person I wronged has forgiven me.But I canít forgive myself.

Why canít you get over your guilt?Why donít you feel forgiven?

†† The problem is not that you canít forgive yourself.Thatís not it.

†† The problem is that you are hiding in something besides Jesus.

 

Counselor Robert Jones, tells of a Christian woman who was tormented by guilt

†† over an abortion she had years before she had become a Christian.

†† Confessed to Lord.Knew God had forgiven her.Still self-accusation, guilt.

She said:I canít forgive myself.He said:Hold on, letís talk about this.

†† Why did you get the abortion in the first place?

 

She had gotten abortion because her career was her hiding place.

†† Pregnant at just the wrong time, would have ruined career.

But as the years had passed, career had failed to give her the happiness it promised,

†† she replaced it with another hiding place, marriage and children.

Became convinced she had to have this make her life worth living.

†† For various reasons, this abortion had ruined those chances.

And so she was in this spiral of guilt and regret that was crushing her.

†† She thought, Iíll never be free of guilt because I just canít forgive myself.

 

But the abortion was not the problem, it was her idolatry.

†† She tried to cover self with career success and then later with domestic success.

Solution was not trying to forgive herself for the abortionó

†† it was repenting of her idols and hiding in Jesus.

When able to say to JesusóForgive me.Enable me to find what looking for in you,

†† Lord began to deal with her feelings of guilt and self-accusation, resentment.

 

You will never overcome your guilt until you change your hiding place.

Thatís the real secretóif you canít overcome your guiltó

†† confess that to God and repent.Not of that bad thing you did.Thatís behind you.

But repent of not hiding and resting in Christ.

If you learn how to confess way, then confession will not be a periodic

†† traumatic experience when you do bad things.

It will become something you do every day with joy.

†† When you know you are accepted by Christ and he ahs covered you,

†† and your identity is not in being a virtuous person, but in him.

Then you can come to him openly.Come to him at times with tears.

†† And admit youíve done wrong, and be assured once again of his forgiveness.

 

And the more accepted you know you are in him,

†† the easier it will become to see and admit your sins.


 

MP#3The practice of your repentance

If forgiveness is the greatest blessing and God gives it freely through Jesus Christ,

†† then you should want to get it more than anything.How do you do it?

Now Iím going to be very practical hereó

†† two inward practices, two outward practices, two tests to see how you are doing.

 

First, the inward:

1.Resist self-pity.

Sometimes people confess and confess but there is no change and no freedom.

†† Thatís because the pain they feel for what they have done is all self-pity.

†† Itís not a true sense of guilt and sorrow for the sin itself.

 

David reflects on this when he says donít be like a horse or mule.

†† If youíre riding a horse or mule and you want to go straight

†† but it wants to turn left, then you kick it and jerk the bridle.

Then in a few minutes it tries again, so you kick it and jerk the bridle again.

†† You keep doing this until it gets message and it doesnít try to go left any more.

But the reason it changes is not because it is sorry it disobeyed its master.

†† It quits trying to go left because it doesnít want to get hurt any more.

 

There is a kind of confession like that.

The real-life consequences of your sin come crashing down and you say:

†† O Lord, Iím so sorry.I promise if you forgive me Iíll never do it again.

†† But itís not because of sorrow for your sin, itís self-pity for your pain.

†† Hereís the positive side:

 

2.Grieve over your sin.

In verse 5, David says after he confessed, the Lord forgave the iniquity of his sin.

What does that mean?The iniquity of his sin?It sounds redundant.

†† But what David is saying is very important.

†† He saying that he saw and confessed the sinfulness of his sin.

In other words, the thing that grieved him, the thing that caused him the most pain,

†† was realizing how utterly sinful and wicked this thing was that he had done.

His pain wasnít mostly about the consequences and pain it caused him,

†† but about the way this had grieved the heart of God.

 

Do you see the iniquity of your sin?

In your heart, do you know youíve grieved your heavenly Father?

†† Is that what pains you the most, or is it self-pity for the consequences?

Now the outward:

1.Do not excuse, rationalize, blame the other person, or accuse him.

David didnít blame God, and he didnít blame Bathsheba either.

†† Iíve always wondered what she was doing bathing out there in broad daylight

†† where she knew the king would see her.Maybe she wanted him to see her.

†† She certainly didnít put up any resistance when he sent for her.

But when you confess, you canít blame other people, even if they did play a role.

 

What if you honestly think it was 80% them and 20% you?

†† Admit your 20% and shut up about the other person.Thatís not your job.

If you want the blessedness of forgiveness, you have to confess rightly.

†† And that means not turning the blame on God or other people.

 

2.Name the sin and take full responsibility for it.

I remember once dealing with a father who had wronged his child and all he would

†† say was:ďIím sorry for what happened.Ē

Like he was just going through life, minding his own business, this thing happened

†† that somehow involved him and somehow his child was hurt by it.

 

ďIím sorry for hurting youĒ is not enough either.Thatís not a confession.

†† If itís genuine and heart-felt thatís great.

†† But real confession that leads to forgiveness has to be much more specific.

Say to God, say to the other person:I wronged you.

†† And then name the wrong.

†† I lied to you.I gossiped about you.I treated you with contempt.

†† I didnít care about your feelings, I just wanted my own way.

I know I caused you pain and that grieves me now.Please forgive me.

 

Now the tests:

1.Are you a safe person to confess to.

†† We all by nature like to expose other people.Itís a way of covering ourselves.

†† But when you regularly open yourself to the Lord and other people through

†† true repentance it changes you, it softens you.People sense that.

 

Let me ask you:Who would you rather go to and share your struggles?

†† Simon the Pharisee or the sinful woman who anointed Jesusí feet?

You know that if you went to her, and said, help me with this.Pray for me.

†† That she would be safe.Why?Because she was a repentant person

who knew Christís forgiveness and that made her safe.

Parents, will your children come to you if they are struggling with temptation

†† and sin, or if theyíve fallen into something ugly, or will they hide from you?

To a large degree the answer to that will be whether you are a repenting person.

†† If they have seen and heard you repent of your sins and rejoice in the cross.

 

2.Are you a safe person to criticize?

Do you have enough joy and confidence in Christ to hear criticism and

†† not fall apart or go on the attack?

There are some Christians you canít criticize.

†† They either blow up and the claws come out, or they melt down into a puddle,

†† and you have to sayójust forget it.

 

But when you are a person who repents, and you know the iniquity of your sin,

†† and you have learned to be honest with God and other people, you change.

And criticism doesnít devastate you and it doesnít infuriate you.

†† Instead, it becomes one more opportunity to grow and maybe,

†† if the criticism is valid, to confess and experience more deeply

†† the love of Christ.

 

To quote a famous German monk:

ďOur Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.Ē

 

King David would certainly agree.

†† The blessed life is the repentant forgiven life.

†† Do that every day and make Jesus Christ your hiding place.