Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Psalm 32 Blessings

Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!”  (Psalm 32, NIV)

The first two verses speak directly to the topic of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a two-sided coin.  We all need to forgive others for messes they’ve made, and let’s not forget, we all have the need for others to forgive messes we’ve made.  That’s because we all become offended, and we all become offenders.  On the one hand, it is a blessing to receive God’s forgiveness.  On the other hand, we often fail to receive this blessing because we fail to recognize, acknowledge, and deal with offense.   Please see my earlier articles on the blog site to see how to change from the inside out to reap the benefits of forgiveness.  
Verses 3 and 4 of Psalm 32 speak to our greatest enemy without using the word they describe.  The enemy is shame.  Shame thrives on hiddenness (silence).  Shame keeps us from forgiving and being forgiven.  Hiding and hiding behind our offenses literally causes our “bones to waste away.”  Recent research is proving the extreme damage our bitterness, resentment, and blame causes to our physical, mental, and emotional condition.  Worst of all, it kills our spirit.  To learn more about this I recommend two books by Dr. Timothy Jennings called The God-shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life and The God-shaped Heart: How Correctly Understanding God’s Love Transforms Us.  
Verse 5 shows the solution.  The remedy is vulnerability.  Psychiatrist Dr. Curt Thompson authored a book I highly recommend called The Soul of Shame: Retelling the Stories We Believe about Ourselves in which he has an entire chapter on vulnerability.  For a follower of Christ, addressing shame takes the form of confession and repentance.  When we confess (speak out our acknowlegement) our sins (offenses), God is faithful to forgive.  See 1 John 1:9 for a text written hundreds of years later in the Bible confirming this truth.  When we repent (turn around) from our sin, our guilt is washed away.  We are as slaves given freedom to live in a new way as forgiven.  Again, how this happens through life with Jesus is described by Paul, another writer in the Bible hundreds of years later (see Romans 6:16-23).  
Verses 6 amd 7 describe how to live out this new found freedom.  Instead of enslavement to shame, we are shielded from shame.  In as much as we make Christ Jesus our Refuge, the chains of shame are broken.  Instead of relying on self to protect from exposure, we place our trust in Christ who has already born the guilt of shame for us.  Jesus conquored shame, and our safe place is hiding with him instead of trying to hide with shame. Whatever and whenever the source of shame in our lives, it is not too great to be overcome by the salvation of Jesus.  
Verses 8, 9, and 10 address our stubbornness and rebellion.  Vulnerability begins with self-honesty, and relates closely with teachability.  Openness to the need for inner life change (the very core of our beliefs), allows God to shine light on areas we have deceived ourselves and kept hidden from the truth.   Replacing our false beliefs with truth paves the path to freedom.   It’s not easy for us to give up our old patterns of thinking and feeling, but making choices to cooperate with Gods ways (instead of demanding our own way), literally grooves new pathways in our brain so we can function as originally designed before the human race was corrupted by sin.  For more on how this works, see the book Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health by Dr. Caroline Leaf.  
Verse 11 of Psalm 32 is the finale.  Praising God and choosing to be grateful for who God is and what he has done on our behalf, gives us true cause for joy.  Re-orienting our focus from self to God always guarantees good results.  Glorifying God is our true purpose for being.  We will always find meaning and satisfaction in turning our own hearts towards God, and helping others do the same.  
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews in the Bible is a summary of many ordinary people who followed God and give us great examples of how God expresses his love for the human race.  Hebrews says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV).   Perfecting our faith is a process of releasing more and more of our demands (including the demand to understand) so that our belief and trust in God can grow.  Note here how joy and shame are contrasted.  Shame being conquered through Jesus is cause for great joy!  
  Jesus has accomplished forgiveness.  When we forgive, we cooperate with the Refuge God has provided.  By surrendering our shame for the shield of Refuge, the Father is glorified and our fellowship is joy-filled.   

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry