Oh, what joy for those
whose disobedience is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Many sorrows come to the wicked,
but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure! (Psalm 32, NLT)
This psalm is categorized as a penitential psalm, and rightly so. The language does not leave any doubt about the seriousness or weight of unconfessed sin. The writer describes how sin caused his body to waste away, his strength to melt, and his spirit to groan in pain both day and night. It’s not a pretty picture. And the structure reinforces it. We are instructed to pause, to take an interlude, to let the images sink in.
The interlude is important because we really can’t understand the joy of forgiveness and restoration without that bleak imagery. The contrast is meant to be striking — death to life, indeed! Is it any wonder that we, the forgiven, are instructed to rejoice in the Lord, to sing songs of victory, and to shout for joy? Even in the penitential season of Lent, we can rejoice in the Lord’s unfailing love.
This psalm includes three interludes — times to slow down and think about what has just been said. Let the interludes guide your prayers today. Take the time to think through the three “movements” of the psalm — what your life was like before you were forgiven, the freedom of confession and forgiveness, and how the Lord is guiding you along just the right path for your life. Sing a song of victory today!