Psalm 32 (NET) reads:
By David; a well-written song.
How happy is the one whose rebellious acts are forgiven,
whose sin is pardoned!
2 How happy is the one whose wrongdoing the LORD does not punish,
in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 When I refused to confess my sin,
my whole body wasted away,
while I groaned in pain all day long.
4 For day and night you tormented me;
you tried to destroy me in the intense heat of summer. (Selah)
5 Then I confessed my sin;
I no longer covered up my wrongdoing.
I said, "I will confess my rebellious acts to the LORD."
And then you forgave my sins. (Selah)
6 For this reason every one of your faithful followers should pray to you
while there is a window of opportunity.
Certainly when the surging water rises,
it will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
you protect me from distress.
You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance. (Selah)
8 I will instruct and teach you about how you should live.
I will advise you as I look you in the eye.
9 Do not be like a stupid horse or mule,
which will not obey you
unless they are controlled by a bridle and bit.
10 An evil person suffers much pain,
but the LORD's faithfulness overwhelms the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be happy, you who are godly!
Shout for joy, all you who are morally upright!
Psalm 32 celebrates the happiness that comes to those whose sins have been forgiven. Verse 4 is chilling, "For day and night you tormented me; you tried to destroy me in the intense heat of summer." When was the last time you prayed something like that? Once again I am struck by David's view of YHWH's involvement in the everyday events of his life. If things weren't going well, it was because YHWH was tormenting him.
This thought carries over in vv. 9–10, " Do not be like a stupid horse or mule, which will not obey you unless they are controlled by a bridle and bit. An evil person suffers much pain, but the LORD's faithfulness overwhelms the one who trusts in him." David thought that sinful behavior would lead to pain.
I love the words of verse 3, "When I refused to confess my sin, my whole body wasted away, while I groaned in pain all day long." What a great description of the effect that secrets have on us.
For the last six months I have been preparing a class for my church called The Spiritual Life. I have wrestled with the Scriptures’ teaching on spirituality--what it is and how we can be "spiritual." I have tried to balance two things in the class--what I believe the Scriptures teach about spirituality and what has worked in my own spiritual life. I can't say which is more important. I think the Scriptures should interpret our experiences, but I also think that our experiences should color the way we read the Scriptures.
One of the things that I keep coming back to in the spiritual life is confession. When I ask myself how people really change, I have to say: (1) they get serious about changing (i.e. they "repent"), and (2) they find accountability (i.e. someone to whom they can confess). This is how I change. This is how I have seen others change. This is (not coincidentally) what I think the Scriptures teach about change.
American Protestants fear confession. We are private and we don't want to come across as too Roman Catholic. We think, "My sins are between me and Jesus. I don't need a priest." Really? How well does that work? In my experience, it doesn't. If I don't have accountability, I don't change. I continue to experience Psalm 32:3–4.
"Father I thank You for Your grace. I thank You for Your faithfulness to Your people and Your willingness to forgive. We confess that we fall miserably short of the life to which You have called us. Father, I thank you for the Christian community. I thank you for my brothers and sisters on the journey and the support that they lend me. I pray that You would make me more authentic, that I would understand true shame but not be ashamed. I pray that my failures would drive me closer to You and not farther away. I pray that You would renew in me a longing for the redemption that You have started in me. Amen."
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