The joy of forgiveness

I found a very interesting post that lists 35 reasons not to sin. One person commented that knowing reasons is not enough to keep him from wanting to sin. That, in a nutshell, expresses the entire human condition. But sinning brings only momentary pleasure. Then it causes all the pain that the list enumerates. God hates sin, but longs to forgive the sinner. Forgiveness received brings  joy.

David described the process in Psalm 32. Where Psalm 51 describes his repentance for his sin with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, Psalm 32 describes his process of receiving forgiveness and the joy it brought.

But first, notice three words in the first two verses. Although these verses exemplify the parallelism so characteristic of Hebrew poetry, the nouns mean distinctly different things.

Transgression breaks a relationship, as David’s adultery resulted in the murder of one of his most faithful mighty men. Iniquity breaks the law. Sin means missing the mark, or falling short, as in an archer’s arrow not making it all the way to the target. God expects us to maintain relationships and uphold the law, and we miss that mark.

David missed it spectacularly when he learned of Bathsheba’s pregnancy. He recalled Uriah from battle in the hope he would have sex with  his wife and therefore believe the child was  his own. When that failed, he sent Uriah back with a message that resulted in his death in battle.

Even before Nathan the prophet called him out, David felt an oppressive uneasiness in his spirit. He had also broken his relationship with God and could no longer experience the close fellowship he had enjoyed all his life.

When David confessed, God forgave. The heaviness lifted. The sin, and the burden of it, no longer served as a barrier to his relationship with God. Forgiveness restored it in two ways. God on his part offered the forgiveness. David humbly received it.

As long as God was an angry judge of David’s sin, David suffered many sorrows. Spiritually, he could not breathe, as a man drowning in a flood of negativity. He had no refuge, because the inescapable God pursued him.

His confession, in Psalm 51, contains the plea, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” He confessed. God forgave. He received the forgiveness. The heaviness lifted and joy returned.

His sin still had consequences. Having been such a poor role model, he had to suffer the misbehavior and eventually rebellion of his own sons, fleeing one of them as he had fled from Saul. But the flood could no longer drown him. He could once again seek refuge in God. In all his self-inflicted troubles, he lived in the joy of forgiveness.

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