"How Do You Get There?" Pastor Gus Lohrum
How Do You Get There? Psalm 32 March 31, 2019
Have you ever known someone you admire, and you either ask them directly or you silently wonder to yourself, how did they get there? How did they get to the point of accomplishment, success and effectiveness as coach, skill in some craft, capability as a parent or leading an organization or company?
I think Psalm 32 warrants that type of question of admiration because it offers a promise and picture about happiness and peace. It offers this promise and as we go through the rest of the psalm, we learn the promise is from someone who knew by first-hand experience. Many would say this is psalm based on the fall of King David and his actions of adultery and murder to cover up his relationship with Bathsheba.
I would think a psalm like this would intrigue us when we continue to have news stories that remind us people of various ages and life situations, especially the young are under more stress and rates of mental illness, especially depression is on the rise; even though our access to information, quality of life, recreation and entertainment is accelerating.
The Goal: vs. 1-2
Verses 1-2 contains the description of the desirable spiritual condition.
This passage describes how the wrongful actions, sin and offense against God has been repaired. The gap of separation between the person and God has been bridged. • God no longer imputes or holds the wrongs of the person out like a debt to be paid.
• The psalmist is the one who no longer needed to deny their sin, deceive his self, others or God about flaws, failures and weaknesses. • There is no hiding of secrets. The condition here for the person writing this psalm is the opposite of Adam and Eve hiding in the garden after they had disobeyed God. • The condition of the psalmist is different than the pattern of famous people we see in the news who at first totally deny any wrong doing; but then eventually the evidence comes out and only then do they confess.
So, verses 1-2 hold up the spiritual goal/condition to strive for in our relationship with God.
• The description is reality – we fall short; but in our falling short there is hope. • The description reflects the graciousness of God that is willing to forgive. God is like the one who is owed a great financial debt but releases the person from repaying. • The description has the feeling like that great weight of pressure that has been lifted from our minds and we can simply exhale, relax and be at peace.
The condition is not perfection by the person; but wholeness because God has restored and repaired the soul.
Notice the word “happy” appears twice in this psalm and it is similar to what we hear in the Beattitudes given by Jesus. Happy means an inner peace and joy despite what is going on outside of us.
You may be here this morning and believe and know you have what the psalmist is describing. Great.
Or you may be going through a season where your life is lacking peace of heart or mind. It would be the honest thing to admit even as Christians we can go through seasons when peace of mind is lacking.
The Cost: Vs. 3-4
The next few verses have the psalmist telling us it was not always like this, that in fact the spiritual condition was just the opposite.
Listen to verses 3-4.
The psalmist speaks of a time of his body “wasting away.” What do think a phrase like this means in the Hebrew in which this psalm was originally written?
The words “Wasting away” are words of deep anguish. This isn’t a person having a bad hair day, or someone who just finish cleaning and detailing their car only to have the neighbor’s dog wander in your driveway and mark your tires.
The psalmist said he was groaning all day long.
I have been in ministry long enough to tell you I have spent my share of time at the bed-side of those especially afflicted with diseases such as cancer and have heard the deep expression of pain from their disease and this is that type of deep groaning; but this comes from where they suffer spiritually.
All of this is happening says the psalmist because “I kept silent…for day and night your hand was heavy on me.” Vs.3-4
The image of the hand is meaning the presence of the holiness/truth of God was constantly there. It is the righteousness of God that will
not dimmer it’s light of purity and goodness that presses on the spirit of the psalmist. When he states that “night and day the hand was heavy on me; and his strength was dried up” that means as much as the love of God knows no limits; neither does the holiness and purity of God simply wink or do a shoulder shrug of indifference at our sin at our ways that defy God’s will and goodness.
The nature of God is eternal. The love of God is endless; but so also is the holiness, purity and truth of God.
The psalmist knows there is no waiting for the glow of God’s purity to burnout so wrongfulness of human actions will be more acceptable.
Have you ever been to the point where you could no longer resist God with self-deception, explanation, rationalization, justification of your mindset and actions that were not true and right?
I want to be careful with what I am about to say because I do not want to force a certain way of experiencing God on anyone. Perhaps you have lived a more explementary life then some of us? Perhaps you have never seemed to wander as far as some of us have wandered from God.
But there can be a concern that perhaps some lack a connection with God because there is an absence of experience, a moment similar to the psalmist of the presence of God pressing us to see personally the darkness of our sin and its incompatibility with the nature of God.
The psalmist had to hit a moment of his life when the hand of God, the presence of God was pressing on his heart, his mind to let him know there was no justifying and letting pass any longer whatever he was doing or however he was living. The heavy hand of God was on him to bring change for the better; not more despair; but change to live more in the image of who God is.
A moment like this is a part of God’s grace at work, like disking of fields right now long before we see the plants and produce. I hope in your own way if you have experienced those moments?
The Key of Confession: vs.5-7
When the psalmist had enough of the pressing in on his soul by God look what he says next.
The psalmist responded with confession/admission to God of his sin. He acknowledged his ways that were displeasing to God and robbing him of life. We need to remember that anything the psalmist confessed to God was not a surprise to God. The reason why confession is so transformational for the soul is because we stop living by deception which God will not support. Confession begins to help us start living by the truth and what is reality. Pastor John Piper states that confession of sin is the beginning of our rejecting of sin/disobedience/defiance of what is inappropriate and evil.
We all heard the adage that admission is half the battle for someone with an addiction? Why because admission/confession begins to say goodbye to denial and deception; and hello to the reality that others are seeing about us that until now we have not seen or been willing to see.
Illustration: Pastor Matt Chandler tells of a neurologist named David Eagleman. Eagleman claims that stress hormones rise in the blood stream when we live a duplicitous/two-face lifestyle. The cost of sin will happen in many ways including the impact on the body. Chandler goes onto say, “Darkness of sin is only stopped by dragging it into the light of God’s truth and holiness.”
Confession was the way for the psalmist to drag his sin, what had become corrupted in him out into the light, the truth about himself; not really for God to see; but for the psalmist to see and face.
Process • I want to add it took some time for a moment like this that happen for the psalmist. • A moment like this took some quality alone time with God. • I don’t believe this happens while we are driving to work. It might begin there but it probably causes people to pull over and finish the conversation on the side of a road. • I doubt this type of raw intense transparency can happen just as our heads hit the pillow at night and we fall fast asleep. • It might need to happen as we confess to God in the presence of others.
No one hit wonder or fix
Listen to how the psalmist wraps up his experience in verses 8-11.
The need for teaching and instruction is on-going. Verse 8 is God speaks saying “I will” its future-tense – on-going need. The need to be watchful and continue surrendering to God instead of being prideful and stubborn is constant. God promises his steadfast love will be known to those who forgiven, not perfect; but yield to him like a horse yields to the reins of his master.
The only way we can have what the psalmist has is by a lifestyle of seeking to turn our lives to him and find real goodness.
One person made this point that sums up was is so great about a psalm like this. The one who writes this psalm, and could have been King
David, goes from hiding from God to finding that God is their hiding place. They go from avoiding God to knowing they constantly need to turn to him. They move from their conscious being tormented by truth to their lives hungry for a word from God. They go from fear of even facing the truth about themselves to knowing the greatest hope and peace they have is they can turn to God and tell him anything, no secrets, no shame and God will renew their strength. How do you get there? Psalm 32 shows us the way.