The Psalms are an anatomy of the soul fully articulating every facet of our hearts. The continual challenge for humanity has been to put words on the struggles and praises of the heart. The way we faithfully do this still today is through music. In some mysterious way we are pre-designed to be able to deal with our deepest minutiae through singing songs. There is a vulnerability that happens as we open ourselves up to the song. Still today a wonder that remains is that individuals who struggle with stuttering are able to sing perfectly with no slip of tongue! There is something about a song that opens up the inner door and helps that which is on the inside flow outward seamlessly.
Psalm 32 is a song of thanksgiving. There is a three-part structure here. First is the proclamation, “Happy are those… whose sin is covered.” Here four similar words are used, transgression, sin, iniquity, also deceit give a well-rounded image to begin the Psalm’s great contrast of the depths of sin and heights of forgiveness.
The second piece is the account, typically here we learn more what the crisis was and how God came and delivered. This begins in verse 3 with “When I kept silence.” What follows are these images of our bodies wasting away, groaning, the heavy hand of God, and the heat of summer drying our strength up. I really appreciate this imagery the psalmist gives because on a physical level we’ve all been there. For myself as someone who for years has worked bi-vocationally, mostly all my work happens outside, regardless of the weather. We understand the heaviness of summer… the wasting away of the body out in the heat! Notice the heaviness and weight attributed to carrying our sin around. What is heavier than our sin and the guilt therein? What can you compare the soul-weight of wrongdoing? Who hasn’t experienced such heaviness upon their conscious at some point in their life that it became absolutely debilitating? Is there anything more heavy than carrying your own sin? The knowledge of the wrongdoing? The heavy burden of your folly? The toil of sin eventually affects your very physical appearance, your physical and emotional health, it severs your relationships and even sends you soaring into the deepest corners of depression. There is little doubt why willfully staying in your sin eventually finds you in hell. Your very body wastes away under the dry heat of living outside the flow of creation and the will of God.
In contrast if you’ve ever acknowledged your error, confessed your transgression, and received forgiveness… you are light as a feather. It’s no coincidence the psalmist begins by saying “Happy are those…” and ends the Psalm with “Rejoice!” We see in the second piece here how the LORD forgives the guilt of sin and how light this makes us!
In verse 7 we get these now beautiful images of how God is a refuge. You are a hiding place, you preserve, you surround… deliverance! Our hearts cry out with the song being sung here, this isn’t just about debt forgiveness, but even more that our God is trustworthy and safe!
The lines particularly get colored in here as we think upon the Gospel reading of the prodigal son parable. The young child who committed the worst sin against his father. He knew the depth of the wrong he was committing yet still saw it through. Finally, the son hits bottom opening his eyes to see the hell he is in. He returns to his father and not only finds complete forgiveness but a place of safety! This parable makes for a great parallel to the Psalm.
The Psalm interestingly shifts in verse 8. Now we are getting words presumably from God (or the Father, if you will!) “I will instruct you… teach you…counsel you…” Essentially let’s pick back up where we left off! Let’s get back to it! Come learn my ways! Come back to me, I am safe, I will lead you, and show you green pastures.In running away, we are compared to a horse or mule whose temper must be curbed! Yet, we can trust in the Lord who is on our side, with us, in our corner, waiting on us to turn around. Repentance is great, but let’s move forward!
The Psalm concludes with that beautiful Hebrew word hesed. Essentially “many are the torments of the wicked” but God’s covenant faithfulness surrounds those who trust in Him! The whole Psalm makes one wonder, if we could really understand and receive the covenant faithfulness of God in our lives would we spend so much wasted time running into hell and back?
 Luke 15