Posted by: arieliondotcom | August 29, 2013

Pondering Peace (Psalm 32)

Pondering Peace (Psalm 32)

Psalm 32 starts with a mystery word, “maskil.” It starts off with the description of being a maskil written bya David but no one is sure what Maskil means. Jewish scholars thought it meant “an interpretation”, but from what and to what? And by whom? Was David translating someone else’s song or had he heard or spoken it in what we call “tongues”, spoken in a foreign language the speaker doesn’t know? Prophets were known to do that from time to time. We don’t know. Others say it means “a contemplation”, something to be studied quietly, thought about, pondered. And whether that was meant or not it fits the subject of the psalm. The subject is relaxing and thinking about how good you have it. “Stopping and smelling the roses”, so to speak. But this isn’t about physical safety. David is writing about sitting in wonder at the realization that he is forgiven by GOD and saved. This psalm is a spiritual sigh of relief.

It’s short and sweet. David starts off getting right to the point. How wonderful it is to be forgiven by GOD and know it! How wonderful it is to have a clear conscience! He had run around sinning but it only made him feel worse. And even when sin turned out to be a burden and he stopped he kept suffering waiting for GOD to punish him. Sinners will admit it if they’re smart that the boomerang will hit them eventually. They’ll get caught or GOD will get them, now or after death. And Christians who catch themselves slipping back into sin know, like the child with dirty hands from touching what they shouldn’t that parental punishment is coming. All their denials and shouts of “NO!” won’t wash the stain away or drown out their guilt.

Guilt is like the hot sun sucking the life out of you. You can’t enjoy anything after a while. All day and night it bothers you, David says.

Then comes the other mystery word of the psalms, “Selah.” As we’ve seen before it probably means “pause.” And that’s appropriate because David then “switches gears.” He contrasts the misery of guilt with the pleasure of confessing his sin to GOD. He confessed and received the joy of knowing he was forgiven by GOD. He had that tremendous sense of relief.

Then another pause before “switching gears” again to the security of those who confess their need of forgiveness to GOD. It’s like being about to be drowned in a flood but suddenly rescued when we cry for help. And all of this peace is now David’s. His soul is sheltered and safe no matter what happens to him now.

And there’s another pause as David’s poem switches to GOD speaking to him. GOD reassures David that if he’ll stop being “stubborn as a mule” and listen, GOD will guide him away from sin. Horses and mules may fight us even when we’re trying to help them. So we need to pull them along. Discipline for sin is GOD’s bridle to get us back on the right track. But He’d rather we just listen to Him and avoid trouble to begin with. David finishes by saying wicked people who refuse to confess eventually won’t feel the bridle anymore and will just keep stumbling into more trouble, in the here and hereafter. But if we run to GOD with our guilt as soon as we feel it, He will have mercy and forgive us. We’ll be free to enjoy what’s good rather than suffering from, or waiting for the aftermath of, our sin. A clean conscience takes the weight off and makes us sing with joy.

Forgiveness in David’s time usually required public sacrifices and guilt offerings by the high priest. Jewish scholars say this psalm is about David’s sin with Bathsheba. Once he confessed his sin before GOD (and Nathan the prophet) he felt relief. But there would still be years of consequences, including dead children.

Today we have JESUS as our Great High Priest. His sacrifice of Himself provides us with the forgiveness we need when we confess our need of forgiveness and ask for His Guidance. We may need to confess our sins to others we’ve harmed and to whom we’re responsible. But once we’ve confessed to Christ we can face any consequences with Him. Then, whatever happens in this life, we can enter eternity with a song.

May we ponder peace today. May we sigh in satisfaction at salvation and praise GOD for His guidance to dump the guilt, make better decisions and move forward with Christ.

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