Give me a teachable heart, Lord
When I read the psalms, I am always taken back to when I started my walk with Jesus. The psalms were my 'go to' Bible reading. Psalm 32 was important then and just as much now. It doesn't matter how many times I read it, I'm amazed that David could write something so inspired by the Holy Spirit that it is totally timeless.
When I came to understand the Gospel one day back in 1993, the total relief of coming to know the truth about Jesus dying on the cross to take my sin and his resurrection to give me new life free from my past was astonishing. Here was the most gracious gift of God - total forgiveness of sin. That first night I slept in peace as I never had. I had been made clean. God's grace was amazing.
I was so grateful in those first few weeks I really felt I'd never sin again! Ha! How naive. I understood that I was forgiven for my past sin but had not seen the depth and breadth of the sin in me. However hard I worked at it I would sin in word, deed and thought. As it says in Isaiah 64:6 (TLB)' We are all infected and impure with sin. When we put on our prized robes of righteousness, we find they are but filthy rags.' So what was I to do? I was soon set straight as I talked to a Christian friend who had followed Jesus for a number of years, the forgiveness of sin was available ongoing from then until my dying day. What a relief.
This psalm showed me how to find the joy and peace I found on the very first day I met and accepted Jesus as my Saviour. I was to be blessed through my whole life. It wasn't that I would not sin again, but I could go back again and again to ask for forgiveness. It wasn't that I would ever be free of sin. I learnt that moment would never come in this life. Enjoying God, being blessed by him is opened by being forgiven by God by the simple act of genuine repentance. In verses 1-2 David tells of sin forgiven, covered and not counting against us. He tells us this blessing comes to those in whose spirit there is no deceit and not those who have no sin as I had thought. This should make each of us come quickly to the Lord and confess our sin. This psalm is a perfect template.
David goes on in verses 3-4 to describe the agony of not being forgiven, ‘My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer’. When we are born of the Spirit, God does a work in us that replaces our hearts of stone, and he gives us a new heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11.19). We become so much more aware of our sin. When we sin, it should cut us through as David describes here. As we come to our senses like in the story Jesus tells of the prodigal younger son, when we 'wake up' to our sin and we run to our Heavenly Father, we find he is waiting for us with arms open wide, and before we can even say sorry our Father sees us and is filled with compassion and runs to us so eager to forgive us (Luke 15:11-32).
Look how David shows how we need to come to the Lord to find forgiveness without excuse in verse 5 ‘Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” – and you forgave the guilt of my sin'. This transaction between confession and forgiveness is immediate. Wonderful.
In Romans 4:6-8 Paul quotes this psalm as evidence that through the death of Jesus for us, God credits us with righteousness by faith and that forgiveness is not something that we can earn by good works. Through the cross, God restores us to a right relationship with himself. The psalm goes on to say pray to God and He becomes your ‘hiding-place’ He protects us from trouble. He guides us and his ‘unfailing love surrounds’ us. Such reassurance! None of this depends on our own ability to be good. Far from it. We needed Jesus far more than we could possibly have imagined when we accepted his great gift of new life - his life for ours. Incredible.
I want to stay on God’s paths. The psalm shows us that God promises that he will guide us: ‘I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you’ (v.8). So today lean into your Saviour. Stay close to him. I for one do not want to be difficult to guide like a horse or a mule that must be controlled by bit and bridle (v.9). There is pain in resisting the Holy Spirit. I desire to follow the promptings of God’s Spirit. I pray I'll hear his voice daily, listen to his instruction, walk in his ways and trust in his love but know there have been times I have failed and there will be times when I will fail in the future, but God is so gracious in forgiving us.
Forgiveness will remain a mainstay of life and as I move forward with the Lord day by day it is my custom to pray through the Lord's prayer. Since being a child and not even understanding what I prayed ‘and forgive us our trespasses, as we also have forgiven those who trespass against us'. (Matt 6 v 12) Jesus also adds.' For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses' (Matt 6 vv 14-15). So as a disciple of Christ, because of what he has done for me even before I knew him in dying to forgive my sin, I in turn pass on this blessing of forgiveness to those who sin against me. I let them off my hook and place them with God who is the perfect judge. I'm free of the burden. He will judge them rightly. I pray God will bless them, love them and keep them or guide them into his kingdom. His will be done. Free of other's sin against me too!
So, Lord, I pray. Thank you that you died for me on the cross so that I can not only know the relief of forgiveness but that your heart is to pour out blessings. I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life…and pray I will be quick to see my sin and come in repentance to you. Please forgive me, Jesus, and as you taught us to pray that I too can forgive others just as you have forgiven me and, like you, have open arms longing to bless. Let me follow in your ways. Thank you for forgiving not only my deeds and words but my thoughts. Thank you for your abounding grace. Amen
Sing - Amazing Grace!
By Susan Bawler
Susan is married to John and between them they have three sons, a daughter and three grandsons. She is part of the Mums' Bible Study teaching team, and she helps with children's ministry. She has been a member St Margaret's Church for 10 years.
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash