Summary: "Good News for the Guilty" is an exposition of Psalm 32. The bad news of the psalm is that you can run, but you cannot hide from God. But you can run to God and you can hide in God! The good news for lost sinners and saved sinners is that sin can be forgi
GOOD NEWS FOR THE GUILTY
SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, the novelist who created the master detective, Sherlock Holmes, enjoyed a practical joke at other people’s expense. He sent identical telegrams to twelve of his friends. The telegrams were anonymous and simply said: “All has been discovered. Flee at once.” Within twenty-four hours, all twelve men had fled the country.
Is there some unconfessed sin in your life that has put you on the run from your guilty conscious? If so, I have good news. However, I must first give you the bad news: You can run, but you cannot hide from God. David, the author of this psalm, learned this the hard way. In 2 Samuel 11, David was at the prime of his life and the height of his powers. Foolishly, he sent his armies out to war, as he relaxed at home. David was secure in his military strength. But his spiritual weakness left him vulnerable to temptation when from his balcony his saw a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of his soldier, Uriah. This began a freefall that took David from adultery to conspiracy to murder. For more than a year, David lived in self-deception, thinking that he had gotten away with something.
David finally hit rock bottom when God confronted him through the prophet Nathan. In 2 Samuel 12:13 David confesses: “I have sinned against the Lord.” This simple confession is fully expressed in Psalm 51, where David prays: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” Psalm 32 is sequel to Psalm 51. For that reason, it is often categorized as a penitential psalm. But Psalm 32 is not a prayer of confession. It is a song of praise to God for the blessing of forgiveness. Psalm 32 is good news for the guilty. I repeat: The bad news is that you can run but you cannot hide from God. The good news is that you can run to God and hind in God. God is ready, willing, and able to give you another chance, a fresh start, and a new beginning. This is the good news for both lost sinners and saved sinners: By the sovereign grace of God, sin can be forgiven and sin can be avoided.
I. SIN CAN BE FORGIVEN.
The story is told in Spain of a father’s strained relations with his teenage son who had ran away. He was determined to get his son back. But after all of his efforts failed, he finally placed an ad in the local Madrid newspaper. The ad read: “Dear, Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father. And it is said that the next day at noon some 800 teenagers named Paco congregated in front of the newspaper office, all seeking the forgiving love of their fathers.
Maybe you have a guilty conscious that troubles you to set things right with some family member, friend, or loved-one. More importantly, maybe you have a guilty conscious that troubles you to set things right with God. I stand to tell you that God loves you and no matter what you have done, your sin can be forgiven. David testifies to this in the first stanza of Psalm 32.
A. THE BLESSING OF CONFESSED SIN
Psalm 32 is the second psalm that begins with a blessing. The first is Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1 blesses the one who travels the right path and does not allow the temptation to sin to cause him to stray away. Psalm 32 blesses the one who has come to a fork in the road and has chosen the wrong path. Yet at some point you turned around and came back to God, only to discover that he had not left you. He was still where you left him, waiting to give you another chance. That’s what it means to be blessed.
If this is not a blessing that excites your heart and mind and soul, you have not come to grips with the sinfulness of your sin. David had. Note the four terms he uses in verses 1-2 to describe his sin. First of all, it is transgression – willful rebellion against the revealed will of God. It s when you know the right thing to do, but you essentially say, “I don’t care. I’m going to do what I want to do.” David says, “I’m guilty of that.” Likewise, it is sin – to miss the mark or fail to reach the goal. It is a sports term that refers to the archer who carefully shoots but misses the bulls-eye. It is those times when you try to do right but fall short of what is pleasing to God. David says, “I’m also guilty of that.” Furthermore, it is iniquity, which refers to that which is bent or twisted. “Transgression” and “sin” describe our sinful ways. “Iniquity” describes our sinful nature. It is the inclinations of our fallen nature that result in sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. David was guilty of all of this. Even worse, verse 2 indicates David was also guilty of deceit, during a period in which he would not honest with God about his sin.