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A Lenten Reflection on Psalm 32: The Freedom of Forgiveness

By Michael Roop

This blog is part of a series reflecting on Psalm 32. Read the rest of the series here.

Crushed under the weight of sin, a weight that could not be ignored and that would not be lifted by shifting blame, David made one last attempt at relief. 

5   I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
 I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

He acknowledged, uncovered, and confessed all of it. And this is a risky move, perhaps the riskiest of all. God is infinitely just and impartial, and He has promised that He will “by no means clear the guilty…” (Exodus 34:7). Not only is God in the position of cosmic Judge, but He is also the offended Party! He is the one against whom every sin is ultimately committed, something David himself elsewhere confessed (Psalm 51:4). 

Ultimately, it is this fear that holds us back from confession and leads us either to ignore or blame others for our sin. We cannot face the look of disgust we expect will come with being/becoming completely uncovered. And in one sense, we’re not wrong! When we are uncovered and brought into the light, what’s to be seen there is truly horrific. 

And yet, a look of disgust is not what David found when he put all the cards on the table. No excuses, no spin, no extenuating circumstances. Just the cold, hard truth. Do you see the repetition of the three lenses? Sin, iniquity, transgression. All there, all true. And when David faced it, owned it, and confessed it before our LORD, what did he experience?


Not disgust, or judgment, or condemnation, or repudiation, or impatience. Forgiveness. Let’s not cheapen this moment with our western distortions of forgiveness. This is not a moment of, “Don’t worry about it,” or, “These things happen,” or, “You didn’t mean it,” or, “I’m sure you did your best,” or, “The deck was stacked against you.” True forgiveness has to face the magnitude of what is being forgiven. 

Put it this way: I know a lot about my first car. I know the size and power of the engine, the two-door design, the AM/FM radio with a state-of-the-art cassette tape deck. I know the feel of the rear-wheel drive and the size of the trunk that begged for the subwoofers it never received. I know how all these features added up to my feelings about the car, but only my parents know the exact value of that car, because they bought it. 

For the same reason, only God knows the precise amount of our debt to  Him. He paid for it. Centuries later, David’s Heir would justify God’s forgiveness of David by paying the price for David’s sin on the cross (Romans 3:25). Only the cross can reveal precisely how evil we are, because only the crucified Son of God was a sufficient payment to cover our debt. 

And, only the cross can reveal precisely how forgiven we are, because the Son of God DID die to pay off our debt. And that is why confession leads to blessing. When we lay it all out before God - no excuses, no blame - we find what our souls long for most. We find forgiveness, acceptance, and delight.