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A Lenten Reflection on Psalm 32: A Call to Joy

By Michael Roop

As we conclude our Lenten journey through Psalm 32, today’s topic may seem out of place for an email on Good Friday. However, if you’ve missed any of the rest of this series, let me encourage you to start from the beginning and reflect slowly throughout this Holy weekend.

David experienced the crushing weight of sin, guilt, and shame. He could not ignore this weight, nor could he satisfactorily place it on the shoulders of another. So instead, he faced it. He confessed his sin to the LORD, and he found forgiveness.

So overcome by the experience of forgiveness was he that he immediately admonishes all his listeners to follow suit. Don’t wait! Call out to the LORD in confession and repentance now, while you have the chance. After all, it is not the righteous, but those who trust in the LORD who will experience the blessed relief of forgiveness.

But before we put a pin in this reflection, we have one more step to take. David captures it in the last verse of his poem:

11     Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,

        and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Notice the triple command: be glad, rejoice, shout for joy! The three similar admonitions (rather than just two) emphasize  how absolutely necessary it is that we who have been blessed by God’s forgiveness should now live a life that expresses the joy we have found.

This brings to mind Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17. From a distance, they cried out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus simply commands them to present themselves to the priests, which the Law prescribed as the pathway to being declared healed, or “clean,” from leprosy.

Still leprous, they depart. Only on the way do they realize they are healed. “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice” (17:15). Sounds like Psalm 32:11, doesn’t it?

When he gets back to Jesus and expresses his thanks, Jesus notes the fact that only he returned to offer thanks. Then, the healed man hears these words: “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well” (17:19). Notice that none of the other nine heard these words! This man’s thanksgiving offered an assurance that his faith was the real deal. Joyful thanksgiving in us is evidence that we have experienced the healing and forgiving presence of God in Christ.

As we celebrate the resurrection of Christ this weekend and the work of forgiveness that He has finished on our behalf, don’t forget to shout for joy! Be glad and rejoice! We are blessed by the sweetness of His love for us. From our sins, we are free.