The Joy of Forgiveness
Of David. A Maskil.
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’, and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. You are a hiding-place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
Reflection by Duke Yaguchi
Let me begin with a couple of footnotes. Of David a Maskil means a skillful poetic or didactic psalm of David. The Selah remark is a musical notation, so it may have been that this psalm was meant to be sung.
This psalm contains three progressive messages. First that guilt from sin can be very debilitating. We've all experienced this. We do something wrong, and we replay it in our minds over and over again. Even if we try to forget the past, it creeps into our subconscious ever so quietly. It festers like an old wound. It never really goes away.
Second, forgiveness of sin can be very uplifting. If we can acknowledge our forgiveness from God, we can shed the yolk of this past burden, be glad, and look to a brighter tomorrow. At times it is difficult to accept God's forgiveness. But once we do, we no longer have to carry the guilt. With a lighter load, we can live with a little more spring in our step, and a freer mind more open to the day's delights.
Third, forgiveness doesn't come without responsibility. With the forgiveness, we are to look to God for continued guidance. We shouldn't just be mean and sinful all of the time knowing that we will be forgiven. God wants us to change. God wants us to be in communication with the Almighty, listening, and living in the Light of God.
Step one comes naturally, unless one is a narcissist and is oblivious to the hurt one creates. Steps two and three are much more difficult because they mean taking intentional steps to change our current condition. How many times have we been told that God forgives us? Yet how many times do we wonder - does God really forgive me? For this transgression? If so, how long do we stay an obedient servant until we begin to stray again and fall out of communication with God?
This psalm is a prescription for a healthier life. As we repeatedly cycle through these steps, perhaps we can go through steps one and two more quickly and stay in step three for longer and longer periods? Wouldn't that be nice?
God, I know in my mind that you forgive me. I pray that I really believe it. Not just half-heartedly, but with my entire body, heart and soul. And I pray that I can stay in communication with you so that I may increase my understanding of what you want for my life. Amen.