Dealing with Others just as God Deals with Me: Lessons from Psalm 32

How we deal with an offense is important. So important that God used David in Psalm 32 to describe both the proper and improper ways of handling sin in one’s life. This interaction we see between David and God is also beneficial for our interaction within all our relationships. Let’s take a quick look at Psalm 32 (I’ve posted the Psalm in it’s entirety at the end of this post):

How should we deal with our sin?

Verse 5 states the process clearly for us. We need to acknowledge our sin to the one whom we offend. We cause the other person to know what we have done. We do not cover it or hide it. In the process of acknowledgment of our sin, we confess our wrongdoing to the one whom we have offended. As you probably understand, confession is saying the same thing about our sin as God does. It is not a mere, “I’m sorry” or “I sinned” or “I messed up”. Rather it is “I used unkind words in our conversation…” or “I lacked self-control and lusted after these pornographic images…”, etc. We must begin to correct years of wrong thinking that basically says, “we don’t talk about that”. Acknowledge your sin to the one whom you offended.

When do we deal with our sin?

Verse 6 seems to indicate the necessity of doing it immediately. Use the window of opportunity to deal with your sin as quickly as possible. Do not ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit within you. Deal with your sin immediately. Demonstrate your desire to be godly and in humility, acknowledge your sin. Deal with your sin quickly.

What if I do not want to deal with my sin in God’s way?

Great question. David describes three aspects of negative consequences to not acknowledging our sin immediately in God’s way:

  • Physical Effects:
    • v.3 – “…my bones wasted away…” The strongest components of our physical make-up begin to deteriorate due to the effect of sin. Physical weakness comes as a result of refusing to acknowledge sin in our lives.
    • v.3 – “…groaning all day long…” We might stubbornly refuse to speak about our sin, but our discomfort causes us to verbalize the pain of our weak attempts to smother the conviction God provides.
    • v.4 – “…my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer…” Our vitality is sapped much like a fragile flower wilts under the blazing sun of summer.
  • Spiritual Effects:
    • v.4 – “…your hand was heavy upon me…” God will not be satisfied with our refusal to deal with our sin. He will continually prick our conscience through his Word and Spirit until we come to repentance. How weary we become when we try to resist the heavy hand of God! Daily thoughts of our wrong-doing plague us – even our sleep is effected due to our constant mulling over the sin in our lives that is left ignored.
  • Emotional Effects:
    • v.10a – “…many are the sorrows of the wicked…” The wounds of our conscience are multiplied. Our grief, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, sadness, and many other emotions are continually added to as a result of not acknowledging sin.

What are the benefits of dealing with my sin God’s way?

The benefits are numerous and scattered throughout the Psalm. Here is a smattering of what David says about the benefits of acknowledging and confessing sin:

  • We are blessed (happy, experiencing delight)
  • Our sins are covered
  • Our sins are not held against us
  • There is openness in our relationship (integrity of heart)
  • Steadfast love surrounds us
  • Gladness
  • Rejoicing
  • Joy
  • Knowledge that I am doing what is right

What about the future, do I have any hope to not sin like this again?

Yes! Verses 8 & 9 speak to what God will do for us to keep us in right standing with him. He will instruct us by giving us direction for life; and counsel us under his watchful eye. These verses are God’s answer to the timely prayer offered in verse 7. God’s desire is to instruct us in further holiness after he pardons us of our sin. As we keep our face toward his, we see his eye and experience his gentle prodding and counsel. We also experience the intimacy of the closeness of this relationship with God as he watches over us.

With proper guidance comes a warning for the future as well

Verse 9 encourages us not to return to the stubbornness that put us into the position of having to deal with our sin. Rather than being like stubborn mules, we should accept the direction that God provides for us. In doing so, we will enjoy the closeness of God in our lives.

Most of this post has dealt with our interaction between ourselves and God. Let’s take a moment and reflect how what we have learned shapes our relationships with others who may have offended us, or vice versa.

  1. We need to acknowledge our sin against others in the same manner as we do to God.
  2. We need to deal with our sin in a timely fashion, just as we do with God.
  3. What are the results of refusing to deal with our sin against others, or their sin against us?
    1. The same three aspects of life are affected: physical, spiritual and emotional. Our lack of dealing with sin God’s way can cause all kinds of physical maladies in ourselves, and others. (ulcers, lack of sleep, etc) Spiritually, when we don’t forgive as Christ forgave us, we attempt to make others bear the punishment of their sin (which has already been done…IN CHRIST). Emotionally, we cause sorrow or experience and increase in sorrow in our lives as we refuse to deal with sin.
  4. What are the benefits of dealing with our sin against others, or their sin against us?
    1. We have joy, happiness and delight in our relationship again!
    2. There is no deceit in our relationship, rather we live in integrity!
    3. Love surrounds us!
    4. There is intimacy once again!

Chance to interact: What other aspects of our relationships might be affected as a result of handling sin God’s way?

Psalm 32:1-11

A Maskil of David.

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.  3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah  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  6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.  7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah  8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.  9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.  10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.  11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

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