The Covering of Groaning and The Covering of Blessedness

Posted by on Jan 15, 2016 in Uncategorized | One Comment

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“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones 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.
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.”

Psalm 32:1-5

Psalm 32 is written in the context of sins committed and yet forgiven by the Lord. It rejoices in His readiness to abound in steadfast love and mercy for His people. What I want to briefly consider today are the two uses of the word “cover” in the passage above. One comes in verse one (“Blessed is the one…whose sin is covered”), and the second comes in verse 5 (“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity…”).

The word is the same in both instances, however the covering in verse one leads to blessedness while the covering in verse 5 – if David were to have continued in it – would have prevented blessedness. So, one covering blesses, one opposes blessing. What is the difference between these two? Let’s look at the negative example first and then move to the positive.

Bone-Wasting Covering

In verses 3-4 we are given a truly unsettling picture of what hidden sin does to the soul:

“For when I kept silent, my bones 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.”

This is God’s design for the human heart, especially the hearts of His people. He intends it to be difficult for us to remain in sin, and that is an expression of His mercy. The wasting bones and groaning soul of a man or woman who is hiding their sin – who can’t look God “eye to eye” because of what they’re doing in the shadowed corners of their lives – that internal anguish is the Lord’s grace to drive His people back to Himself. Notice that verse 4 makes this clear by saying that it was the Lord’s hand on David day and night, drying up his strength and generally making life miserable. Again – that is His kindness! Only a shepherd who cares nothing for his sheep will let them walk up to the edge of a cliff without putting them back on the right path with his staff. In the same way, bone-wasting, soul-groaning, strength-drying anguish of heart is the merciful staff of our Good Shepherd directing us back to the green pastures of His unimpeded presence.

And, by God’s grace, David responds. Look at verse 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.”

Finally, as when a boil is lanced and the infection released, David acknowledges his sin to the Lord. The curtains are torn down, the door is thrown open, and – through confession and repentance – the fresh mountain air of fellowship with the living God streams in. Note, how David describes this act of turning to the Lord: “I did not cover my iniquity.” The implication is that in verses 3-4, he was covering his iniquity.

Sin kept inside, sin thrust down, sincere guilt pushed far back into the corners of our mind where it only speaks during lulls in our other thoughts – that is what it looks like for a human to cover their sin, and it rots us from the inside out. And – I’ll say as a side note – if covered sin isn’t causing us internal agony, that is an even worse sign…..a 3rd degree burn, though deeper and more serious than 1st and 2nd degree burns, doesn’t hurt as badly because the nerves have been destroyed. In the same way, hidden sin with no heart-anguish means the nerves of our spiritual sensitivity are already being eroded….

So, sin that we ourselves “cover” leads to destructive internal turmoil that drives a wedge further and further between us and the Lord…..but, praise God, that is not the only covering mentioned in these verses.

Joy-Giving Covering

Back to verse 1. Here we see the covering that the Lord gives, and David says, “Blessed (that is, “Oh how deeply happy”) is the one” whose sins are covered in this way. Remember, the word for “cover” here is the exact same as in verse 5, the difference is the one who is doing the covering. When the Lord covers our sin – it is joy (now in this life, and ever increasingly in eternity), when we cover our sin – it is torment (now in this life, and ever increasingly in eternity).

What a wonder that such a thing can happen…..that sins actually can be forgiven. Consider it for a moment…..our guilt, our sin, our horrendous failures or rebellion can be swallowed up in the sea of love-born grace that is the heart of our Triune God. And how does God do this? With what does the All Holy God cover sin? What possible covering is their that will hide the perversion of our iniquity from the searching and pure eyes of the Judge? Only one: the Blood of God the Son.

Only the life of God incarnate, poured out in love on the cross, can cover the sins of humanity. And how completely and perfectly Christ’s blood does this work! He does not simply cover our sins in the sense of hiding them far out of sight, instead He becomes our sin and is Himself covered in the hell of God’s wrath. More than covered – our sin is obliterated when Jesus dies on the cross…….and when He rises from the dead, He covers our blood-washed forms in the robes of His own divine righteousness. Sin could not be further removed from the one who trust in Jesus Christ! His death drags sin into the infinite depths of God’s wrath and His resurrection raises His Bride into the infinite heights of God’s righteousness…..

So friends, may we not be those who try to cover our own sin….if you’ve ever tried for long, you know what a hopeless endeavor it is. Instead, may we be those who rejoice to know that the incalculable ransom has been paid, that the Son has laid down and taken up His life for our sakes, and let us run to God in Christ – again and again, 7 times 77 times in a day if need be – and in Him let us receive the blood-bought grace that alone can cover our sins. As David said (though, probably he didn’t understand what the fullness of these words would be), “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

1 Comment

  1. Pam Powers
    January 15, 2016

    Amen.

    Reply

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