Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of the Psalms which is a collection of prayers, petition and praise found within psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters thirty-two through thirty-six of this Old Testament book. BLESSED IS HE WHOSE TRANSGRESSION IS FORGIVEN, WHOSE SIN IS COVERED! BLESSED IS THE MAN UNTO WHOM THE LORD IMPUTETH NOT INIQUITY, AND IN WHOSE SPIRIT THERE IS NO GUILE! Before you move any further within this particular psalm—or the other psalms that are included in this particular portion of Scripture—I implore and invite you to consider the tremendous significance and beauty that is found within the opening verses of the thirty-second chapter. I can’t help but be absolutely and completely astounded when reading these words which were written by David, for I can’t help but wonder and think to myself if while writing these words David looked back over his own life, and looked at how the LORD had not only forgiven him, but also had covered his sin. Is it possible that when David wrote these words he remembered within his own life how the LORD had forgiven him of his sin, and how the LORD in His mercy and grace covered his sin and transgression? Within the opening verses of this particular psalm we not only read concerning transgression which is forgiven, but we also read of sin being covered, and iniquity not being imputed unto that one who had indeed committed a trespass against the LORD. I have to admit that as I sit here this morning, I can’t help but be reminded of several passages in Scripture that speak directly to the mercy and grace of the LORD within our lives concerning sin, concerning transgression and concerning iniquity. First and foremost, I can’t help but be reminded of David’s own transgressions before the LORD when he not only committed adultery with Bathsheba, but also murdered her husband Uriah in an attempt to cover up the fruit of that infidelity. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the prophet Nathan spoke unto David according to the word of the LORD which had indeed come unto him, for the LORD would send him to correct and rebuke David in the midst of his transgression and iniquity. What’s more, is that I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Rome, for the apostle Paul takes these very words and uses them to illustrate the beautiful reality of being justified by faith alone through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. What’s more, is I am reminded of the words which the same apostle wrote in the very same epistle—not only in the third chapter, but also the sixth and eighth chapter. There is within the epistle written unto the Roman saints a powerful declaration concerning sin, transgression and iniquity, as the apostle not only sought to illustrate the curse and penalty of sin, but also the great mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. As I prepare to delve into this writing I invite you to consider first and foremost the narrative of David and his sin with Bathsheba, as well as his prayer of repentance before the LORD, followed by the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle written unto the Romans:
“…But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: but the poor man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; and it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had not pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, THE LORD ALSO HATH PUT AWAY THY SIN; THOU SHALT NOT DIE. Howbeit because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (2 Samuel 11:27-12:14).
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindess: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall e converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O LORD, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else I would give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar” (Psalm 51:1-19).
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? For we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How as it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision. Not circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And her received the sign of circumcision, a seal o the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumsion only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet circumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, so shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:1-25).
“What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wi we: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Good forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:9-31).
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall. Also live with him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servant to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:3-23).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but I n the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:1-11).
As you read these passages of Scripture you will not only be confronted with David’s iniquity and transgression before the LORD when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband in order to cover everything up. It is necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this reality, for when the prophet Nathan confronted David—not only did he declare unto David that he was the man of whom he spoke in the parable, but Nathan also declared unto David that his sin was forgiven him, and that he would not die. Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous weight that must have been released from the heart and soul of David knowing that the LORD had put away his sin from him. What actually makes this narrative all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that the words which we find written in the fifty-first chapter of the book of Psalms were prayed AFTER Nathan confronted David, and AFTER Nathan declared unto David that his sin would be put away from him, and he would not die. Even though David heard straight from the mouth of the prophet that his sin and iniquity would be put away from him, and even though he heard that he would not die, he still went before the LORD in prayer and supplication. I would dare say that David’s prayer of confession and repentance before the LORD might very well have taken place before or during the time he spent praying that God might spare the life of the child that would be born unto both he and Bathsheba. Scripture isn’t clear when David specifically prayed this prayer, however, we do know and understand that David prayed this prayer in light of, and in the wake of being confronted by Nathan the prophet. In all reality, I would dare say that David found great courage and great confidence before the LORD his God when praying these words because the prophet Nathan had declared unto him that he would not die because of, nor would he die in his sin. We know from Scripture that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and we know that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, and it is truly something to consider the great confidence David had before the LORD to not only cast himself upon His mercy and grace, but also as He cried out for forgiveness, for cleansing, and for healing. As you read the words which are written and recorded in the fifty-first chapter of the book of the Psalms you will find David beginning his passionate plea and cry before the LORD by asking him to have mercy upon him according to his loving kindness. What’s more, is that you will find David asking and appealing unto the LORD to blot out his transgressions according unto the multitude of His tender mercies.
The words which we find written and recorded within this particular chapter found in the Old Testament book of the Psalms is something that is truly worth noting and considering, for David’s first appeal before the LORD was for mercy, while that plea for mercy would be immediately followed by a plea before the LORD to blot out His transgressions. David would then immediately follow this by asking the LORD to wash him from his iniquity—and not only wash him from his iniquity, but to also cleanse him from his sin. Even more than this, we find that David didn’t blame anyone for his sins, nor did he attempt to skirt his responsibility for what he had done, but David declared that he acknowledged his transgressions, and that his sin was ever before him. Moreover, David declared that it was against the LORD, and against the LORD only, He had sinned, and done this evil in his sight. It’s worth noting that David also spoke before and unto the LORD how he had been conceived in sin, and how the LORD his God desired truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part would he make him to know wisdom. It should also be noted that while David began by asking the LORD to have mercy upon him, he would go on to become more specific in his request before the LORD. David didn’t merely stop at asking the LORD to have mercy upon him, and to blot out his transgressions, but he would go on to ask the LORD to purge him with hyssop. What’s more, is David would go on to ask the LORD to wash him and he would be whiter than snow. David began by asking the LORD to have mercy upon him, and then transitioned to asking him to blot out his transgressions. This would be followed by a cry to be purged and washed that he might be clean and whiter than snow. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the prophet Isaiah prophesied according to the word of the LORD which were written in the first chapter of this prophetic book: “Come now and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; thou they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The words which David prayed would be echoed to a similar degree by the prophet Isaiah when the LORD invited His people to come and let them reason together in order that their sins which were as scarlet would be white as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they would be as wool. This is absolutely necessary and imperative when you take the time to think about and consider it, for David desperately desired the LORD to cleanse him, to wash him, and to make him clean, for he recognized and understood the value of being clean before the LORD. Permit me to ask you who are reading these words whether or not you are clean before the LORD? Are you truly clean, and have you truly been washed by and before the LORD?
Consider if you will the narrative that is found in the New Testament gospel of Matthew concerning the baptism of John, as well as the words which are spoken by Jesus in the upper room unto the disciples when He laid aside His garments, took up the towel, and washed the disciples’ feet. Pay close attention to the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples concerning their being clean, and how if He did not wash them, they would have no part in Him. There is within the four gospel narratives of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ a powerful picture—not only of water baptism, and not only Spirit baptism with fire, but also the washing of the disciples feet by Jesus the Christ. Listen carefully to the following narratives which are found within the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus:
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptized you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).
“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latched of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison” Luke 3:15-20).
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirt descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1;29-24).
“Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was c one from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needed not save to wash his feet, but is clean every white: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, ye are not all clean” (John 13:1-11).
As I sit here today, I can’t help but think about the reality of just how precious, and just how beautiful it is to not only be forgiven before and in the sight of the living God, but to actually be clean before Him in His sight. David knew and recognized the importance and value of being clean in the sight of the living God, and He desperately cried out in the sight and presence of the LORD to not only purge him, but also to wash him. David recognized and understood the value of being forgiven in the sight and presence of the living God, and David recognized how absolutely critical and vital it was to have his sins forgiven, and to be throughly cleansed and purged from the inside out of his iniquity, his transgressions, his sin, his rebellion and wickedness. David did in fact cry out before the LORD to have mercy upon him, and David did ask the LORD to blot out his transgressions, but he took that a step further and asked the LORD to throughly and completely cleanse and purge him that he might be be clean and whiter than snow. The question I can’t help but ask you who might be reading these words is whether or not this is the cry of your heart—to not only be forgiven in the sight and presence of the living God, but also to be clean in His presence. Do you know what it’s like to truly stand in the presence of the LORD with clean hands and a pure heart as David the Psalmist spoke of—“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3-4). This reality was expressed even more so in the first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah when the prophet declared before and unto the southern kingdom of Judah, saying, “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15). David understood and recognized that only those with clean hands and a pure heart before the LORD could ascend the hill of the LORD, and could stand in His holy place, and the prophet Isaiah—immediately after declaring unto the people of Judah that their hands were full of blood instructed and invited them to wash, to make themselves clean, to put away the evil of their doings from before the eyes of the LORD, to cease to do evil, to learn to do well, to seek judgment, to relieve the oppressed, to judge the fatherless, and to plead for the widow. It’s incredibly remarkable and astounding that in the pray of David he asked the LORD to wash him, and yet when you come to the prophetic book of Isaiah you will find the prophet of the LORD instructing the people to wash themselves, and to make themselves clean as they put away the evil of their doings before the eyes of the LORD.
The prayer which David prayed before and in the sight of the living God was truly remarkable and astonishing when you take into consideration that David was able to enter into the presence of the LORD and repent of his iniquity and transgressions, for Nathan the prophet had declared unto him that his sin would be covered and put away from him, and that he would not die. Despite the declaration of the prophet Nathan David would still pray before and unto the LORD declaring unto Him his iniquity, his transgression and his sin. It should be noted that the confrontation of the prophet wasn’t enough for David, nor was even David’s confession before Nathan. You will recall that after hearing the rebuke of the prophet Nathan David exclaimed and declared, “I have sinned against the LORD,” and yet this was in all reality only the beginning steps David would take in his path of once more being clean before the LORD, and once more knowing what it was like to live “covered.” LIVING COVERED! The question I can’t help but ask is whether you who are reading these words truly understand what it’s like to live covered and clean. COVERED TRANSGRESSIONS, CLEAN HANDS, & A PURE HEART! I find it truly remarkable that in the narrative and exchange between David and the prophet Nathan, David learned that he was the man in Nathan’s parable, David realized that his sin and transgression would not go without being exposed and confronted, and David would declare before Nathan and in the presence of God that he had indeed sinned. It would be in direct response to this encounter with Nathan the prophet—and with his iniquity and transgression itself—David would enter into the secret closet of prayer with full assurance and confidence in the mercy and grace of his God to not only forgive him, but also to cleanse him and create within him something that was absolutely and incredibly critical to his place in the kingdom of God as the king of Israel, as well as his place as the man after God’s own heart. Immediately following David’s cry to the LORD to purge him with hyssop and to wash him, he goes on to ask the LORD to hide His face from his sins, and to blot out all his iniquities before writing and praying the words which have been prayed and even sung within the hearts and souls of men and women who desperately desire to live a life of cleansing in the sight of the living God. In verses ten through twelve of this passage we find words that were even made into a song that at one point was perhaps one of the most beloved and well-known anthems of the Christian heart that desires to be clean and pure in the sight of the LORD. Consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded within this passage beginning to read from the tenth verse of the passage:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thine Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12).
CLEAN HEART! RIGHT SPIRIT! ACCESS INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD! ACCESS TO THE HOLY SPIRIT! I am absolutely and completely convinced that the words which we find written and recorded within the fifty-first chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms are directly linked and connected to the words which we find in the thirty-second chapter, for in the thirty-second chapter we get a truly wonderful and powerful picture of what it looks like when the LORD truly does answer a prayer which David prayed after committing adultery with Bathsheba and after murdering her husband Uriah to cover up his sin and iniquity. In the thirty-second chapter of the book of the Psalms—not only are we immediately confronted with the blessedness of transgression forgiven, but we are also confronted with the blessedness of sin being covered. As if this blessedness weren’t already enough, the psalmist David would go on to write and speak of a further blessedness, as he emphatically speaks of and declares a man who is blessed because the LORD does not impute iniquity. Within the opening verses of this Old Testament book we not only encounter and come face to face with transgression forgiven, sin being covered, but also iniquity not being imputed. What’s more, is that you will find and discover David speaking of those in whose spirit there is no guile. Pause for a moment and consider this absolutely incredible reality as it is set against the backdrop of the prayer which David prayed after being confronted by Nathan the prophet. David desperately desired to know that the LORD had forgiven him, and that the LORD had indeed heard his prayer to blot his iniquity and transgression out of His sight, and here in the thirty-second chapter we find David speaking of the beautiful blessedness of being forgiven, of having your sin covered, and not having sin imputed to your charge or record. This reality is even more beautiful when you consider it in light of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the eighth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Roman saints, for within this chapter the apostle Paul emphatically and boldly declares that there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and those who walk not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In the second epistle which the same apostle wrote unto the Corinthian congregation we find him declaring that if any man be in Christ, they are a new creation—old things have passed away, and behold all things are becoming new. Oh there is something amazing and wonderful about not only living in that place of freedom from condemnation, but also in that place of being a new creation in Christ as old things have passed away and are passing away, and as all things have become and are becoming new.
What we must recognize and realize when reading the words which David wrote within this passage of Scripture is that this blessedness of transgression forgiven and sin being covered comes not without humility, transparency and vulnerability. David spoke of trying to keep silent, however, in the process of keeping quiet his bones waxed old through his roaring all the day long. What’s more, is David would go on to declare of the LORD that night and day His hand was heaven upon him, and his moisture or tears is turned into the drought of summer. Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous reality of what David is saying, for that which he is writing and speaking of it the byproduct and results of failing—perhaps even refusing—to confess your sins to the LORD. David wrote how in his attempt to keep silent, and in his attempt to conceal his sin, the hand of the LORD was heavy upon him, and there was this deep guilt and shame that consumed his body. Oh, there is a great personal cost to not only attempting to hide and conceal your sin, but also to try and deal and cope with it apart from confessing it before the LORD. There is something wonderfully freeing about a willingness to confess your faults, confess your sins, confess your transgressions, confess your iniquities, and to confess your wrongdoings before and in the sight of the living God. You will notice that in the fifth verse of this chapter David goes on to speak of his acknowledging his sin unto the LORD, and no longer hiding his iniquity in the sight of the l Irving God. Moreover, David also declared that he would confess his transgressions unto the LORD, and that when he confessed his transgressions before the LORD, the LORD forgave the iniquity of his sin. Stop for a moment and consider what David is actually saying, for in the opening verse David speaks of transgression forgiven and sin being covered, and now David reveals how sin is truly and indeed forgiven and covered—through confession and acknowledging of your sin before and in the sight of the LORD. I feel absolutely and completely compelled to declare unto you that there can be no transgression forgiven, nor can there be no sin that is covered without and apart from acknowledging our sin in the sight of the LORD, and confessing it before Him in His presence and in His sight. We cannot, we dare not, we must expect forgiveness of that which we have not first confessed, and that which we have not acknowledged before and in the sight of the living God. There is forgiveness that is available for sin, for transgression and for iniquity, and yet we cannot think or expect to find that forgiveness, nor the blessedness of being forgiven for our transgression and iniquity without and apart from first acknowledging it within ourselves, and then confessing it before and in the sight of the living God.
It is absolutely wonderful and incredible to think about and consider the fact that David not only spoke about acknowledging his sin, but he also spoke of confessing that sin before the LORD, for there can be no forgiveness, nor can there be any covering without and apart from our being willing to confront and deal with our sin head on. There is a tremendous danger in our trying to hide, trying to conceal, and trying to cover up our iniquity, and more often than not our attempt to hide and conceal it not only has consequences within our own heart and life, but it can also have consequences for the community in which we are a part of. Lest you think for one moment that this is not and cannot be the case, I would like to draw and call your attention to the words which are written and recorded in the seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua, for within this chapter we find a man who not only sinned and transgressed against the commandment of the LORD, but also who attempted to hide and conceal it. Consider if you will the following narrative which is found within this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse of the chapter:
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven, on the east side of Beth-el, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty. And six men: for they chased them from before the gate Even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eve tide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore lies thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accused thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes: and it shall be, that the tribe which the LORD taketh shall come according to the families thereof; and the family which the LORD shall take shall come by households; and the household which the LORD shall take shall come man by man. And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel. So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes; and the tribe of Judah was taken: and he brought the family of Judah; and he took the family of the Zarhites: and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and Zabdi was taken: and he brought his household man by man; and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken. And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it. So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent; and, behold, it was hid in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua, and unto all the children of Israel, and laid them out before the LORD. And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? The LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the LORD turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day” (Joshua 7:1-26).
The narrative which you find in this Old Testament book of Joshua is truly quite powerful when you take it into consideration with the words which David spoke in the thirty-second chapter of the book of Psalms, for when you read of Achan’s transgression you will find that it wasn’t merely about him looking upon something and coveting it. As you look at the narrative of Achan and the sin of the children of Israel you will find that. Achan saw the accursed things in a city that was marked for destruction—and not only saw the accursed things, but also coveted those things, and ultimately took it. If you read these words, however, you will find that the iniquity and transgression of Achan went beyond his covetousness and transgression against the command of the LORD. Achan’s transgression went far beyond simply covetousness and disobeying the command of the LORD, for he also thought he could bring that transgression into the midst of the camp, and hide it within his tent. I find it absolutely astounding to think about and consider the fact that Achan actually thought and believed that he would be able to bring the accursed things into the camp of the people of God—the camp which was to be holy, which was to be sanctified, which was to be consecrated and set apart unto the living God. What’s more, is that Achan actually thought and believed that he could hide the accursed thing within his tent—not only from his family, and not only from the congregation of the children of Israel, but also from the LORD of hosts. The more you read this narrative the more you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that Achan’s deception went beyond merely thinking he could bring the accursed thing into the camp, and beyond simply his hiding the accursed thing in the midst of his house, but also thinking and believing that there wouldn’t be any consequences for his actions. Perhaps one of the most tragic and dangerous realities surrounding the narrative of Achan is that he actually believed that his actions would not have consequences—and not only consequences, but would directly impact the entire congregation of the children of Israel. It’s truly something fierce to think about and consider the fact that Achan’s transgression against the command of the LORD—his looking upon the accursed thing, his coveting the accursed thing, his taking the accursed thing, his bringing the accursed thing into the camp of God, and his hiding the accursed thing within his tent in the midst of the congregation of God—would directly impact the congregation of the children of Israel, as it would cause them to be accursed in the sight of their God, and even powerless before their enemies.
POWERLESS BEFORE YOUR ENEMIES: THE DANGER OF THINKING YOU CAN HIDE YOUR TRANSGRESSION! The narrative of Achan and taking of the accursed thing, and his hiding it within his tent in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel is a powerful warning and word of caution to us as the people of God—namely if we think that we can transgress against the command of the LORD, and think that we can somehow hide and conceal that transgression. Achan thought he could hide his transgression and his iniquity from the congregation of the children of Israel, and yet what he ultimately wound up doing was causing the entire congregation to become powerless before their enemies. When Joshua sent three thousand men up against Ai they were forced to flee from the presence of the enemy, and thirty-six souls were killed on that day. Stop for a moment and think about the tremendous danger that surrounds thinking and believing that we can somehow hide and conceal our iniquity and our transgression from the LORD. There is something inherently dangerous about thinking and believing that we can transgress the command of the LORD, and attempt to conceal our transgression from the LORD, as well as others, and there not be direct implications and consequences. You will notice in the thirty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms that David spoke of his keeping silence, and the direct impact and result his keeping silence would have on his physical body when he chose to do so. I am absolutely and completely convinced that beyond the direct implications and effects our keeping silent, our hiding and concealing our transgression from the LORD—or thinking wwe can somehow conceal and hide it from His presence—has upon our physical body, it has the ability to directly impact and affect those close to us. In all reality, I would dare say that sin and transgression never takes place in a bubble, nor does it every take place in a vacuum. Sin and transgression against the command of the LORD is never isolated, and it is never simply about the iniquity and transgression of the sin itself. It extends beyond our physical body, and it extends beyond the tremendous conflict and struggle with guilt and shame, and may very well extend into the realm of those around us, as it has the ability to impact and affect them. Consider the fact that David’s iniquity and transgression didn’t merely impact and affect him, but it also resulted in death—“for the wages of sin is death.” David’s iniquity and transgression would ultimately result in the death of that child which was conceived as a direct result of the adultery and fornication with Bathsheba, and this thing would be decreed by the LORD, and even prophesied and spoken by Nathan the prophet and servant of the LORD. What’s more, is that when the prophet Nathan confronted David, he would also declare unto him how his iniquity and transgression gave great occasion to the enemies of the people of God to have dominion and authority over them—a choice which would later be seen and witnessed in the three options presented to David when he would transgress against the command of the LORD in numbering Israel.
Despite the warning and word of caution given unto him by Joab the commander of his army, David would continue to go forth and transgress the command of the LORD—an action that would present one of his choices being the people of God being defeated before their enemies for a prescribed period of time. It’s interesting to note that David’s transgression was both personal and private, and yet it would have national implications, as through his sin and transgression he opened the door for the enemies of the people of God to have great occasion against the people of God. When you look at and examine the transgression of David with Bathsheba you will find that his iniquity essentially produced two distinct consequences—one which would actually come to pass, and another which could have come to pass. Through David’s adultery with Bathsheba, through his murder of Bathsheba’s husband, and even through his thinking he could somehow hide and conceal his transgression, David would not only give great occasion to the enemies of the people of God over the congregation of God, but the child which was conceived as a result of that adultery would ultimately die. When you look at an event which would take place later in the life of David as he would ignore the warning and counsel of Joab and ultimately number the people of Israel, you will find that David was given three distinct choices and options as consequences for his iniquity, and he would choose one. Consider if you will the account as it is written and recorded in the twenty-first chapter of the the book of First Chronicles beginning to read with and from the fifth and opening verse:
“And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He smote Israel. And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but not, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. And the LORD spake unto gad, David’s seer, saying, Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may did it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me. And David said unto Gad, I am in great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men” (1 Chronicles 21:5-14).
It’s quite interesting to read and consider this narrative which would unfold later on during the years of the reign of David king of Israel, for within this narrative we find David’s iniquity and transgression extending beyond simply himself. David’s iniquity with Bathsheba would have given great occasion of the enemies and adversaries of the people of God to overtake them, and for the name of God to be blasphemed, however, we know and understand that only the child which was conceived as a direct result of the transgression would die. In the case of David’s transgression in numbering the congregation of Israel we find that one of the options presented to him by the LORD was three months of being destroyed before the enemies, foes and adversaries of Israel. The other two options were three years of famine in the midst of the land—something that would have ultimately and inevitably resulted in casualties and death in the midst of the land. The third and final option given unto David was three days of the sword of the LORD in the midst of the land, even the pestilence, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Please don’t miss and lose sight of these choices, for they bring us face to face with the fact that transgression before and against the LORD can not only give great occasion to the enemy and adversary within our hearts and lives, but it can also directly impact the lives of others—and even in some circumstances bring about d earth. David chose the third option as a direct result of his iniquity and transgression, and Scripture reveals how the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel, so that there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this tremendous reality, for just as David’s iniquity and transgression with Bathsheba would result in the death of that child which was conceived from their adultery, so also would David’s transgression before the LORD of numbering the people of Israel result in and bring about death in the midst of the land. This transgression wouldn’t simply result in the death of a child, but it would result in the death of seventy thousand souls in the midst of the land. Oh the question I can’t help but wonder and consider is how many innocent men and women perished in the midst of the coasts of Israel as a direct result of the iniquity and transgression before the LORD. How many of those which perished in the midst of the land were indeed and were in fact righteous before and in the sight of the LORD, and yet they fell as a result of the pestilence in the midst of the land.
As I sit here this morning and think about the narrative of seventy thousand souls perishing in the midst of the coasts of Israel because of the iniquity and transgression of David the king of Israel, I can’t help but look upon the condition of our own nation. We are currently walking through—regardless of whether or not certain states are thinking and believing that the surge is over—a pandemic unlike anything that has been seen in this country since the early 1900’s. The COVID-19 pandemic crippled this nation together with its economy and businesses, and forced millions into their homes in a season and period of quarantine and isolation. With that being said, there are constant and consistent reports of positive and presumptive cases of those who have contracted this virus, while there are also consistent reports of deaths which have been caused as a direct result of this pandemic. To date reports indicate that one hundred thousand plus have died as a direct result of this pandemic—a pandemic which not only touched this nation, but touched countless nations of the world. Speaking solely concerning this nation, there have been reports that have suggested and indicated that more than one-hundred thousand have died as a direct result of this virus and pandemic. Regardless of whether or not you believe the numbers are accurate and true we must think about and consider the fact that this nation might very well find itself in a position and place similar to that which the congregation of the children of Israel found themselves sin when the LORD sent pestilence upon the land, and seventy thousand fell of the children of Israel. The underlying question I can’t help but think about and consider is not only whether or not what we have experienced, and what we are walking through is a warning from the throne of God—not only concerning things to come, but also concerning our iniquity and transgression in his sight—as well as a direct result and response of our iniquity and transgression before the LORD. Is it possible that just as the angel of the LORD struck the coasts of Israel and caused seventy thousand to fall in such a short period of time, so also the angel of the LORD could have moved throughout the coasts and borders of the nations of the world, in order that he might carry out the divine will and purpose of the One who sits upon the throne. There is not a doubt in my mind that COVID-19 isn’t real, as I know someone who contracted and overcame it, as well as have heard reports from brothers in the LORD concerning some who have died as a direct result of this virus. I cannot say, nor can I confidently affirm and confirm the validity of the reports that have been released concerning the number of those who have died as a result of the virus, and it is not my place to dispute such a reality. What I can, however, do is think and wonder whether or not what we are witnessing is something similar to what the nation of Israel experienced during the days of David, and how this is not only a warning of God, but also a judgment from God—and yes, even though it would directly impact innocent.
Upon preparing to bring this writing to a close I cannot help but encounter and come face to face with the warning and word of caution—not only against transgression against the command of the LORD, but also in our attempt to hide and conceal our iniquity from those around us, and even from the LORD. There is something inherently dangerous surrounding our thinking and believing we can somehow hide and conceal our iniquity and our transgression, for everything that can be exposed will ultimately be exposed and will be brought into the light. Regardless of whether or not it will be brought to light in this life, or exposed in the next, we must recognize and understand that our response to iniquity and transgression—despite whether it is national or personal—should be and has always been that of acknowledgment and confession. We dare not and must not miss this particular reality, for the blessedness of transgression being forgiven and sin being covered comes only through acknowledgement before the LORD, and confession before Him in His sight and presence. There is not a doubt in my mind that during these days and during this time we are being brought face to face with the awesome reality that we are acknowledge and confess sins—not only our own personal sins, but also the sins of our nation. Perhaps some of the greatest demonstrations of this confession of the sins of a nation are found during the days of Ezra the priest, Nehemiah the cupbearer of the king of Persia, and Daniel the prophet of the LORD in the midst of Babylon. I am absolutely and completely convinced that during these days and during these times we are not only being brought face to face with our own personal and individual sins, but we are also being brought face to face with the sins of our nation—and perhaps even the sins of the nations. The LORD sought for a man who would stand in the gap, and who would make up the hedge that He might destroy the nation, and yet he could find none during the days of Ezekiel. There is not a doubt in my mind that the LORD is once more looking for a man to stand in the gap, and to make up the hedge in the midst of these days and times—those who will intercede on behalf of this nation, and those who will intercede on behalf of the nations of the earth. There is a great and tremendous need during these days and during these times to not only confess our personal sins and transgressions before the LORD, but also the sins of our nation, and the nations of the earth that perhaps the LORD would not only pardon and forgive transgression, but would also cover sin. Oh beloved there is a blessedness that surrounds forgiven transgression and covered sin, and yet we must be willing to heed the call of the LORD to not only acknowledge iniquity and transgression, but to also confess it before the LORD that He might truly “hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.” I leave you with the following words which were spoken by the LORD unto Solomon king of Israel: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).