The Joy of Restored Fellowship
by Dennis Michelson
Joy of presiding at my son's wedding
Introduction: The Psalm was written by David following his genuine confession of sin found in Psalm 51. Remember, the Psalms are arranged in logical order, not chronological. David had gone down about as far as a man could go with adultery, murder and deceit.
Proverbs 28:13 states "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." This Psalm shows us how to move from a severe spiritual drought to a sincere joyful shout. If the shout has died out in your church maybe there are some fellowship issues which need to be addressed.
1. Conviction From God (32:1-4)
After stating the absolute blessedness of the man who has been forgiven, David recounts how painful the conviction was when God confronted him with his sin. The description is almost a textbook listing of criteria for depression and anxiety - "my bones waxed old" . . ."day and night thy hand was heavy upon me" ..."my moisture is turned into the drought of summer".
Much of my ministry these days is spent counseling people with mental health and addiction issues. Spiritual depression seems to be at an all-time high with professing believers. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote about this years ago in his classic book entitled Spiritual Depression.
In many cases - especially in the lives of believers - they do not need medication or therapy but they need to come clean with God. The hounds of heaven pursuing the guilty conscience can chase us to the point of despair.
2. Confession to God (32:5)
His acknowledgment in this verse is the same as the "confession" of I John 1:9. Study the terms carefully and you will see that it is important to say the same thing about your problem as God says. The word in I John is homolegeo and it literally means "same word."
Do not call it a sickness if God calls it a sin! Do not replace the cross with a couch! It is sad but many people go to a counselor as a defense mechanism to avoid honest confession to God.
3. Compassion of God (32:6-7)
The phrase "in a time when thou mayest be found" seems to imply that there might be a time when He may not be found. The old Rabbi used to say the best day to get right with God is the the day before you die. In verse 7 David goes from hiding from God to hiding in God. He can do this since he has come clean about his sin and fellowship has been restored.
4. Correction by God (32:8-9)
My mother used to correct me by just looking at me. The Lord says here "I will guide thee with mine eye." This kind of correction is far less painful than when we become as stubborn as a mule (verse 9).
5. Conclusion about God (32:10-11)
Mercy in verse 10 is when God withholds from us what we justly deserve. Instead of destruction, God gives us correction. The Puritans used to preach about "kissing the rod." We need to learn that God desires our close fellowship and will even inflict pain on us and mental sorrow in order to achieve restoration and joy.
The Psalm ends with a triumphant tristich in the Hebrew...
Be glad in the Lord . . .
Rejoice . . .
Shout for Joy . . .
all ye that are upright in heart.
When you - and the people to whom you minister - realize just how blessed they are - then they will no longer be silent in their witness or their worship. Sometimes fundamentalists are guilty of shooting their own wounded.
King David would have probably been kicked to the curb today. The full realization of great mercy will result in abundant joy - especially when you thought that your best days were behind you.
Conclusion: The heading for this Psalm says "A Psalm of David - Maschil." That means it is designed to teach and instruct. For those who believe God can never again use them then David instructs them otherwise. It is very similar to Peter's restoration in the New Testament when the Lord told him "when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren." What a gracious and merciful God we serve.
"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 be converted unto thee."
-- Psalm 51:12-13