July 07, 2019

Rev. Mark F. Bartels



Old Testament Lesson; 2 Samuel 11:26-12:10

                                      2 Samuel 12:13-15

Gospel Lesson; Luke 7:36-50                            

Sermon Text; Psalm 32


Alright.  I am going to throw you a 'little, curve ball' this morning.  About a month ago, I thought I was going to preach on the Galatians text.  However, since then, I decided I want to preach on what is called, The Psalm of the Day.  Today's Psalm is Psalm 32.  It ties in so well with The Old Testament Lesson, David confessing his sin before Nathan, and being forgiven.  And, the Gospel Lesson…the woman who was so thankful she was forgiven that she washed Jesus' feet with her tears. 

Psalm 32 is the assigned psalm for today.  Psalm 32, was written by King David.  It is considered a psalm that is to be instructive.  The psalms were either to be used by the church corporately, and they are also to be used individually.  Today we are going to use it corporately.

I am going to read through the psalm, and tell you the context.  We all know the two, terrible sins David committed.  David committed adultery with Bathsheba.  Subsequently, he murdered Bathsheba's husband to try to cover up his sin. 

There was a period of time where David did not deal with his guilt.  He didn't confess it.  He acted like it was not there.  That is called, “unresolved guilt” or, “unconfessed sin”.  That is what this psalm deals with. 

This is God's Word, taken from Psalm 32. 

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven,

whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man whose iniquity

the Lord does not count against him.

When I kept silent,

your hand was heavy upon me. 

My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

Then, I acknowledged my sin to you

and did not cover up my iniquity. 

I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord. 

And, you forgave the guilt of my sins. 

You are my hiding place. 

You will protect me from trouble. 

Many are the woes of the wicked,

but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds those who trust Him.


These are you words, Heavenly father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote this psalm.  It is intended to be instructive, and personally used by you.  So, we are going to personalize this psalm today.  In order to personalize it, I am going to use a bag.  Let's imagine this bag has a sin of yours in it.  Think of the worst sin you have ever committed. 

What if I said, “I am about to hit 'send' on an email, and reveal to everybody what is inside this bag, so they could see it. 

How would you feel about that?  I sure would not want people to know what is in my bag of sin. 

So, let's say this bag of sin is your sin.  Let's say you haven't confessed that sin to the Lord.  Let's say it is just sitting here, and you have not dealt with it, yet. 

What happens then?  What happens when you don't confess your sins?  David said, “I kept silent...”  In other words, he didn't confess his sin. 

When we don't confess our sins, here is what happens.  I am going to use a coat to cover it up.  We try to cover up our sin so that we don't see it, the Lord doesn't see it, and nobody knows it is there. 

That is exactly what David tried to do.  David had committed these two, terrible sins.  He had committed the sin of adultery, and then murder.  Then, he tried to cover them up, and act in his own life, as if they never happened, as if God, Himself, did not even know they happened.

Now, how in the world could David avoid his own guilt like that?  How could he pretend it was not there?  How could he pretend it didn't happen, and for maybe as long as a year, didn't address his own guilt?  He had what we call, “unconfessed sin” or, “unresolved guilt”. 

Well, David did it the same way we do.  How do we avoid guilt, or avoid confession of unresolved sin?  We do it in either two ways. 

-We can “rationalize our sin” to ourselves, and we act like it doesn't really exist.  We cover it up. 

For example, we may say to ourselves, “Well, yeah, I get drunk too much, but I am dealing with so much stress, so many troubles, people are putting so much pressure on me that I have to do that.”  We rationalize it, as if it is not really a problem. 

Maybe somebody says, “Yeah, I look at pornography, but it doesn't hurt anybody.  I am a red blooded male/female.”  We cover it up, as if it doesn't exist, as if it wasn't really there.'

Maybe somebody says to themselves, “Yeah, we are living together outside of marriage, but we can't afford to do it any other way.”  So, they cover it up, and rationalize it, as if it doesn't exist.

Maybe somebody says, “Yeah, I lose my temper all of the time, but hey, that is my personality type.  That is just the way I am.”

So, we can try to rationalize our sin, and cover up the guilt, but you know what?  It is still there.  It is not gone.  It is still there.

David probably tried to rationalize his guilt.  He probably thought to himself, “Look, I am the king of Israel.  I am under a lot of stress.  People have no idea of what I have to deal with, decisions I have to make, the pressure I am under.  Yeah, I had to relieve my stress a little bit, so yeah, I maybe did something that wasn't totally right.” 

He must have rationalized it to himself. 

Then, when he had Uriah killed, he must have rationalized that to himself, and thought, “OK, what if Uriah found out his wife was pregnant from me, the king?  That could have been a political disaster.  That could have destroyed the kingdom.  So, for the sake of protecting the kingdom, yeah I had to commit murder.” 

So, he rationalized it.  He didn't confess it.  He didn't deal with it.  He just rationalized it, and tried to cover it up.  But, it didn't take away the guilt.  It was still there.

-Another way we try to cover up our own guilt, without dealing with it, is what we call, “blaming”, or “excusing ourselves by blaming somebody else”. 

We may say, “Yeah, I lost my temper, but it is your fault.  You knew what buttons to push to make me lose my temper.” 

It doesn't take away the guilt.  It just tries to cover it up, and give some excuse for why I did it.

Or, “Yeah, I had an affair.  But, you weren't giving me the attention you should have been giving me.” 

We try to cover it up and put the blame on someone else.  But it doesn't take away the guilt.

Or, “Yeah, I have a problem with drinking, or drugs.  But, it is your fault, because you put too much pressure on me.  My life is too difficult.  I have to deal with it with drugs or alcohol.” 

It is just covering up our guilt, but it doesn't take it away.

Maybe David blamed Bathsheba.  Maybe he said, “It was her fault.  She should not have been taking a bath on her roof, knowing I could see her.”

Whatever it was, we know David was silent for maybe as long as a year.  He didn't confess those sins to God.  And, something began to happen to David. 

Here is what happens, when we deal with what we call, “unresolved guilt”, and “unconfessed sin”.  We talk about our sins punishing us in eternity.  But even here in time, even here in time our sins can begin to bring real problems in our lives.  In David's case it began to bring emotional, physical, and spiritual problems in his life, when he tried to cover up his sins, and hide them.  In Psalm 32 he says:

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away

through my groaning all day long. 

Your hand was heavy upon me. 

My strength was sapped,

as in the heat of summer.”

Did you know that if you were even to read modern day psychology, like Psychology Today, it says one of the effects of “unresolved guilt” is it effects you physically. 

-Physically, people who are dealing with “unresolved guilt” often report they literally feel heavier, bodily heavier than people who don't feel guilty. 

-People who are dealing with “unresolved guilt” literally feel like physical tasks are harder to do than people who are not dealing with guilt.  So, when King David says,

“My strength was sapped, as in the heat of summer...”,

he is describing exactly what can happen when we just leave this guilt unresolved.  It can begin to eat away at us, physically. 

-We even know, physically, when you are dealing with guilt, it can bring all kinds of stress, and tension in your life, which can bring all kinds of all kinds of physical troubles to you. 

-People who are dealing with “unresolved guilt” can even begin to harm themselves physically, because they are struggling, their conscious is struggling with this guilt. 

So, it can really weigh us down, physically. 

“Unresolved guilt” can weigh us down emotionally.  King David said,

“I was groaning all day long.”

It is like this snooze alarm that keeps going off over, and over, again.  It keeps waking up your conscious.  Your conscious knows there is something you should be dealing with, something you should be resolving.  It is there all day long.  This groaning all day long is an emotionally guilty conscious that is struggling.  It can cause us to act out in certain ways. 

-We can be irritable toward other people because, “I have not resolved my own guilt.”

-It can cause us to try to avoid other people, because they might bring up my guilt. 

So, it can bring all kinds of emotional trouble in our lives.

Then, worst of all it can bring spiritual troubles in to our lives.  David says,

“Your hand

(talking about God)

your hand was heavy upon me.” 

As long as David didn't resolve his guilt, he felt God's hand, as if God's hand was pushing down on him, as if God was oppressing him.  It probably caused David to avoid God. 

“I don't want to go to church, because they might talk about my sin at church.”  “I am not going to open up the Bible, because if I open up the Bible, I might have to confront my own sin.”  

So, this unresolved guilt was causing all kinds of difficult, difficult problems in David's life.

Finally, Nathan the prophet came to David.  The Holy Spirit convicted David of his sins.  David realized, “I am tired of trying to cover up my own guilt.  I am trying to hide it, and pretend it is not there.  That is not a blessing to me, whatsoever.”  He confessed his sins to the Lord.  

“I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,

and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”

Now, I want you to see what happened.  David took his sin, and said, “I am not hiding it, anymore.  I am going to confess it.”  To 'confess' means to 'agree with'.  So, I am going to agree with God it is a problem that I have been committing sin.  That is something all of us want to do every day of our lives – confess our sins, whatever they are.  He said,

“When I confess my transgressions to the Lord,

you forgave my guilt.”  

Now I am going to take you back up to the top of the Psalm.  All of a sudden, instead of feeling overwhelmed, and oppressed by his own sin, David talks about being blessed.  Martin Luther once said,

“Don't waste your time trying to deny your sins.” 

There is a little proverb that says,

“Confession is good for the soul.”

David confessed his sin.  He stopped wasting his time trying to hide it, and deny it.  He confessed it to the Lord.  He confessed it to Nathan, the prophet, who on behalf of the Lord, announced forgiveness to David.

I am going to take you back up to the top of the Psalm.  King David talks about sin in three different ways, and then he talks about forgiveness in three different ways to show how completely sinful we are, and yet how completely forgiven we are, and what an awesome blessing it is to be completely forgiven!

First of all he says,

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven.” 

The word for 'transgression' there is a word that probably means 'rebel'.  A rebel is somebody who willingly knows, “I don't like your rules.  I don't like your laws, and I am going to go against them.” 

David says,

“Blessed is the man whose transgressions are forgiven.” 

The word 'forgiven' there means 'carried away'.  It means 'somebody else carries them away'. 

Blessed is the man who knows, “My transgressions have been picked up, and carried away” (by who?) “by the Lord.  He has carried them away.”  

When did that happen?  That happened when they were laid on Jesus.  Jesus took them to the cross, and He carried away all of my sins, and my guilt is gone.  Blessed is the person who knows that.  That brings joy and happiness to our heart. 

David goes on and says,

“Blessed is the man whose sins are covered.”

The word there for 'sin' means, 'I have missed the mark.  I missed the target.  I have not done what God wanted me to do.  I have fallen short.'  We all have fallen short.  He said,

“Blessed is the man whose sins are covered.” 

They are not covered with our own excuses.  They are not covered with our own rationalization.  That can never take away our guilt.  So, how are sins covered?  It is only when God covers our sins. 

What does He cover them with?  He covers them with the blood of His own Son.  God has taken our sins, put them on Jesus.  Jesus died on the cross, and that blood covers up our sins, so that God, Himself, the all-seeing God says, “I don't see your sins.  I don't see them.  They are not there.  It is covered up.” 

Talk about  being blessed, and happy.

Then, he says,

“Blessed is the man

whose iniquity the Lord does not count against him.”  

The word 'iniquity' there is a word for 'going down a crooked, kind of devious path'.  It reminds us, “Yes, I go down crooked, devious paths.  I try to hide things from other people.  They don't know what I am doing.  And, I think maybe God doesn't even know what I am doing.” 

“Blessed is the man

whose iniquity the Lord doesn't count against him.”  

The Lord could have a check list, with all of the times I have sinned against Him, but the Lord doesn't count it against me.  There is no check mark there. 

Why?  Because the Lord has counted my sins against Jesus.  They belong to Jesus.  He paid for them.  And, the Lord sees no sin.  It is covered up.  It is carried away.  It is gone.  That is the blessing that comes, when we confess our sin.  We don't try to hide it.  We don't try to cover it up.  We don't try to deny it.  We just confess it to the Lord, and seek His forgiveness.  That forgiveness comes freely, through Christ.

This is why in The Lutheran Church, “Confession and Absolution” is a big deal here.  On Sunday mornings, when you come, and confess your sins, you are not trying to hide them.  You are not trying to cover them up.  You are just saying, “I don't want those.  I don't want to cover them up.  I don't want to hide them.  I don't want to deal with all of that guilt.”  We are asking the Lord to take them away.

When the pastor announces “Absolution”, just like Nathan absolved David, the pastor is just announcing a given fact that Jesus wants you to know.  He wants you to know those sins are gone, carried away, taken away.  And what blessedness, and happiness that brings in our lives. 

I want to end with this little story.  It deals with confession and absolution.  It is a story I believe Martin Luther told once.  The parable involves a king.  (I will give you a heads up.  The King is Jesus.)  It involves some servants.  (The servants happen to stand for pastors who speak just what Jesus tells them to speak.)  Then, there are citizens.  (The citizens are us.)  Here is how the parable goes.

There was a King, a great King, a wonderful King.  He had a whole bunch of citizens in His Kingdom.  And, He took care of them.  Everything was great.  Everything went well, and they had everything they wanted.

Then, one day the citizens began to grumble.  They began to say to themselves, “We don't need this King.  We don't need to live with Him.  Things would be better if we weren't with Him.” 

So, they talked themselves into leaving the Kingdom.  The city gates opened up, and closed behind them, as they walked out of the city. 

They all went out to the country, and started to live their lives, however they wanted to, without the King.

The longer they were away from Him, though, the worse things got.  They began to run out of food.  They began to run out of clothes.  They began to get sick.  And, some of them started to die.  There was nothing they could do.

Finally, they all got together, and said, “There is only one thing we can do.  We have to go back to the King.  We need to confess to Him that we blew it, and ask Him if He will forgive us.”

So, they all got together, and headed back to the Kingdom.  The city, this walled city, had a big gate, with doors.  They knocked on the door, “Boom, Boom, Boom”. 

The door opened up, “Squeak”.

When they looked, they could see the King.  He was standing up in a balcony.  His servants were standing there with Him. 

They thought, “I wonder what He is going to do?”

As they walked into the city, all of a sudden, the doors shut behind them.  “Boom.”

They looked up at the King, and they didn't know what He was going to do.  They said, “We are sorry that we rebelled against you.  Will you please forgive us?”

The King looked at His servants, and nodded to them. 

All the servants bent over.  They were behind the balcony, so nobody could see what they were doing.  The citizens thought they were getting some weapons, or something. 

Then, the King nodded to the servants, and they all stood up.  They began to throw gold coins at the citizens! 

The people saw the gold coins falling down toward them, and began to catch them, and grab them.  They were so happy, because they knew, “He has forgiven us!  He has taken us back in!”

(That is like coming to church, confessing your sins, and the pastor announcing what Jesus wants you to know, that great news,

“Your sins are forgiven!” 

That makes happy hearts.)

Now, there was one man way off in the distance, but the King could still see him.  That man, way off in the distance, had his head down, and would not catch any of the gold coins, nor pick up any of them.  He was just letting those gold coins fall all around him.

The King turned toward one of the servants, and said, “See that man, way in the back who is not catching any of the gold coins, the one who has his head down?  Who is he?”

The servants said, “That is is the leader of the rebellion.  He probably thinks you would never want him to have one of those coins, and you would never forgive him.”

The King looked at His servants, and reached down to pick up a gold coin.  He put it in the servant's hand, and said, “I want you to take that coin, and run all the way back there, to that man.  I want you to press that coin in his hand, and tell him that it is his.”
So, the servant took the coin, ran all the way to that man, this rebel, held the coin out to the rebel, and said, “Here.  The King wants you to have this.”
The rebel says, “No way.  There is no way the King would want me to be forgiven.  I started this whole rebellion, so there is no way He would want me to have that coin.”
The servant pried that man's hand open, put the coin in it, and pushed the man's hand closed.  He said, “The King told me to come, and put this in your hand.  It is yours.”
If there is anybody here today, anybody, who feels like you have some guilt the Lord won't forgive, today I want you to know: 

If I could I would walk right up to you, on behalf of Jesus, 'pry your hand open', and announce to you, “You are absolved.  You are absolved!  Your sins are forgiven!”  That is the blessedness.  That is why scripture says,

“Blessed is he whose sins are forgiven.”

God grant that to all of us, for Jesus' sake.