Psalm 32 opens with a blessing (v 1&2) and ends with a call to be glad in the Lord – to rejoice and shout for joy (v 11). It is therefore quite a surprise to realise that the Psalm is about sin. Well, not really, for the Psalm is actually about the forgiveness of sin. And that is indeed a blessed experience and reason for joy. How wonderful to know that the burden of carrying our own alienation from God and brokenness has been removed!
The psalmist uses a mixture of story telling, prayer, comforting and summoning to invite us to confess our sin and to experience the wonder of forgiveness of sin. Therefore the psalmist points out the dangers of keeping silent (v 3), of hiding your sin (cf v 5) and of being obstinate (v 9). This is psychologically damaging and spiritually depriving.
Break the silence! Speak out! Confess your sin! Do not be afraid, for our God is a merciful God who forgives all our sins.
For this reason Christ died on the cross and rose again, adds the New Testament.
While Psalm 32 encourages the individual to not keep silent but to confess his/her sin, it also challenges the congregation to offer the environment where such a confession will be acceptable and the confessor will be embraced and blessed (cf v 1)! “Individual confession and forgiveness are truly matters of community concern and benefit,” writes Howard Wallace.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,” says Maya Angelou. The sad truth we learn from the HIV pandemic is that there are too many Christians living with HIV who bear their untold stories inside them because they are afraid of how their congregation may react.
The gathering of Christ’s followers should be a place where confessions can be made. Where stories can be shared and the burdens of carrying secrets can be unloaded. Stories, not only of personal sin, but also of the brokenness of the world we live in and of baring the brunt of other people’s sins.
To think about or discuss: What can you or your congregation do to reach out and help people carrying around untold stories inside them?
Author: N du Toit (Ds)