The Great Cover Up (Psalm 32:1-5)
I am very cold natured. Tammy and RJ hate the temperature in the house, but CenterPoint loves it.
My cycling friends laugh at me. If it’s below 60, I show up to rides wearing a thermal bike kit with thick socks, thick thermal gloves, and a heavy face mask. Around Thanksgiving, it was in the 50’s when we started our ride, but meteorologists were calling for 60-plus degrees by the ride’s end. I arrived in my thermal gear, and a guy wearing a short-sleeve jersey and shorts, said, “Dude, you’re gonna burn up.” I chuckled, and said, “Man, you don’t know me very well, do you?”
If it’s chilly outside, I will be as covered up as possible.
I’m sure that at least some of you like to be covered up in chilly weather—a coat and gloves and scarf and hat. On a chilly evening, you might enjoy sitting in front of a fire, covered up with a thick blanket, and sipping hot cocoa. But, honestly, aren’t there other times you like to be covered up? Who hasn’t had the dream about going to work naked? Have you ever been in the shower when the doorbell rang? Have you ever been in town and seen people who needed to be wearing a lot more clothing?
David was also concerned with covering up, and in Psalm 32 he talked about “The Great Cover Up.” He wasn’t talking about an extra layer of clothes in chilly weather or grabbing a robe when you hop out of the shower. He discussed God’s great covering for sin.
It’s probable—although not certain—that David wrote this psalm after his sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah the Hittite. In Psalm 51, written soon after that sin, David penitently asked for God’s forgiveness. Psalm 32 was likely written well after that sin as David remembered his sin and God’s great forgiveness. Looking back, David recalled the overwhelming sense of joy he experienced, and he declared: “Divine covering of sin leads to bliss.”
Scripture (Psalm 32:1-5)
The one who has his sins covered is “blessed.” The Hebrews used two different words to describe being “blessed.” One word meant God bestowed the blessing, but not this word. Some translations render the word here as “happy.” That’s close, but not quite right; the Hebrew meant something like “bliss,” a greater emotion than simply being happy. Each time the Hebrew term is used, someone must do something positive to achieve bliss.
Who receives bliss according to Psalm 32? The one whose sins are forgiven. David used different words for “sin” and different metaphors for forgiveness; we don’t need to get bogged down in those different meanings—his point is clear: the one who receives forgiveness for sin receives bliss.
At the end of verse 2, David spoke of the one “in whose spirit there is no deceit.” In context, David didn’t mean someone who didn’t lie; rather David spoke about the one who does one of three things:
- He may speak of someone like Adam and Eve in the Garden who tries to lie to God and hide his sins.
- He may also speak of someone who lies to himself about his sin, someone who won’t acknowledge his sins even to himself.
- He may also speak of someone who hides his sins from other people, someone who lies to cover up his sins.
When David kept silent, his “bones wasted away,” and he groaned “all day long.” David poetically expressed the guilt he felt for his sin.
God’s hand was heavy upon David, and his “strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” The king here discussed experiencing God’s punishment for his sin. Scripture suggests that God providentially punishes sin in this life:
- About the Lord’s Supper, Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 11:29-32.
- Hebrews 12:5-11.
- “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19).
At first David had greatly covered up his sin. He called Uriah home from the front lines so he would sleep with Bathsheba; everyone would then think the child belonged to Uriah. Uriah had more integrity than his king and refused to do such a thing when his comrades in arms were at war. David then killed Uriah, married Bathsheba, and kept his sin secret.
David finally acknowledged his sin; instead of covering up his sins, David allowed God to cover his sin. When Nathan confronted the king, David simply replied, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Sam 12:13). Throughout Psalm 51, David acknowledged his sin. In this psalm, David acknowledged his sin.
When David confessed the sin in his heart, God forgave his iniquity.
“Divine covering of sin leads to bliss.” The Lord disciplined the king—David and Bathsheba’s child died, the sword never departed from his house, Absalom rebelled, and Absalom lay with David’s concubines on the palace’s roof. Yet, when David turned to God in repentance and confession, God forgave his sin and he found the bliss that comes from forgiveness.
How can you find the bliss in forgiveness? In other words, what must you do for God to cover your sins? You must understand that I’m speaking to the Christian here; I’m not speaking of the plan of salvation for alien sinners. For the child of God, this psalm provides an outline for how to find bliss through divine forgiveness.
Step One: Candor.
Blessed is in the one “in whose spirit there is no deceit.” The idea is that one hides his sin from God, from others, or from himself.
You cannot be like Adam and Eve. When confronted with his sin, Adam said to God, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate (Gen 3:12). When confronted with her sin, Eve said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen 3:13). Adam and Eve were not honest with God or themselves—they denied culpability and blamed others.
God sees your sin, but do you see your sin? Are there recesses in your heart you leave unexamined because you’re afraid of what you might find there? Do you make excuses for your sin? Do you tell yourself that your sins aren’t really a big deal?
Go back to your actions over the past several days. What sins did you commit? What actions did you rationalize? What Scriptures did you bend? Have complete Candor, and be honest with yourself.
Step Two: Consequences.
There are always consequences for sin; you need to see them for what they are. Sometimes, as in the case of David’s sin, innocent people suffer—Uriah was killed, David’s child died, and those concubines likely did not go willingly with Absalom and David made them live as widows until they died (2 Sam 20:3).
But in Psalm 32, David himself faced the consequences for sin: “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” (Ps 32:3-4).
You might be facing consequences for your own sin. “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb 12:5-6). Jesus told the church in Laodicea, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19). Someone has aptly said, “Everything happens for a reason, and sometimes the reason is you’re stupid.”
Think about what’s going wrong in your life. Be honest: Is God discipling your for your sin because he loves you so very much?
Step Three: Confession.
David confessed his sin to God: “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” (Ps 32:5).
You must confess your sins. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov 28:13). When great crowds came to John the Baptizer for immersion, they “were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mk 1:5). “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (Js 5:16). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:9).
Take a personal inventory. What sins do you see? What sins need to be confessed to God so God can cover them with his great grace? Might it be the case that you need to “[c]onfess your sins to one another” so that we might pray for you this morning?