The Joy of Forgiveness

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Ps. 32:1–2).

- Psalm 32

Any discussion of true repentance could not be complete without examining the joy of forgiveness that flows from such contrition. Today we will analyze Psalm 32, a text that clearly displays the assurance of those who have found God’s pardon.

David begins his song with a declaration of blessedness on those who have been forgiven (v. 1). To be absolved of one’s guilt is to enter the realm of the Lord’s favor, and thus we must never forget the benefits of being in right relation to the Creator. The king speaks of his sin as “covered.” “Covering” is one image often used in Scripture for salvation. God’s first act of grace after the fall, for example, was to provide clothes to cover the shame of our first parents (Gen. 3:21).

Related to the idea of redemptive covering is the vital concept of imputation. To impute means to declare, or to count, something to someone’s record. On the old covenant Day of Atonement, the high priest would lay hands on the scapegoat as a way to impute, or place the sin of the penitent on the animal so that it would no longer be on the people (Lev. 16:20–22). We are justified by Christ in that, by faith alone, our sins are imputed to Him for judgment on Calvary. His righteousness is then imputed to our record (2 Cor. 5:21). Another way to describe this reality is to say the Lord no longer counts (imputes) iniquity to us, just as David expresses in Psalm 32:2.

Ultimately, forgiveness rescues us from the flood of God’s wrath. David alludes to this truth in his use of the metaphors “dried up” and “rush of great waters” in verses 4–6. Because of its arid climate, Palestine has many wadis, or seasonal rivers. During the wet season, rain flows down the mountains and produces many flowing streams. But during the dry season, these river beds will dry out, creating parched, cracked riverbeds. At the beginning of the subsequent rainy season, flash floods can occur in these wadis when the water suddenly pours down from the sky and rushes into the dry channels.

Without pardon, our souls are dried up and subject to the waters of divine judgment (v. 4). But when we repent, the Lord saves us from being drowned in the flood of His anger (vv. 5–6).

Coram Deo

We can stand in right relationship to God only if the perfect obedience of Christ is put on our record. If this has happened, the Lord no longer counts sin against us. At the conclusion of our study of repentance, let us never forget the foundational truth that we are blessed if we have turned from our sin and have sought forgiveness in Jesus. If you have repented, you have been set free by the Spirit and can look forward to more blessings now and in the age to come.

Passages for Further Study

Ps. 124
Isa. 55:6–7
Jer. 50:20
Matt. 5:3; 26:26–29

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343