The one thing we relentlessly strive to obtain so often eludes us: happiness. Yet in His Word, God has repeatedly promised to give His people unspeakable joy both now and forever more.
Psalm 32 begins with one of these promises:
“Blessed (happy) is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed (happy) is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity” (Psalm 32: 1-2).
My Christian friend, the path to unshakable, everlasting joy is revealed here. Happiness is yours for the taking, today and every day. I believe that God is more willing and able to bestow upon us the bliss of forgiveness than we are to receive it.
The gift of God’s happiness is but a thought away. We only need to reflect on the divine miracle of His pardoning mercy, made possible by the death of Jesus Christ, and we can experience happiness at any time and in any situation.
Let’s do that right now, shall we?
The Scope of Forgiveness
David uses three different Hebrew words to describe the comprehensive scope of God’s forgiveness: transgression, sin and iniquity (ESV).
The first word, “transgression,” speaks of our rebellion, that inclination to revolt against our Creator, that stubborn refusal to love and obey Him. We’re wired to say “Not your will, but mine, be done.”
The second word, “sin,” conveys the idea of missing the mark. No matter how hard we try to measure up to God’s standard of perfection, we fail, and we fail miserably. As Paul writes, we all “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
And the third word, “iniquity,” communicates the vileness of human nature. In thought, word and deed, we regularly commit perverse acts of depravity.
David wants us to know that God forgives it all. No matter the size, shape or color of our evil ways, God forgives us. There is nothing we can do which is too bad for God to forgive.
Is this not reason for incredible happiness!
The Nature of Forgiveness
Let’s not overlook what the word “forgive” means. Here in Psalm 32 David uses a word that means to lift up, to take away, to carry off. God offers to lift the burden of sin off our backs. He wants to remove the barrier of our iniquity, for it stands in the way of a reconciled relationship with Him.
Scripture is filled with verses that tell us what God does with forgiven sin. “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
But how can the Holy One, who hates sin and therefore must punish it, do such a thing? This is only possible, of course, because Jesus took our sin and its penalty upon Himself when He died on the cross. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
The work of Jesus has paid the eternal penalty of sin that hangs over our head from the day we were born. “God only forgives what’s been paid for” (John Barnett).
Rejoice, believer, rejoice!
The Source of Forgiveness
How is any of this possible? What did we do to deserve such compassion? Nothing, of course. If we got what we deserved, we’d all be in hell right now. Instead, because of the mercy of our heavenly Father and His obedient Son, “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
It is God’s amazing grace that makes forgiveness possible. When God poured out His wrath on Jesus, His justice was satisfied and His kindness was revealed in all its glory.
David reminds us that God’s tender mercies are the ground and basis of His forgiveness: “Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD” (Psalm 32:10).
The Condition of Forgiveness
Yet God does not shower everyone with such bliss. Only those who demonstrate godly sorrow and genuine repentance receive God’s pardon. David is quite clear about this.
“I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover up my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
Yes, the happiness of forgiveness comes only to those who tread the path of contrition and brokenness. This is yet another paradoxical manifestation of the gospel’s saving power: forgiveness is received by those who are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
Regularly, even daily, the believer both mourns over his sin and rejoices over God’s forgiveness. This is the way of divine happiness. This is God’s path to bliss.
With the scope, nature, source and condition of forgiveness in mind, David exhorts us to experience ultimate happiness: “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11).
Yes, forgiveness bring blessing in abundance, for the word “blessed” is in the plural, providing the believer with “double joys . . . bundles of happiness . . . mountains of delight!” (Charles Spurgeon).
My friend, do you know this happiness? Have you climbed these mountains? Today, and every day, I pray that you’ll confess your sins, meditate on God’s forgiveness and receive the joy that only Jesus can give.
Be forgiven. Be happy. Be well.
NOTE: for more thoughts on the Psalms, click here.