Passage: Psalm 32
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
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If we want to know true happiness in life, then we need to experience the joy and freedom of being forgiven. In Psalm 32, David describes how to experience the joy of forgiveness, and the effects that forgiveness has on our lives.
First, we need to diagnose that our main problem in life is our guilt before God. The lack of vitality in David’s life was ultimately because of a breakdown in his relationship with God. Like a good surgeon, God presses down on David’s wound, until he finally realizes that his sin was at the heart of what was ailing him. Second, we need to “own” our guilt, through confessing it and forsaking it, rather than trying to cover over it ourselves. God chooses to forgive, or “cover,” those sins we’ve “uncovered” before him. Finally, we need not only to diagnose our guilt, and own it before God—we also need a whole new way of relating to God. In the final verses of the Psalm, David describes feeling surrounded by God’s love, as he joyfully instructs others to follow God freely and willingly, instead of being dragged along “like a horse or mule” with a bridle. Ultimately, this willingness to obey God comes from being convinced of God’s loving intentions towards us—intentions which God proved when he lifted the burden of our sin off of us, and carried it himself, in Christ.
- We Need to Diagnose the Problem of Guilt (vs. 1-4)
- We Need to Own Our Guilt Through Confession (vs. 5-7)
- We Need a New Way of Relating to God (vs. 8-11)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Psalm 32)
We Need to Diagnose the Problem of Guilt (vs. 1-4)
Q) Re-read verses 3-4. How does David describe what his life was like before he confessed his sin to God? What types of suffering did David experience when he “kept silent” about his sin?
Q) Have you ever experienced the negative effects of keeping quiet about a particular sin? What were they—physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially?
Q) Re-read verse 4. What was God’s role in leading David to confession? What do you think it means that God’s “hand was heavy upon” David? What does this tell us about God?
Q) Has God ever used a difficult situation in life to help you realize your sin and guilt before him? If so, how?
Q) Though not all of our suffering is because of our personal sin, all of our sin does bring some degree of suffering into our life. Is there someone in your life who is close to you, but far from Jesus—a family member, co-worker, neighbor, etc—who might benefit from hearing this perspective?
We Need to Own Our Guilt Through Confession (vs. 5-7)
Q) Re-read verse 5, where David finally acknowledges his sin before God. The opposite of acknowledging our sin to God is trying to “cover over it” ourselves. What are some ways people try to “cover over” their own sin? How do you most commonly try to “cover over” your own sin? (NOTE: The point here is to help us see just how many different ways we have of “covering over” our own sin—examples include outright denying it, blame-shifting, minimizing it by comparing it to others’ sins, rationalizing it, etc…)
Q) Re-read verses 6-7. How does God respond when we “offer prayers” (of confession) to him? What in God’s response is encouraging to you? (NOTE: You may wish to read Romans 2:4, as a cross reference).
Q) Pastor Bobby said that true repentance means not only “owning” our sins through confession, but also forsaking them as well—having “a concrete determination to abandon our sin.” Why do you think forsaking our sin is so important to experiencing the joy of forgiveness?
Q) Is there a sin in your life that you have confessed many times, but have trouble actually forsaking? What would forsaking this sin look like? What would motivate you to do it?
We Need a New Way of Relating to God (vs. 8-11)
Q) Re-read verses 8-11. Fresh off the joy of being forgiven, David turns and counsels others to follow God willingly, rather than stubbornly. What images does David use to illustrate following God stubbornly?
Q) Have you ever “been like a horse or a mule” in your Christian life, stubbornly resisting God’s leading in your life?
Q) What needs to change in our belief about God, in order for us to follow him joyfully and willingly, rather than grudgingly? How does the gospel help with this change?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.