Conviction – Repentance – Forgiveness – Submission

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

Read: Psalm 32:1-11

Consider: When reading Psalm 32 were you struck by how it maps out the road to faith and the life of faith? Although the psalmist starts the psalm speaking of forgiveness, this has not been the beginning of his journey to faith, nor is it the end. He says: Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit (Psalm 32:1-2). At this stage we don’t know if the psalmist is speaking generally, or specifically about himself.

In Psalm 32:3-4 the psalmist tells us that his journey to faith began with him being convicted of his own sinfulness. The language used speaks of the turmoil a person goes through to be brought to the point where they are prepared to seek God’s forgiveness. Conviction is not something that is preached on very often today, yet it is a vital step on the road to believing in God. Listen to the language he uses: ‘… my bones wasted away …’, ‘… groaning all day long …’, ‘… your hand was heavy on me …’ and ‘… my strength was sapped …’ These phrases all speak of the anguish the psalmist was going through to bring him to the point where he was prepared to seek God’s forgiveness.

Thankfully God does not leave us to permanently suffer the weight of guilt for our sin. He offers a solution and this brings us to the next step, that of repentance. In Psalm 32:5 we read: Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’. And you forgave the guilt of my sin. ┬áRepentance means acknowledging your sinfulness and bringing it out into the open before God. Repentance also involves turning away from sin and turning towards God. It is at this point that forgiveness comes into effect. Can you see that while God’s offer of salvation is always available, its effects can only be realised in the life of the individual when they seek God’s forgiveness for themselves.

Notice that having turned away from sin and sought God’s forgiveness, the psalmist’s story does not end there. The tone of the psalm changes and God speaks directly to him in these words: I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you (v8). You might think this is now the end, but no. Reading what is said next in the psalm might at first seem confusing, as it says: Do not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you (v9). This speaks of the submission that is necessary in the everyday life of the believer. God wants us to submit to him in every aspect of our lives.

Psalm 32 speaks clearly of the road to faith, but also the life of faith. Coming to faith and living out our faith involves conviction, repentance, forgiveness and submission. Having submitted to God the psalmist can say: Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart (Psalm 32:11).

Pray: Father, we thank you that you brought us through conviction of our sinfulness, to repentance, finally seeking your forgiveness. May we rejoice in you; willingly submitting to your teaching and instruction. Amen

Every blessing