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A searching, fearless moral inventory

July 11, 2022

Daily Scripture

Psalm 32:1-7, 51:10-12

Psalm 32

1 The one whose wrongdoing is forgiven,
whose sin is covered over, is truly happy!
2 The one the Lord doesn’t consider guilty—
in whose spirit there is no dishonesty—
that one is truly happy!
3 When I kept quiet, my bones wore out;
I was groaning all day long–
every day, every night!—
4 because your hand was heavy upon me.
My energy was sapped as if in a summer drought.
5 So I admitted my sin to you;
I didn’t conceal my guilt.
“I’ll confess my sins to the Lord,” is what I said.
Then you removed the guilt of my sin.
6 That’s why all the faithful should pray to you during troubled times,
so that a great flood of water won’t reach them.
7 You are my secret hideout!
You protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of rescue!

Psalm 51

10 Create a clean heart for me, God;
put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!
11 Please don’t throw me out of your presence;
please don’t take your holy spirit away from me.
12 Return the joy of your salvation to me
and sustain me with a willing spirit.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Step 4 in a 12-step program is “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” That idea has strong Biblical roots. Israel’s King David found himself in a tangled moral situation that just kept getting worse (cf. 2 Samuel 11:1 – 12:13). When his friend and ally, the prophet Nathan, called out what he had done, David did not shrink from a searching, fearless inventory. Psalms 32 and 51 seem to clearly reflect the thought process by which he restored his life to God’s purposes.

  • Verses 3-5 of Psalm 32 reflect the reality we sometimes express with the phrase “the coverup is worse than the original offense.” Most of us have experienced in some way (though maybe not for anything quite as huge as David’s failure) of “when I kept quiet, my bones wore out.” Have you also ever experienced the relief and lightening of your load verse 5 described? Is there anything in your life right now that you need to come to grips with honestly?
  • For centuries, God’s people have used the prayer from Psalm 51 as a model of honest, serious prayer for renewed life. “God has the ability to create and re-create, activities associated elsewhere with God’s spirit (see Genesis 1:2). The threefold repetition of spirit suggests that new life is possible for the forgiven sinner.” * What makes it important that a “searching, fearless moral inventory” lead to hope for new life, not hopelessness?

Lord Jesus, by your Spirit lead me to be honest with myself and with you. And then by your Spirit lead me to the hope of a renewed, purified way of life. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe & his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 & were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew & Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

(There are lots of vacations happening at Resurrection this summer. Darren wrote this post for us in October 2016, but it fits today’s Scripture readings well.)

The 32nd Psalm is credited to King David in the aftermath of his less than stellar actions during the whole Bathsheba/Uriah soap opera. David writes this Psalm as guidance for those who, like him, might have fallen a bit short of God’s expectations. David offers his confession in verses 3-5, he applies his circumstances to our own state of affairs in verses 6-7, and in verses 1-2 offers the beautiful benediction found in our passage.

Aside: I’ve long thought it would be so cool if, ala the Dead Sea Scrolls, some Bedouin found some clay jars with the accompanying music to the Psalms inside. How might the music help us better comprehend the tranquility of the 23rd Psalm or marvel at the majesty of the 98th Psalm? (Sadly, the music would probably be part of a transcript of some talent show called “Israelite Idol.”)

David opens with the word “blessed” (or “truly happy”). When you read that word, a smile should begin to form on your face-–this is a condition of overflowing joy that is beyond earthly explanation. Biblically, blessedness meant almost a state of giddiness that overtakes our whole demeanor.

What has caused this profoundly happy state? David explained with the phrase, “whose wrongdoing is forgiven, whose sin is covered over.” The Hebrew word for forgiveness can mean to “carry out of sight.” Perhaps we can picture God boxing up our sins/iniquities & Jesus volunteering to haul them away for us. This old junk, which has been cluttering our everyday lives for years to the point we can barely function, is now stowed away, never to be seen or referenced again. The Psalm suggests there is a sense of a heavy burden being lifted, or a delightfully surprising clean bill of health, or a jail-cell door left ajar. We are free!

So what might we do with this understanding of the 32nd Psalm? Our Jewish friends celebrate Yom Kippur yearly. This Day of Atonement is set aside to ask God for His forgiveness for transgressions that occurred the previous year. (Interestingly, scholars suggest that the 32nd Psalm was frequently sung during this ancient worship service.)

What if we set aside today as our own Day of Atonement? We could thank God for the love He so generously demonstrated with the sacrifice of His Son on the cross. We could pause & ask Him to forgive us of our many mistakes. We could promise to seriously work with God to change our ways to minimize our miscues. We could then accept, without reservation, His grace & forgiveness & boldly begin the day absolutely blessed, truly happy.

Absent the original accompanying music, I offer this tuneful conclusion to help us imagine the uplifting spirit of our Psalm: I know God wants to Take a Chance on Me. That there Ain’t No Mountain High Enough that can hold back His love. That the Bare Necessities of life include the Godly Good Vibrations that come with His forgiveness. So we can finally Celebrate, be Feelin’ Groovy, & realize What a Wonderful World God has made.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* J. Clinton McCann, Jr., study note on Psalm 51:10 in The CEB Study Bible (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013), p. 897 OT.