Forgiveness: The Name of the Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 32.

Open up just about any commentary on Psalm 32 and you’ll find an explanation of the three terms used to describe lawlessness: transgression, iniquity, sin (in the ESV). After distinguishing the three, most commentators will go on to say the distinctions really don’t matter. This threefold description is simply supposed to prompt us to recognize sin in completeness and in all its forms can be forgiven. I have no doubt that is true. But I wonder if we are missing the real point in this triumvirate description of lawless behavior.

What really makes these three terms stand out is they are exactly the terms used when Yahweh revealed the full meaning of His name to Moses:

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.

Exodus 34:6-7

Psalm 32, like so many other psalms, is a meditation on the name of the Lord. It is a meditation with application. Let’s think of it this way. Having read Psalm 1, you can imagine why someone might keep silent about their sins. They might hope if they are silent about them, they won’t get noticed. They definitely don’t want to attract attention to all those moments when they stood in the way of the sinners, do they?

Yet, when I know Yahweh’s name, I will be clamoring to confess to Him. His very name is Forgiveness. I don’t have to hide my lawlessness. He is the God of mercy and grace, of steadfast love and covenant faithfulness. I don’t have to fear that if I uncover my sins, He will hang on to them forever. It’s in His very name, His very nature to cast those sins away from me. Praise the Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 32.


Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

A Word for Our Kids

Hey kids, that final line of vs. 2 is somewhat confusing. It almost sounds like the only person who gets forgiven is the one who has never deceived. Right off the bat, we can know that must not be the point. After all, David, the one who is praising God for forgiveness, deceived. He tried to cover up his immorality with Bathsheba by bringing her husband home under false pretenses. He then had him killed by sending him back to the battlefront under more false pretenses.

So, what does that line mean?

If the lack of deceit is a condition to the forgiveness, it would have to do with the honesty and sincerity in the confession that is talked about in vs. 5. That is, the person quits trying to deceive God about their sin. That frees God to forgive their sin.

However, there is another possibility. Rather than a condition of forgiveness, it might be the consequence of forgiveness. Because the person has been forgiven, the person becomes one in whom is no deceit. The slate is clean. The soul becomes pure. The person is now marked by the sincerity and honesty that only the forgiven can truly have. Through confession and forgiveness, all duplicity and deceit are taken away. Only purity remains. What a blessing!

But remember. It only comes through sincere confession. So, maybe the line is purposefully vague. Maybe the lack of deceit plays a conditional role and a consequence role. When we confess without deceit, we become a forgiven person who lacks deceit. After all, once I’m forgiven and purified, what’s left to lie about? Am I right?

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