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.

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The Lord is Righteous

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

The third foundation David will not abandon and that has not been destroyed is the righteousness of God. That righteousness is demonstrated by God living according to His name. His name declares that He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, abounding in faithfulness, and forgiving. However, it also declares that He will by no means clear the guilty (Exodus 34:6-7). Those who abandon God’s moral principles, pursuing and persisting in guilt will be judged. God’s righteousness is not primarily a declaration that God is always right. Rather, it is a declaration that God always lives according to His name. It would be folly for David to abandon God while he is living in the crucible of God’s testing. Why? Because He will always live according to His name. Everyone who abandons God, turns away from Him, pursues and persists in guilt, gets judged. Every single one. There are no exceptions, not even for David, King of Israel. God will rain down coals of fire and send scorching winds upon the one who loves and persists in violence. This means two things for David. First, the people who are pursuing violence toward him may appear to be getting away with it for now, but David knows in the end, the righteous God always judges those who love violence. Second, he wants no part of their sin. He doesn’t want to respond to them in like manner because he is no exception to God’s righteousness. It’s a foundation. God is righteous. And that is exactly the way we want Him to be.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11.

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