For the most part, I grew up in church being taught that people in the Old Testament (old covenant) were saved by works and people in the New Testament (once Jesus died and rose–the new covenant) were saved by grace. Psalm 32 shows us that that just isn’t true. People in the Old Testament were also very much saved by grace. The psalmist describes a very Jesus-like salvation here where he talks about his sins being covered and forgiven, the Lord not counting his sins against him, and the act of confessing sin and being forgiven, with guilt being taken away. I could include numerous New Testament verses to each of those phrases. My point here isn’t to get us going down a theological wormhole, which we certainly could do, with some legitimate questions around the old covenant and around Jesus. My point is to stay with the point of the psalm, and that is to bask in the freedom of being forgiven!
It’s so helpful for me to hear the psalmist describe the simultaneous reality of his darkness and his refuge. In modern Christianity, it can often feel like results are supposed to come instantaneously when we cry out to God for help. That we are in the darkness, we pray that God would take the darkness away, and the darkness is gone! But time and time again, that is not the pattern we see in the Psalms. Yes, the psalmist is praying that God will take away the darkness, but the right now prayer is that God will be his refuge, shelter, and fortress in the midst of the darkness. This is something I can hold on to. This is something that actually gives my soul peace as I deal with my own seasons of darkness.
There was a sense of humility and worship around all of it. A sense of awe of God’s raw power. His power to bring up life from the dirt, create the balance of life that I participate in, and the fear and awe of being exposed to the elements in all of their beauty, grandeur, and terror.
I have met so many people who have been through such difficult experiences (have experienced evil) that it has turned their hearts away from God. God is seen as the one inflicting the evil so we feel like he’s abandoned us or given up on us. The Psalms don’t answer the question of why there is evil in the world or how could a good God allow suffering. These questions are valid, but they don’t have any slam dunk answers, and the Psalms don’t try giving any. But what we see in Psalm 28 is in the midst of evil’s afflictions, the psalmist turns toward God not away from him. We are going to experience trouble, evil, pain, suffering, et al in this world. Jesus assures us of this in John 16:33. I’ve had my own doubts and wrestling with God about why he has allowed me to experience certain sufferings and evils and the conclusion I have drawn is two-fold:
I think one of our greatest shortcomings as Christians today is left-brained knowledge of God without right-brained experience of God’s loving presence. That when my heart is longing for the faux and fleeting feeling that “just one more thing” can give me–one more purchase…one more flirtation…one more TV episode…one more experience–that instead of gratifying this empty desire, I can instead stop and gaze upon God’s beauty. I can instead sit in God’s presence. I can gaze upon his face smiling down on me (Numbers 6:24-26). I can seek his face. That his loving and majestic face is the answer to my heart’s longing.
So many in our world today are drowning in the deception of sin and the allusion that they can be their own gods. Be reminded today that following Jesus puts your feet on level ground (verse 12). Rest in the peace, joy, and assurance of this today.