Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
(Psalm 32:1-2, ESV)
Clean Up! Clean Up!
My kids grew up in the age of Barney & Friends (remember that one?) They didn’t actually watch the show very often because, well, it seemed a little too weird to mom & dad. A friendly mythical creature who occasionally comes to life, keeps telling my children, “I love you,” and shares a silly little lesson that presumes to improve their lives? I thought those were MY jobs! Besides, it all seemed too easy. After all, isn’t real life is more complicated than that…more uncertain, more dangerous…more like an episode of Roadrunner (my era)? But one thing I did appreciate about Barney & Friends was the “Clean Up” Song:
Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere; clean up clean up, everybody do your share…
It was a catchy little tune. It intended, I suppose, to change the way kids thought about cleaning up. Everyone knows clean-up is a necessary response to the messes we’ve made. But Barney taught us that clean-up didn’t need to be a burden (or a fight). Instead it could be a joyful invitation. It was for, “everybody, everywhere.” It was actually life-giving and community-building…it was a chance at a fresh start…it was fun.
In Psalm 32, David sings a song of praise. I imagine it was also set to a catchy little tune…maybe even a dance. His current joy is the consequence of God’s forgiveness. His present praise is amplified by the pain of his despairing past, and the prospects of a hopeful future.
The mood of the song is captured beautifully in Eugene Peterson’s translation: Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean! (Psalm 32:1, The Message)
Apparently, however, it hadn’t always been this way for David: “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away…[God’s] hand was heavy upon me…my strength was dried up.” (Psalm 32:3-4)
So what happened to change David’s despair to hope? “I acknowledged my sin to you…I did not cover up my iniquity…I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” (Psalm 32:5-6)
David’s new-found joy and peace was the result of honest, soul-searching confession. It was “clean-up time!” Of course, everyone knows that clean-up is the necessary response to the messes we’ve made in life, but David reminds us that confession doesn’t need to be a burden (or a fight). It is God’s joyful invitation. It is for, “everybody, everywhere.” It is actually life-giving and community-building…it is a fresh start! David confesses his sins, iniquities and transgressions, and then he looks out onto the new, cleaned-up “playroom” of his life and sees all kinds of hopeful possibilities. Freed from the chaos and weight of his guilty past, he imagines his life under God’s strong protection & deliverance, led by God’s gentle & loving hand (vs. 6-10).
In the end, all he can do is lift his voice in praise. Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11)
As we pray through this season of Lent, pondering our own weakness and mortality, we soon become keenly aware of the messes we have made. And we know full well that a serious clean-up is called for! But Psalm 32 reminds us that a good spiritual clean-up leads to joy and hope. It is an invitation to be free from the burden of our guilt and sin. And Jesus continues to extend that gracious invitation to “everybody, everywhere” today:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus is willing and able to forgive our past…he offers us real life in the present…and he is gently and joyfully leading us into the future. It’s a chance at a fresh start and a hopeful future. Don’t carry the weight when you don’t have to; don’t wallow in the mess. Lay your burdens down and follow Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the Living Water. Stay Thirsty for Him.