Here is the third and final post in our short reflection on Psalm 32. Yesterday we left off on how we as believers are actually in a better position than King David was in when he penned this great Psalm. This is because David’s understanding of forgiveness came through types and shadows.
David, along with the people of God knew his Bible well, so they were aware that forgiveness was a central part of God’s revelation. We know this because one of Israel’s greatest holy days was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16). On that day the high priest was to select two unblemished sacrificial goats. One of the goats was to be killed and his blood sprinkled on the altar as a sacrifice. Then the high priest would place his hands on the head of the goat that was alive, symbolizing that the guilt of the people had been transferred to the goat.
Then that goat was sent into the wilderness never to return, symbolizing that the sins of the people went with the goat never to return to them again. As beautiful as that ceremony might have been, the truth of the matter is that that enactment didn’t actually remove the people’s sins! As the writer to Hebrews says in 10:4, For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
In chapter 9 the writer says that Christ entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for his people. He goes on to say that those who offered the necessary sacrifices may have become ceremonially clean, but the sacrifices didn’t actually remove the sin or purify the conscience (Heb. 9:13-14). This is why Hebrews tells us on four separate occasions that the new covenant is a better covenant (Heb. 7:22; 8:1; 8:6; 12:24).
Psalm 32 is good news. We need to hear, know, and feel this truth because it will empower us to see that God is more beautiful than the temporal pleasures that Satan often throws before our eyes. We will be able to experience what Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) called, “The Expulsive Power of a Superior Pleasure.” Knowing that God has given us the opposite of what we deserve is a powerful truth that transforms our lives and fuels our love for him.
1 For the entire Yom Kippur narrative see John MacArthur Jr., Ephesians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 22.