The picture is that of a covering or shelter. A secret place for protection. A place where those who find refuge there are watched over, guarded, and kept close. A place of refuge from an enemy.
You are a hiding place for me;
You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah
(Psalm 32:7 ESV)\
It’s not an uncommon image in the psalms, that of the LORD being “a stronghold in times of trouble” (Ps. 9:9) or a “shelter in the day of trouble” (Ps. 27:5). That God is a rock of refuge for those who would flee to Him from their enemies is a common lyric among the songwriters.
But here’s the thing about this psalm. The enemy here is unconfessed sin.
David’s song is testimony of one who tried to conceal his sin. One who kept silent and tried to ignore it. One who refused to recognize his sin and attempted to cover his iniquity. But one who “wasted away” on the inside because of the shame and guilt that comes with sin.
Though on the outside he portrayed a king in control as he went about daily, kingly business, inside he was a mess. Inwardly he was “groaning all day long.” And night was no better, for He felt God’s heavy hand of conviction as he tossed and turned awake in bed. No rest, no peace. Eventually his “strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
But that all changed when he acknowledged his sin to God. When he stopped covering it up. When he confessed his transgressions to the LORD. For then, pens David, “You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:5b). And so the forgiven king could sing:
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)
Sin is the enemy, in this psalm, for which God is the refuge. Transgression is the trouble He will preserve us from. Deliverance is the wall of protection with which we can be surrounded. The entrance into this hiding place? Confession.
Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to You at a time when You may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
(Psalm 32:6 ESV)
The NLT rendering resonates with me:
Therefore, let all the godly pray to You while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
(Psalm 32:6 NLT)
The urgency is not that God will at some point up and leave so that He can’t be found, but that unconfessed sin will eventually harden the heart and corrupt the internal GPS which seeks release from shame and guilt. The floodwaters of judgment found not in a withdrawing of grace but in the downward, destructive spiral of being given over to minds which “suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18). God giving the unrepentant up “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (Rom. 1:24).
Though, as the godly, we have been delivered from the penalty of sin, let’s not kid ourselves about the need for on-going deliverance from the presence and power of sin. Sin is still an enemy. To not recognize that is to walk unarmed into a battle. To not deal with it after we’ve been tripped up or have failed, is to allow the enemy to eat us from the inside out with unresolved guilt and nowhere-to-go shame.
But to confess our sin, to make a beeline to the foot of the cross, to offer a prayer at a time when God has promised to be found, is to disarm the enemy. The blood of Christ sufficient to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn. 1:9). The shame removed because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
In Christ Jesus is our hiding place from our enemy, sin. He will preserve us from trouble. He will surround us with shouts of deliverance, again and again.
Shouts of “It is finished!” The work of redemption complete. The power of the enemy broken.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Because of His abundant grace. For His all-deserved glory.