I can remember my Dad telling me when I was a kid, “son, it’s good to learn from your mistakes, but, it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others”. This was great advice, unfortunately, I was in my late teens when I began to apply that advice. King David wants to encourage us to learn from his mistakes instead of making the same mistake over and over again, generation after generation. That is why he wrote what he did in Psalm 32. In this article, I would like to examine King David’s advice on learning from his mistakes. This is what our church will study this coming Sunday in our Sunday School classes. I am excited that the youngest among us and the most mature among us will all have a chance to hear the fatherly heart of King David and learn from his mistakes so that we do not repeat them.
I. Walking with God is good for you!
This Psalm is a psalm written by David. The instruction in this psalm come as a result of life experience. David is not just passing on information to others. He is sharing something that he has lived.
1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!
2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! (Psalm 32)
David knew the blessings and benefits of a personal relationship with God. David also knew the benefits of following a God who is able to forgive sin and wipe away the stain that sin leaves on a person’s soul. God is able to expose a person’s deceptive spirit and then help him to overcome his deceptive sin nature. These benefits and blessings are available for anyone who follows God. Have you had your sins forgiven? Have you had the stains left by your sins wiped away? Have you had your deceptive nature exposed? Are you benefiting from God’s help to aide you in overcoming the deceptiveness of your sin nature? David learned this and he wanted to share with all who will listen, down throughout the ages. Are you ready to listen?
II. Wake up and be real!
As I wrote in the previous paragraph, David wrote from experience. This section of teaching comes from the heart. David, after walking with the Lord for years, decided to sin against God and the people around him.
3 When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD “; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
6 Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
7 You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Psalm 32)
He was very close to being exposed and he attempted to cover up his sin. God was ready and willing to forgive David, yet, David chose not to confess his sin. God allowed the attempt to happen. David revealed some insights on what it was like as he tried to cover up and keep his sin unconfessed. It was killing him. If you have ever tried to cover up sin, you know exactly what David was going through. There was a time when I tried to cover up sin. By the time I confessed, I was praying to get caught just to have what I had done exposed. My conscience was killing me. I began to “waste away” as David wrote. I could not eat and I could not sleep. I was miserable. Finally, like David, I came to my senses and confessed my sin. God forgave me and my guilt was gone. It was such a major relief. I know now that trying to cover up sin, even if you get away with it for a while, is not worth it. Instead, I have learned to be quick to confess. Is there anything that you are trying to cover up? Would you like to have relief from your guilty conscience? Confess your sin. The word confess means to agree with God that what you did was wrong, that you did it and take ownership of your actions instead of trying to blame others. Have you ever done this? God will forgive you and remove your guilt. When you learn this truth, you will stop trying to run away from God and you will be quick to run to Him. God promises to teach you, to give you advice, and lead you in the direction that you should go. Don’t you want something like this?
III. Willingly surrender to the Lord’s ways!
David ends with some practical advice to the reader (you and I).
9 Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the LORD, lovingkindness shall surround him.
11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. (Psalm 32)
He begins his practical advice with a challenge not to be stubborn like a mule who lacks understanding. The idea is, learn!!! Many times, we end up making the same mistakes over and over again. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, the same way, and then expecting different results. Many of us are like this. We do not want to listen to the advice of others and we do not learn from our mistakes. David pleads with us not to be this way. Just like the stubborn mule, we need a bit and bridle to keep us in check. God and His Word are the bit and bridle for us, to give us advice and to help us learn from our mistakes. The next bit of advice is that we are to trust in the Lord, trust His Word because God and His Word are full of lovingkindness. The word lovingkindness means for the good of the recipient. God is for us and not against us. Our sin nature, even though a part of us, it is actually against us. Doing what we think is right can destroy us. Doing what God teaches us is good for us. The results of trusting in the Lord are joy and gladness. You will live with an upright heart and have nothing to hide, nothing to try and cover up. Are you like an unbridled mule who is stubborn, continuing to do things that bring you down? Do you need a bridle and bit? God is ready to help bridle you so that you can do things that will be good for you. Do you live in a state of joy and gladness? God offers this to anyone who will listen through King David and his own personal experiences. May we learn to walk with the Lord and receive all of these benefits that He has to offer to us!