Don't Worry, Be Happy

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Intro
We all want to be happy don’t we?
We see these words in the Declaration of Independence...
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Just as we explored true freedom in my sermon on July 4th, So today we will be exploring true and genuine happiness.
From as early as the Garden of Eden humanity has sought happiness in all the wrong places. Chasing after promises of happiness and finding only the broken promises of mirage after mirage.
Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit believing that would make her happy but only introduced pain and suffering on our world and in our hearts.
In the days of the Judges before Israel had a king, we are told that everyone did what was right in their own eyes. This too only led to more suffering.
The human condition has not changed since that first bite in the garden. We hear things today like...
You do you. or Live your truth.
While our world struggles to define truth and goodness apart from the God of the Bible...
The one thing we can all agree on is that we all want to be happy.
The million dollar question though is how can we experience true and lasting happiness?
Psalm 32 has been described as wisdom Psalm designed to instruct us. This morning we will sit under the divinely inspired words of King David as we learn how to truly be happy.
By the way, this was one of Dewey McIlwee’s favorite Psalms. Each time I visited with him, he would always ask me to read this aloud to him.
Dewey actually had this in common with Augustine. It was his favorite Psalm too. It has been recored that he read it frequently and even had it inscribed on the wall next to his sickbed to comfort him before he died.
My outline is pretty simple today. My 3 points are...
How NOT to be Happy
How TO be Happy
The Consequence of Happiness
Before we go any further, let stand and read Psalm 32 together.
Psalm 32 ESV
A Maskil of David. 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. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah 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. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
PRAY

How NOT to be Happy

A common feature of wisdom literature is to instruct by contrasting opposites. The righteous verses the wicked — blessing and sorrow. This first point is one half of such a contrast. Look with me at verses 3-4.
One of the ways people seek happiness is to control what others think about them. This always involves hiding something that we think will damage our reputation, we keep silent about certain things we are not proud of. We hold it in.
We even do this with ourselves so that we can live with ourselves.
We minimize our sin,
we deny its severity,
we rationalize it away, or
we blame-shift.
This is easy to see with young kids in my house. “I only hit her because she stuck her tongue out at me first…she practically made me do it.”
This sound silly but we grown-ups do the same thing. We just learn how to be more sophisticated about it.
This is what David does in verse 3 — he tries to cover up his sin by staying silent about it. But look at what comes from this...
My bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
You see David cannot keep silent for long before the audible groans of torment rise from trying to keep his sin a secret.
Hear David expound this idea in Psalm 31:10
Psalm 31:10 ESV
For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.
While the blessed man in Psalm 1 is like a tree planted by streams of water, David says in verse 4, my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
Now this is not to suggest that all suffering is a direct result of sin in our lives. We only need to look to the book of Job to know this.
But remember also Jesus’ response to his disciple’s question, “who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”
Jesus tells them it was neither but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
But here, David says that the hand of the LORD was heavy upon him because of his sin.
David is playing the part of the mule in verse 9. He stays away from God by keeping silent about his sin.
Here the heavy hand of God is like the bit and bridle needed to draw in the mule. It’s very unpleasant for an animal to resist until it decides to come willingly.
David’s suffering is the bit and bridle of the LORD in his life that draws him.
This the loving discipline of our heavenly Father described in Hebrews 12, where it says that God...
...disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
In this way, David’s suffering and the weight of his guilty conscience are merciful gifts to him from God. And they are God’s gifts too, to all who are unrepentant in their sin.
There was a time when the brakes on one of our cars was making this awful squealing noise every time we slowed down. The mechanic explained to us that our brakes were find but they wouldn’t be for long unless we brought our car to the mechanic to replace our brake pads.
You see this was a design feature of the brake pads, intended to alert the driver to the fact that there was something wrong and serious damage would be caused unless bring the car to the mechanic.
In the same way, God as our creator has designed life in such a way that suffering is introduced when we stray from his good plans for us.
Our suffering is like those squealing brakes trying to alert us to the fact that something is wrong and if we keep silent about it...
Rationalize it,
Blame-shift it,
Minimize it,
Our sorrows will only be multiplied until it’s too late.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked it says in verse 10.
So, if keeping our sin covered up won’t make us happy, what will?

How TO be Happy

Look at verse 5 now...
The torment of keeping his sin covered was like the pressure exerted on a dam threatening to burst over. David’s only relief would come as he quits concealing his sin and opens the flood gates to relieve the pressure.
He does this by acknowledging his sin. He says, I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not cover my iniquity.
Instead of keeping silent and groaning, David brings his sin out of the shadows and into the light — he owns it and he confesses it to the LORD.
Augustine said that the beginning of knowledge is to know oneself to be a sinner.
In an effort to cover up — to justify one’s self. There’s a trendy ideology today that seeks to redefine sin as identity.
“It’s not wrong, it’s who I am” many say. And if it’s who I am then you are doing violence to my “self” by saying it’s wrong and calling it sin. This is a cover up — a self justification.
We see this with all the gender and sexuality issues becoming issues of identity. There’s a new movement now called “body positivity”.
You may have heard the term body shaming. It is now being taught that there is nothing wrong with being obese…this too is now a part of someone’s identity.
To be clear healthy people come in all shapes and sizes and our culture, for too long has idolized a particular body type. This is not what I’m talking about.
To say that someone’s body is perfect who is morbidly obese because it’s who they are is harmful and it denies reality.
This is what Augustine was getting at. The beginning of knowledge is to know oneself to be a sinner. We need to stop covering up and instead own our sin and confess it NOT embrace it and define ourselves by it.
So, we acknowledge and confess our sin to God but there’s a 2nd part of this that we see at the end of verse 2. Blessed are those, in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Confessing our sin to God is not just admitting our sin is real but also rejecting it as repulsive!
Admitting our sin to God with no remorse or grief over it, is to come with deceit in our hearts.
Now look what God does in response when we acknowledge and confess our sin with sincerity. He does 4 things...
In verse one it says his transgression is forgiven.
Transgression is a way of describing sin as rebelliousness or disloyalty. It implies that we are a people under the authority of the sovereign king and creator of the universe. Transgression is treason against the King!
Forgiveness carries the meaning of lifting off, removing, or carrying away.
John Bunyan captured this meaning masterfully in his allegory, The Pilgrim’s Progress...
The pilgrim carries around on his back a heavy burden that he can’t remove — until he comes to the cross and his burden is loosed, falls off his back and rolls down a hill until it falls into an open grave and is never seen again.
This what happens to all who confess their sin to God!
He removes it as far as the east is from the west Psalm 103:12)
The next thing God does in verse one is he covers our sin.
We cannot cover our sin but God can.
This is very interesting.
You may be familiar with the ark of the covenant [pic]. The ark was in the most holy place of the temple where God manifested his presence among his people.
The Ark had a lid called the mercy seat where two golden cherubim were depicted and God’s presence symbolically dwelt above the mercy seat and between the wings of the cherubim.
This mercy seat is where the blood of the sacrifice for atonement for sin was sprinkled. It was the place that came between the presence of God above the cherubim and the broken law which was contained inside the ark.
Now the Greek word for Mercy Seat is PROPITIATION which is the act of turning away and satisfying God’s wrath.
In Hebrew the word for propitiation get’s translated as COVERING. And this is the term that David uses for COVERED here in Psalm 32.
The 3rd thing God does here is in verse 2. It says the LORD counts no iniquity against us.
Counts is a book keeping term that refers to debts recorded in a ledger. The apostle Paul quotes this verse in Romans 4 and is the foundation of a doctrine called imputation.
There’s three parts to the doctrine of imputation.
First, our sin is not COUNTED against us, that debt is crossed off our ledgers
Secondly, Christ’s righteousness is COUNTED to us. His perfect record of righteousness is written onto our ledgers and is counted as ours.
Thirdly, the debt of our sin that was not COUNTED against us, was counted to Jesus — the sins of the world were written on his ledger and counted as his. And he paid our debt in full on the cross with his life!
The last thing God does is in the 2nd part of verse 6 and into verse 7. He PRESERVES us from trouble.
The rush of great waters shall not reach us. This is symbol of chaos and disaster. And in this context represents God’s just wrath poured out on sin.
It’s these waters that will not reach us. We are hid and preserved from this judgment. When these great waters threatened to overcome and surround us, God preserves us and instead surrounds us with shouts of deliverance.
Here’s the joy — the happiness we’re after. The term blessed in verses 1-2 means happy!
Happy are the ones whose transgressions is forgiven!
Happy are those against whom the LORD counts no iniquity!
And here’s the thing about this happiness — The measure of our happiness is directly proportional to understanding the horror of the sin we’ve been forgiven.
I couldn’t say this any better so listen to what John Piper says about this...

O, that we might cherish our forgiveness more! But I am convinced that until we fear sin and its consequences more keenly, we will not prize our pardon very highly. The degree to which we feel sweet gratitude for being forgiven is directly proportionate to the degree that the alternative of being forgiven strikes dread into our heart. The horror of sin and the fearfulness of hell are the only backdrop that will let forgiveness shine for the infinite blessing it really is. If we do not see the gigantic tidal wave of God’s wrath rushing toward the little raft of our sin, then we won’t kiss the feet of the helicopter pilot who plucks us out of the ocean just in time.

It’s the backdrop of our sin that magnifies the delight of our forgiveness. This makes us exceedingly happy.

The Way of Happiness

So what effects does this happiness have on our lives? This is the way of happiness.
First, Notice that after verse 5 there’s a Selah. It’s not entirely clear what this Hebrew word means but many think this is a call for a reflective pause to consider what has just been said before moving on.
Notice in verse 6, that the first thing David does after declaring God’s forgiveness for his sins is to look outward.
The forgiveness of his sins brings him such great joy and happiness that he can’t keep it to himself! He has to tell others about it too!
Sometimes people will tell me the reason they don’t share their faith more is because they don’t think they know enough or are afraid they may not be able to answer someone’s questions or objections.
But we see here that the fuel that ignites David’s evangelistic zeal is the happiness that comes from meditation on the gospel’s work in his life!
So maybe the reason we don’t share our faith more is not so much our lack of knowledge but our lack of JOY the flows out of the gospel!
This is only natural. We naturally share things that bring us joy with others all the time.
I can always count on Kenny to let me know about some fantastic restaurant that he’s tried lately. The meal lit up his taste buds and heart naturally flows to, “Hey, you have to try this!”
So, think about YOUR sin that God has forgiven, covered, and not counted against you in Jesus. What affections does that raise in your heart for Jesus?
Now compare those affections to the way you feel about the things and people you care about in this world.
If you find that your heart leaps more for anything else besides Jesus, you need to repent of that and fight for your joy by remembering the gospel!
The insidiousness of your sin and the looming judgment of hell.
The sacrifice of Jesus in your place to forgive, cover, and not count your sin against you.
This is why our church vision statement begins with an expressed desire to be a gospel-shaped church that embodies a passion for God and compassion for people.
It’s the gospel that ignites the flames of our affections for God.
And it’s the gospel motivates our compassion for people and seeing them find immense happiness in Jesus.
One last effect of happiness in Jesus — Happy people sing!
This is how David ends Psalm 32...
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
I’ve shared this with Leslie and our sound guys before — how much I would love to be able to hear the congregation singing more!
I’ve thought maybe the room is just too big for the number of people we have in here.
Maybe we could mic the room in such a way so as to pick up and amplify the collective voice of the congregation more.
But as I was preparing this message the thought crossed my mind…maybe we collectively are just not happy enough because of the gospel.
The solution then is not ultimately a matter of adding more mics but a matter of continuing to faithfully preach the gospel week in and week out and plead with the Holy Spirit to light us up to make a joyful noise.
Some of you might be thinking, “You have not heard me sing. Joyful noises don’t come out of this mouth.”
But you know what, it doesn’t matter what your voice sounds like! What makes a noise joyful is not whether it’s perfectly on key, but that it comes out of the overflow of a joyful heart!
When we are truly joyful, sometimes we embarrass ourselves but we are okay with it! — Think about when a contestant’s name gets called on the Price is Right! Ahhhh!!!!!
There was a time in King David’s life when the ark was being brought in to the city of Jerusalem and he was so overwhelmed with joy that he danced!
This is at the end of 2 Samuel 6. But it says David’s wife Michal despised him in her heart. And she says this in verse 20...
How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!
Apparently David’s dancing was so vigorous that some of his clothes fell off! — PLEASE everyone, lets keep our clothes on when we worship together in here.
But hear David’s response. He says...
I will celebrate before the LORD. I will make myself yet more contemptible than this!
Church, let us be a happy people and make a joyful noise together (with our clothes on).
Conclusion
Remind yourselves daily of the gospel. Drink deeply from its bottomless well. Be a happy people who share it liberally with others. And make a joyful noise to the LORD.
If you’re here today and your weary from chasing happiness but have not yet found anything that truly satisfies. Come to Jesus today.
Come receive a happiness that nothing in this world can match. Come with a sincere heart, acknowledging and confessing your sin and Jesus will forgive, cover, and not count it against you.
David says in verse 6 to offer prayer to God at a time when He may be found. Today is the day of grace but tomorrow is never guaranteed.
I’d like to invite any here today to come to the front during our last song and there will be some here to pray with you and help you come to Jesus to know the joy of his salvation, the forgiveness of your sins.
Isaiah 55:6–7 ESV
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
PRAYER
BENEDICTION
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, of priests to his God and Father, to him be lory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
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