“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psalm 32:1-2).
“Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple” (Psalm 65:4).
“Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be still praising Thee. Selah. Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the ways of them” (Psalm 84:4-5).
The 32nd Psalm begins at the very foundation of our blessing. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.” But this blessedness would be impossible were it not for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; but because of that cross the Spirit of God has the greatest delight in describing the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered. God has gone into the whole question, and it has been settled, not only to His satisfaction, but to His glory. It is a great joy to know that in saving us God has not lost anything. He not only has lost nothing through the salvation accorded to us, but He has been a great gainer. Not that we have done anything to glorify God, but His beloved Son, whom He sent, He has glorified Him. Now God has glorified Christ. When Judas went out (in John 13) to betray Him, He said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him”. There never was in the whole universe an hour when God was so glorified as when Jesus went to the cross. There never was a moment in the history of Christ when He was so glorified, though He reached the very lowest point of humiliation. The excellency of Christ came to light at the cross in a way that it never could have come to light previously. We naturally would have said, “Now is the Son of Man dishonoured”, but He says, “Now is the Son of Man glorified”. God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and will not wait very long to do it. He will straightway glorify Him. He raised Him from the dead, and set Him far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. He could say, “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work Thou gavest Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me with Thine own self, with the glory that I had with Thee before the world was”.
The foundation has been laid at the cross whereby the blessing of Psalm 32 has reached us, and is offered to every sinner. In the New Testament we learn the principle on which we are justified. It is by faith, on the ground of the work which has been accomplished by Jesus at the cross. The believer has found One who does not condemn, but who justifies the ungodly. He ceases his efforts to justify Himself, because he has found that God is able to justify him, and that He delights in justifying him. He does not need to state before God or before men his goodness. He tells what he is as a sinner before God, and then God justifies him. “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” What will He impute to him? He will impute righteousness. He will never hold him to be a sinner; He will always hold him to be righteous. This is the very beginning of our relationship with God. It is not something advanced, but the very beginning. We were exceedingly thankful to know that our sins are forgiven, but by-and-by we become used to being converted.
We are accustomed to think of ourselves as being converted, and as belonging to God, and being among the blessed ones to whom the Lord will not reckon sin. It ceases to have the power over our souls that it ought always to have, because it is a wonderful thing for anyone to be able to say, “Thank God, There is one thing God will not do: He will not impute sin to me. I feel I have sinned grievously, even since I was converted. I feel, if I look back over my wilderness journey, it has been a day of provocation from the beginning. But though He may take me in hand in His government, and use the rod, He will not impute sin to me”. Our failure will never in the least impair the relationships that God has established between us and Himself, because He has established them in Christ. Hence, until sin can be imputed to Christ, it cannot be imputed to the believer. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
In Psalm 65 you get another thing. We are brought near to God. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest.” That may astonish us when we learn it first. We think that we chose Christ, we chose to turn to God, that the movement began with ourselves. It did not. The Lord said to His disciples, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you”. When there was no movement in our hearts towards Him, He began with us. He has made us His children. He keeps us by the way, He holds us from stumbling, and by-and-by He will change these bodies of humiliation, and fashion them like to His own body of glory. It is all of Himself from beginning to end. The Prodigal did not want the place of son. He never expected to be brought into such a place. It never dawned upon his imagination that he would be received as a son, until the Father ran and fell on his neck, and covered him With kisses. God has not come out to give us a place in His presence according to the desires of our heart. He has come out to take us up for His own pleasure.
“Trembling we had hoped for mercy,
Some lone place within his door.
But the crown, the robe, the mansion,
All were ready long before.”
“Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee.” It is not that we wanted to be in His presence; He wanted to have us in His presence. It is not that we wanted those new and eternal relationships. We only wanted to be saved from hell, but He had something better than that for us. His salvation included being brought to Himself, and being set in the person of His Son before His face, so that we might be in the end with Him and like Him to the satisfaction of the heart of the Father and the Son throughout eternity. So the Spirit of God has something more to say about our blessedness besides that we are forgiven, and that God will never look on us in any other way than as righteous before Him. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee.” That is a very happy man. It is God who has advanced towards me. He has come out towards me, as the shepherd sought the sheep, as the woman sought the piece of silver, and as the father came out to the son. He wanted me. It is true of all the people of God, whether they have learned it or not. Perhaps we are long on the way of learning it, and perhaps some never learn it at all, and think that the movement was on their side first. God was dealing with us before we were dealing with Him. “Everyone that has heard and learned of the Father, comes unto Me.” We stayed away from Him as long as ever we were able, and did not want to have anything to do with Him, but as the hymn puts it—
“And when was come the moment,
Thou, calling by Thy grace,
Didst gently, firmly lead us,
Each from his hiding place.”
He brought us from our hiding places; God spoke to us before we spoke to Him. Saul of Tarsus had not spoken to God, when God spoke to him. The Lord says to Ananias, “Behold he prayeth”. Had not he prayed a thousand times before? He was a good Jew and a good Pharisee, who prayed often. Yes, but his prayers never reached God. Now His voice is heard in the courts above. His voice is heard in the Father’s ear. It never was heard before. The Spirit of God delights to point out to us such a person, and say, “That is a blessed man whom God chooses”. He did not choose us because we were anything better than other people. He chose us because He did choose us, and we shall never be able to explain how God chose us and why He chose us.
He chose us that we might approach to Him, and that we might dwell in His courts. It does not quite say “in His house”, but “in His courts”. Israel came into the courts of the Lord. We have that constantly in the Psalms. The priests could go into the holy place, but nobody could go into the holiest of all, except the high priest once a year.
In Psalm 84 there is something different. “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house.” Here we get another blessedness. The Psalmist says, “How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Jehovah of Hosts”. Why were the tabernacles amiable? Psalm 65 is Israel’s blessing. It falls short of ours, I admit, but the principle is the same. He has brought us near to Himself that we might dwell with Him. What is it that makes us say, “How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Jehovah of Hosts”? Because God was there. The chief joy of God’s people is God Himself, not the place we are going to, but the Person who is there. “We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. The Lord said to His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you”. Do you think that brought any great joy to the hearts of His disciples? I do not think it did. They preferred earth a great deal to that place. But He goes on, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, ye may be also”. That made the place dear to them. He was to be there. We could not think of going to heaven if the Lord was here. If He is there, then we want to go there. This Psalm really depends in a way, for the understanding of it, on Psalm 42, “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God”. God was everything to the writer. It was God that made the tabernacles a place to be desired. His presence made them amiable. Then Psalm 43 says, “Send out Thy light and Thy truth; let them lead me”. “Let them bring me to Thy tabernacles, and to Thy holy hill.” In Psalm 84 the man is not there yet, but he is on the way. “My soul longeth, yea, thirsteth for the courts of the Lord.” Then he speaks of the sparrow as finding a house and the swallow a nest for herself, where she might lay her young, but there was only one place for him—the altars of Jehovah of Hosts. It was not that the sparrow and the swallow built upon the altars. He says, “Everything has got a place, however worthless or wandering it may be, but I will not have any home here but those altars.
“Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they will be still praising Thee.” There you get the occupation. We are on a journey. We are going to the Father’s house. We are to be where Christ is. Where is Christ? He is in the presence of the Father. He is there with Him glorified. If I want to know what my place is with God, I learn it in Christ. I cannot learn it anywhere else, or in any other way. I am going to the Father’s house, and every step of the journey leads in that direction, and shortens the way. “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house.” What shall we be like when we are there? We shall be like Christ. Do not you think the Father will have perfect delight in us? He will, because He will see Christ in us. His eye at the present moment rests on the least bit of Christ in you and me. The Lord said in John 16, “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me”. That little spark of divine love to Christ that the Spirit of God has kindled in your heart is that which draws out the Father’s love. What was it that the Father’s eye rested upon in Christ? That perfect obedience which was like nothing else in the universe. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, and for that reason He has His present place in the glory. He holds that place, and He will bring us there. As surely as He laid down His life for us, He will bring us there. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.”
What is our occupation there? “Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house; they will be still praising Thee.” That is their occupation. Look at the Lord raised from the dead, heard from the horns of the unicorns, according to Psalm 22. What does He say? “I will declare Thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto Thee.” We can praise Him here because we are redeemed, but when we are there in the Father’s house, what a note of praise there will be!
“There only to adore,
My soul its strength shall find
Its life, its joy, for evermore,
By sight, nor sense defined.”
What a song of praise will go forth from us when we reach the Father’s house, not merely the house of God, but the Father’s house. We are children on the way to the Father’s house. We are going home.
Then, again, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee”. We never would arrive there by our own strength, but “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” They will be able to go on. “In whose heart are the ways”, the ways to glory, the ways to the Father’s house. They may be rough and thorny, but would we rather go some other way to the Father’s house than the way marked out for us by the feet of Jesus? There is no other way than that, and we would not look for. any other way. “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee; in whose heart are the ways.” Not only the place, but the way to it is good. The Lord says to Ananias, “Tell Paul how many things he has to suffer for My name’s sake”. Was that to discourage him? No, but to greatly encourage him. You would not let your enemy suffer anything on your account. The Lord would not let us suffer anything on His account if He did not love us. But then, the highway to that place should get into our hearts. We should love the pathway there. “The lines are fallen to Me in pleasant places,” the Lord says. “Thou wilt show Me the path of life.” That path of life led to the cross. The pathway to the right hand of God lay through the sorrows of Calvary, yet He calls it a path of life. “At Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore”, and the light of that glory so fills our hearts that the way to it even becomes pleasant to us.
“There is but one path in this waste
Which His footsteps have marked as His own.
And we follow in diligent haste,
To the seats where He’s put on His crown.”
“Who, passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well.” They turn this desert scene into a well, and the rain from heaven covers the pools. How do we tread that pathway? Footsore and weary? It does not say so. “They go from strength to strength”, the very opposite of the way in which men go through this world. They go from weakness to weakness, and in the end die of weakness. “Here they go from strength to strength.” Going out of this wilderness scene, they are stronger than they entered it, spiritually stronger. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” According to the number of a man’s days on earth naturally is his weakness, but “according to the number of days so shall thy strength be” here.
“Everyone of them shall appear before God in Zion.” This is Israel’s blessing; we shall appear in the Father’s house before God. What a prospect God sets before our souls, and what does it all resolve itself into? It is this. We shall see Jesus, as He is, whom not having seen we love; in whom, though seeing Him not, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. What will it be when we see Him face to face, and are with Him in that home of glory? The joys of that scene cannot be told, but they have a powerful influence upon us if we know anything about it here, so that, however rough the pathway it seems smooth, because of the blessedness of the home that lies before the vision of our souls. We are going to the Father’s house. We know what our occupation will be—worshipping the Father.
“But who that glorious blaze
Of living light shall tell
Where all His brightness God displays,
And the Lamb’s glories dwell.
“God and the Lamb shall there
The light and temple be,
And radiant host for ever share
The unveiled mystery.”