Make Your Sermons Stick
Use the biblical text and rhetorical devices to help your hearers stay active listeners.
Cover Or Be Covered
When we confess, we experience the shalom of God.
World War II was over. The Armistice had been signed in Europe and in Japan. Hostilities had ceased. But, under the leadership of General MacArthur, the Allies had bypassed many islands of the Pacific in their drive toward Japan. Now, even though the war was over, tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers were still occupying those islands, hiding in the jungles and mountains of the Pacific.
The Americans went to the islands and said, "The war is over. Peace has been declared. Lay down your arms, and come out." But the Japanese thought it was a trick. So MacArthur had the Emperor of Japan make recordings, which they broadcast with loudspeakers into the jungles: "The war is over. Peace has been declared. Lay down your arms, and come out." Only then did the Japanese soldiers trickle out.
The last soldier came out in March of 1974—29 years after the war was over. They asked him, "Why?" His answer: "I was afraid."
We sinners try to cover ourselves.
If you are at war with a stronger opponent, if you have created enmity with a more powerful foe, it is natural to fear. When we fear, it's natural to hide. That's the spiritual dynamic that runs underneath Psalm 32. We sinners sin. We sinners fear. We sinners hide. What was the first thing that Adam and Eve did after their great sin in the Garden? The Lord God came walking in the Garden and said, "Where are you?" Adam replied, "We heard your voice. We were afraid, so we hid."
Tradition says David wrote this psalm after his great sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. He went into hiding. He tried, in the words of this psalm, to cover ...
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Jeffrey Arthurs, Ph.D., is the Professor of Preaching and Communication & Chair, Division of Practical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.