Thursday, October 10, 2019

Confession of Sin

"Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32:5).

Psalm 32 is a penitential psalm, the favorite of the greatest theologian of the early church, St. Augustine. In this psalm David is addressing the congregation—you and me. He announces his theme in the first two verses: We are blessed when our sins are forgiven. Sins are forgiven when God no longer counts them against us, and the proof of this is that we walk without deceit in our lives (vv. 1–2).

Some have suggested that David wrote this psalm after he had been restored from his sin with Bathsheba. Certainly, it would fit such a context. David says that for a long time he kept quiet about his sin. He tried to cover it up, hiding it from himself and from others. But God’s hand was heavy on him. As time went along his remorse intensified. He became ill as his bones wasted away. He became full of tension, unable to sleep, sensing that his strength was being sapped away. Finally, however, he confessed his sin to God, and received God’s forgiveness (vv. 3–5).

In verses 3–5 David has been addressing God, but within the hearing of the congregation. He continues in verse 6, asking God to hear the penitential prayers of all His children and to protect them from the waters of His wrath.

David now turns to the congregation and addresses them. He exhorts them that they not be like dumb animals having no understanding. Horses and mules must be controlled by force, but we as God’s people should be controlled by willing obedience to Him. David tells us that those who disobey God receive many woes, as he himself found out on more than one occasion. Yet, God surrounds the man who trusts in Him with His unfailing love. Indeed, God surrounds us with songs of deliverance (vv. 7–10).

David concludes by exhorting us to sing. Despite the pain of unconfessed sin and the sorrows which God’s careful chastisement has brought our way, the fact remains that we are His and He is ours. He has saved us, and His chastisements show that we are His legitimately adopted children. Therefore, we are to sing and rejoice in His presence.

The progression of Psalm 32 is as follows: Blessing is announced; sin is confessed; assurance is granted; instruction is heard; praise is the response. This progression makes sense, both for personal devotion and also for corporate worship. Let your own prayers take this form today.