Psalm 38 – Day 1

Sin, Sorrow and Confession.

“But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done.”– Psalm 38:18 NLT

We are not told what David’s sin was, but he clearly articulates what he believes to be the ramifications for that sin. David is suffering greatly both physically and emotionally. He sees his circumstances as directly related to his sin and as a rebuke from God. Crying out to God he says, “Because of your anger, my whole body is sick; my health is broken because of my sins. My guilt overwhelms me – it is a burden to heavy to bear” (Psalm 38:3-4 NLT). David clearly understands the concept that sin has consequences and that God, because He is just, must punish sin. There is discipline involved when sins are committed. As children of God we are not allowed to sin freely and without consequence. If we belong to God, our sin produces guilt. His Spirit convicts us of our sin and produces within us those same feelings that David had. He speaks of God’s rebuke and discipline. He uses words like crushing, broken, grief, crushed, anguish and pain. And he attributes it all “because of my foolish sins” (Psalms 38:5 NLT).

Speaking of this conviction of sin, C. H. Spurgeon states, “God’s law applied by the Spirit to the conviction of the soul of sin, wounds deeply and rankles long; it is an arrow not lightly to be brushed out by careless mirthfulness, or to be extracted by the flattering hand of self righteousness.” David was not going to be able to escape the loving discipline of God by simply finding something to distract him. He could avoid it for a time, but his sin, unconfessed, would continue to haunt him, leaving him longing for relief. Conviction is designed to lead to confession. Conviction ignored will only lead to continued sorrow. It will eat away at you from the inside out. That’s why confession is so important. It is the anecdote for conviction, guilt and shame. John reminds us, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9 NLT). In Psalm 38, the word that David uses that is translated “confess” in the New Living Translation is actually the Hebrew word for “tell or declare.” He says that he avows, acknowledges or confesses the sins for which he has been convicted. He gets them out in the open with God. The truth is, God already knows what David has done, and is only waiting for David to acknowledge his guilt before God. He must agree with God that what he has done is wrong and simply admit it openly. Spurgeon says that this process of confession is therapeutic and healing.”Open confession is good for the soul. When sorrow leads to hearty and penitent acknowledgment of sin it is blessed sorrow, a thing to thank God for most devoutly. I will be sorry for my sin. My confession will be salted with briny tears. It is well not so much to bewail our sorrows as to denounce the sins which lie at the root of them. To be sorry for sin is no atonement for it, but it is the right spirit in which to repair to Jesus, who is the reconciliation and the Saviour. A man is near to the end of his trouble when he comes to an end with his sins.”

But an important part of confession is sorrow. David says, “I am deeply sorry for what I have done.” Confession without sorrow is simply regret or remorse. You may regret your sins because it has produced pain and discipline, but that is not true confession. Confession as a means to escape coming punishment is not enough. There must be sorrow for the sin we have committed and not just sorrow for the discipline we are enduring. A child my say he’s sorrow for something he has done, but it may be motivated by a desire to escape further punishment. It may have nothing to do with a sorrow over having offended his parents. The same can be true with us. In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul talks about a letter he had had to send addressing a sin they were struggling with. He says, “I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death” (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NLT). The kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. David was deeply sorry for his sins. He confesses it to God and asks Him to forgive and restore him. He knows that only God can bring the physical, emotional and spiritual healing he needs. He cries out to God, “Do not abandon me, O Lord. Do not stand at a distance, my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord may savior” (Psalm 38:21-22 NLT).

Father, they say confession is good for the soul. And nothing could be more true than when it comes to sin in the life of the believer. When we sin, the Spirit convicts our soul and creates in us a holy discontentment and discomfort. Like David, we grow increasingly unhappy with our condition, feeling guilt and shame for what we have done. But You are simply using that conviction to lead us to confession, in order that You might forgive and restore us. Give us an increasing hatred for sin and a willingness to acknowledge its presence in our lives as soon as it shows up. Help us respond quickly to the Spirit’s prompting and confess our sin with godly sorrow because we have offended You, our heavenly Father and holy God. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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