“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” (Psalm 32:5).
Though King David was a man after God’s own heart, he struggled with sin just as much as the next human being. Psalm 51 is a well-known example of David confessing his sin, but the lesser-known Psalm 32 is an equally powerful depiction of confession and repentance.
The psalm opens with David expressing the relief he feels at having his sins forgiven. He praises God for not counting his sins against him. He then contrasts his previous unrepentant state with this relief. Under conviction of his sin, he had tried to hide it. Perhaps if he remained silent, God would not know about it or would forget it. Yet the only result is that he became physically ill. “For when I kept silent,” he writes, “my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (v. 3). He feels the weight of God’s judgment upon him like a heavy hand on his shoulder.
At last, he confesses. He gives up on hiding and admits his sin to God. The result is cleansing and a sweet relief from the burden of guilt. He realizes again that God is his refuge, a safe place to hide from all troubles. He can trust in God, knowing that in Him is true forgiveness. He has come humbly before God in the brokenness of his sin, and God has gladly forgiven him.
Our natural instinct when we sin is to hide. Like Adam and Eve before us, we scramble to cover up our sin, hoping God will take no notice. But in reality, God knows everything. It is impossible to hide from Him. But we do not have to be terrified of Him! He stands ready to forgive us, if only we will admit our wrongdoing to Him and turn away from it. He offers release from guilt, if we will only accept it!