Psalm 32: Ya Gotta Admit It!

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Psalm 32

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
    my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

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. Selah

Therefore let everyone who is godly
    offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
    they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
    you preserve me from trouble;
    you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
    which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
    or it will not stay near you.

10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
    but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous,
    and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!

Neighborhood Trees #3 | Cypress, TX | January 2023

At a particular intersection I often navigate, two lanes of traffic turn left. Often the cars in the left-most lane want to merge into the right lane so that they can then turn right at the next intersection. It’s very common to see drivers nose in to the smallest of spaces between cars. I have a rule as we negotiate those turns and lane changes. If someone puts on his turn signal, indicating that he wants to merge into that right lane, I’ll back off the gas and let the merge happen. If not, I’m liable to keep the space a little more tight. I’m not sure my attitude is really all that gracious, but it is what I do. Let me know you want to merge, and I’ll let you merge!

I like to think of that as a metaphor for prayer. The Bible says, “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2) In this case it is also a metaphor for confession of sins. David wrote these words one thousand years before John wrote, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins.” (1 John 1:9) This is an eternal truth, revealed by God, and experienced by God’s people for thousands of years. Keep quiet and suffer internal torment and angst. Speak up, and you discover God’s gift of peace.

Bill Wilson codified this for those struggling with addiction, when he laid out the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Steps four and five are a powerful couplet:

Step Four

“We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Step Five

“We admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Further insight about Step Five reminds us:

“All the world’s a stage.” Addicts and alcoholics know this all too well. A huge amount of time and energy is spent acting, pretending, making excuses, manipulating and covering up. Preserving a dishonest lifestyle requires dishonesty–wearing masks and playing charades. Step Five means it is time to put away the masks, stop acting and get ready to take action. 

David had to be confronted in his sin, but once he was, he immediately confessed it to Nathan. The account is found in 2 Samuel 12:1-15. Nathan knew of the sin. But David needed to acknowledge the evil of what he had done, and admit that he had actually sinned. He could no longer pretend that all was well and that his life was truly right. He confessed his sin, and God forgave him.

The same is true for us. If we’re hiding something we need to bring it to the light of day. That may require admitting to yourself that you have actually done something truly wrong and sinful. (If so, join the club! All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.) You might need to speak with a pastor or someone you can fully trust in order to get it off your conscience. You surely must say it to God. I’ve found it helpful to write it out. I’ve done so, and afterward destroyed the document as a means of actively reflecting the reality of confession and forgiveness.

God removes sin from us as far as the east is from the west. We more fully realize this when we admit it and confess our sins out loud.

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