The Importance of Confession, Psalm 32
How important is confession? According to the psalmist David, it could be the difference between happiness and groaning all day long. He is speaking, of course, of our spirit. We wouldn’t walk around groaning out loud, but our spirit might groan within us when we keep silent rather than confessing our sin. The spirit with unconfessed sin is a deceitful spirit, one that clings to its own unhappiness. Confession allows truth to clean up deceit’s mess.
We know what the psalmist knows about a heaviness upon us day and night, especially at night. We know David’s psalm is not a theory, it is a testimony that we share. But now his testimony is one of a change so drastic in outlook that instead of trying to hide from God, he hides in God. Thinking back on his time of silence about his sins, David remembers them as a rush of mighty waters. But the rush and the crush can’t get to him now. The weight of it all has been handed over to God via confession.
With sin confessed, we can be instructed and taught about the way we should go throughout the day and throughout our lives. New possibilities flood our thinking. We can talk about something else now, something fresh and new. What a delight confession and forgiveness afford-the chance to talk about something new. Imagine it.
Don’t be mule-headed about this, pleads the psalmist. Replace torment with love. Don’t be haunted, but be filled with the Spirit. Be glad and rejoice; shout for joy.
This is a great psalm, with some insightful and bright moments in it, but what if we’ve become somewhat adept at living with unconfessed sin? What if the change the psalm describes sounds difficult to adjust to-a life too new? Of course, we would rather be happy than tormented, but what would have to be rearranged, renegotiated, or realigned? Some of my shortcomings have become companions. The questions arise, but they reveal the grip that sin has on us. Verse three suggests that such thinking results in our wasting away. Sin is not neutral; instead, it works toward our destruction.
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered (v 1). We are pulled by the thought of happiness and the fear of change. Lent provides a season for struggle with this decision, not just a moment. At this time of year we are not shielded from the reality of our spiritual failures and stumbles; we, instead, are invited to name them, own them, and pray them over to God. God will be with us in the transition. We are not left to wander between the present and the promised realities; we are escorted.
A freshness hovers over this psalm, waiting and wanting to land in the heart of the reader. Confession is not a word in the dark vocabulary of sin; it is a word in the bright vocabulary of forgiveness. Whether we experience our guilt as a cold winter or a hot summer (v 4), a refreshing springtime awaits those who will “confess (their) transgressions to the Lord” (v 5).
There is nothing more to put on this page. What remains is the reader’s decision about what to do with what the Spirit has placed in their heart, and in their imagination.
Lord, help me to say my sin to you so that my spirit may know joy.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.
All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.
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www.MorningStarMusic.com. Day 21, March 8, 2013