Silence about Sin
(H) Of David, a Maskil (contemplative psalm). (1) Blessed (is the one) whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (2) Blessed (is) the one to whom Yahweh does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit (there is) no deceit. (3) When I remained silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long, (4) for day and night your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. (Selah) (5) I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Selah)
Several repetitions and synonyms help us grasp the outline of this section. First, David repeats “blessed” (vss. 1 & 2) and in both cases attributes that quality of wellbeing to anyone who can stand before Yahweh without sin, either through righteous living or through forgiveness. Three terms in these two verses speak of the removal of sin: “forgiven...covered...does not impute.”
In addition, David uses four words for sin in these opening two verses: “transgression...sin...iniquity...deceit.” He then repeats three of those terms with the personal pronoun “my sin,” “my iniquity,” and “my transgressions” (vs. 5). At the end this verse, he repeats two of those words the third time in the phrase, “the iniquity of my sin.”
We find another group of synonyms in the final verse: “acknowledged...did not hide...confess” (vs. 5). In that same verse we should note a repetition of the word “forgive” which was used earlier (vs. 1). Those who are familiar with the New Testament immediately think of the promise found in 1 John: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9).
I. Principle: fellowship with Yahweh depends on his forgiveness. (1 & 2)
II. Personal experience: the process of forgiveness (3-5)
- Before, the misery of living with sin unconfessed (3 & 4)
- After, the joy of sins forgiven (5)
When we confess our sins, Yahweh forgives and blesses us, but when we resist him, he chastens us until we are willing to confess.
God’s grace, by definition, is the unmerited favor and forgiveness he extends to those who deserve his wrath because of their sin. We enjoy singing about his generosity with lyrics like, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; ‘twas blind, but now I see.” Sadly, the possibility of abusing God’s undeserved grace always lurks in the background due to the perversity of our hearts. We find ourselves wondering, “What if I sin again, and again, and again? Will God forgive me again, and again, and again?” And what about the believer who rashly states, “I know that God has to forgive me if, after sinning willfully, I confess my sin to him?”
We all too easily forget that God is fully capable of dealing with such waywardness by bringing to bear his discipline in our lives. When we refuse to turn from our sinful ways, God’s heavy hand of chastisement will eventually settle upon us to waste our bones and dry up our spiritual vitality until we turn back to him in repentance. The author of Hebrews devoted half a chapter in his epistle to demonstrate that God’s firm but loving hand of discipline will fall upon the lives of those who need his rebuke, his correction (Heb. 12:4-13).
God’s showing us his amazing grace does not cease when we are adopted into his family. It persists throughout our lives as he works to rid us of our deep-seated rebelliousness and bring us into conformity with the likeness of his Son. As his Spirit makes us aware of the depths of our sinfulness and the rebellion of our hearts in order cleanse us, our response should be, like David, to acknowledge and confess our perversity and to seek an ever-deepening fellowship with the one whose tenacious love will never let us go.