We can imagine that on that long walk home, his stomach aching with hunger, the prodigal son wrestled with what he would say to his father. This is usually true of anyone who confesses wrongdoing. Whether we are admitting guilt to a parent, spouse, or even God, we plan our words in advance.
Psalm 32 shows us how to talk to God when we have sinned. The Psalmist begins by contrasting the benefits of forgiveness with the experience of guilt (vv. 1–4). Then in verse 5 he gives a basic definition of what is involved in confession. When we confess our sin, we acknowledge our sin to God. Commentator Ellen T. Cherry calls this the “center” of the Psalm. The root of the word translated as “acknowledge” means “to know.” We are often unwilling to admit our sin to God because we refuse to admit it to ourselves.
It is a mistake to act as if we have nothing to confess. On the other hand, verse 6 says that all the “faithful ones” (literally, “all the godly”) will acknowledge their sin just as David did. Psalm 51:17 describes our “broken spirit” as our sacrifice to God. “A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
The psalm describes not only confession, but offers hope. Those who try to cover up sin will find only guilt and unhappiness. Those who openly admit their sin will find forgiveness and relief. Refusing to face your sin only leads to trouble. Acknowledging your sin in God’s presence opens the door to joy and righteousness (v. 11).
>> Do you need to admit your sin to God? Be specific as you confess it to Him. God will not turn away anyone who seeks forgiveness through Christ. As 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Loving Father, we specifically confess our sins to You. Relieve this weight of shame. You already know what is in our hearts, but our repentance is the process by which You forgive us and restore our joy.