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The Pain of Guilt


To understand the blessing of forgiveness, we must acknowledge the pain of guilt. An article in Psychology Today titled “What Does Guilt Do?” claims that guilt is actually a valuable emotion because it helps us maintain ties to people in our community. The pain of guilt helps us realize when our actions damage our relationship to others. In the same way, when we forgive the guilty party, we show that we value that person and want to restore the relationship.

In today’s psalm, David extols the blessings of forgiveness. David had sinned and felt the pain of guilt; now he rejoiced in the fact that he had been forgiven and his relationship to God had been restored. David, chosen by God Himself to be Israel’s king, had also committed grievous sins, including adultery, deception, and the orchestration of Uriah’s death. He had grieved the Lord (see 2 Sam. 11:27). 

Notice the picture of the torment and pain of guilt: “my bones wasted away” (v. 3), “your hand was heavy on me” (v. 4), and “my strength was sapped” (v. 4). Guilt is physically exhausting.

Rather than continue in this state of perpetual guilt-induced exhaustion, David confessed his sin to God. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.” The results were transformational: “And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (v. 5). God not only eliminates the consequence of death for our sins, He also removes the burden of our guilt and the exhaustion of shame.

The remainder of this psalm celebrates the restoration of David’s relationship with God. When we are in fellowship with God, He becomes our “hiding place” (v. 7) and guides us through life (v. 8). We are surrounded by His “unfailing love” (v. 10). We have joy in forgiveness.

Apply the Word

You might fear that your sins are so grotesque that God will not forgive. This word from the Lord invites you to confess and receive the blessings of His forgiveness—release from guilt, promise of protection, and the joy of a restored relationship. Your sins might be great, but His love and faithfulness are greater.

BY Jamie Janosz

Jamie Janosz serves as a content development manager for Moody Bible Institute. She writes monthly devotionals for Today in the Word and has published non-fiction essays with Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Recently Jamie wrote a book titled When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up (Moody Publishers). Jamie studied theology and writing at Moody Bible Institute, Columbia College, and Illinois State University. She lives on the Atlantic coast of Florida with her husband, Milt, and daughter, Sabrina.

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