Augustine said about confession of sin: “Because I have sinned, I must declare my unrighteousness, confess my sins to the Lord, and stop trying to hide my guilt. The emphasis must be on that I did it myself. It was not fate, not my horoscope, not the devil. He did not force me to sin, but I consented to his persuasive temptations. And when I confess my rebellion to the Lord, I can say with the psalmist, ‘And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.’”
Psalm 32 is a beautiful poem about the blessing and beauty of God’s forgiveness (vv. 1–2, 11). David had at first resisted this blessing—His silence here is the silence of resisting God’s conviction of sin. His rebellious refusal to confess his sin brought about much inner suffering (vv. 3–4). In the end, God broke through and David repented and experienced the profound relief and blessing of forgiveness (v. 5).
The psalmist exhorted his fellow worshipers to do the same (vv. 6–8). God loves us. He can be trusted with our shameful secrets—in fact, He already knows them. He’s not waiting to ambush or punish us, but to forgive us. Sin interferes with closeness to God, so He also wants to teach us how to avoid sin and live righteously. To be under conviction of sin means God is graciously driving us to do what’s right and what’s good for us.
Why, then, would we act like a stubborn mule (vv. 9–10)? Don’t do what I did, David warns. Only an idiot would refuse to confess and repent! The “woes of the wicked” and the unrepentant are self-inflicted, but if we confess and repent, we can trade inner anguish for being immersed in God’s unfailing love (v. 10).
Confession of sin should be a regular habit. Our society doesn’t talk much about sin, preferring to say people make mistakes or are trapped in systems or “act out” and need therapy. But by repenting of sin and accepting God’s forgiveness, we demonstrate that repentance brings peace and joy in our relationship with God and brings glory to Him.