Sin is a tricky little devil. She makes us believe we don’t have a sin problem or that the sin problems we do have are no big deal.
Of course, I’m personifying sin here, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Sin is rebellion against God. It’s why Paul says we are all born as children of wrath (Eph. 2:1).
So, for everyone who thinks their sins aren’t as bad as the next person’s, listen to the words of Ps. 38.
David knew about the deceptiveness of sin. He was well-acquainted with the guilt and shame she leaves behind. Perhaps penned in the wake of his soap-opera affair with Bathsheba, David outlines what sin can do to us in this song of lament.
And he would know. But so would we.
10 results of sin (Ps. 38:1-12):
- Incur God’s wrath (vs. 1-2)
- Lack of peace (vs. 3)
- Sickness (vs. 3, 7)
- Weighs you down (vs. 4, 6)
- Makes you fester (pine away) (vs. 5)
- Impacts your emotional health (anxiety, depression) (vs. 6)
- Impact your physical health (weakness) (vs. 7-8)
- Lose passion, motivation (vs. 10)
- Estrange you from family & loved ones (vs. 11)
- Open you up to further attack (vs. 12)
Sin has tangible results.
The folly of sin is believing that we can keep our sins private or hidden, that we can minimize the damage it brings, and that we can localize its impact to only ourselves.
Ps. 38 reveals that our bodies weren’t created to withstand the effects of sin. We were created for more – for a different kind of life.
So, what are we do to about it? David demonstrates three responses to sin in Ps. 38 that we should mirror.
The right response to sin (Ps. 38:17-20)
1. David gives up his sin (vs. 17)
Not all sickness or disease is due to a person’s sin (vs. 3,7-8), neither are all emotional health issues (vs. 6-10). But in David’s case, God used sickness and the guilt it brings to convict the king’s heart of his folly.
As a result, David experiences true sorrow over his sin.
“For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.” (Ps. 38:17)
2. David confesses his sin (vs. 18)
There can be no true salvation without true sorrow for sin. David does more than confess or admit his sin before God; he “anguishes” over it. The word “anguish” in the Hebrew means “to be anxious, be concerned” or “to fear, dread.” David acknowledges the magnitude of his sins beyond lip service. He takes full responsibility for it and its effects.
“For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.” (Ps. 38:18)
3. David turns from his sin (vs. 19-20)
Life presents us with two paths to choose between – the path of life and the path of destruction (Ps. 1). David chose to follow the path of good, while those around him continued down the wrong path.
In the original language, the word “follow” means to “pursue or dog” in a passionate and intentional sense. David’s choice was not easy; the right choice never is.
“But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong;
And those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied.
Those also who render evil for good,
They are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.” (Ps. 38:19-20)
What God does in light of sin (Ps. 38:21-22)
1. God doesn’t forsake us (vs. 21)
God does not nor will not forsake us to our sin. We can trust that God’s presence is always near to those who trust him.
What does God’s presence mean? It means all 10 effects of sin listed in this song are wiped away with God’s presence. In God’s presence we find joy (Ps. 16:11). In God’s presence we find safety (Ps. 31:20). In God’s presence we find peace (Phil. 4:6-9). One day, God’s presence will be permanently manifested to us. We won’t have to worry about sickness, sorrow, or death anymore (Rev. 21:4).
2. God is quick to help (vs. 22)
If we think we can fix our own sin problem then we have yet to come to an appropriate understanding of the grossness of our sin. We cannot make enough amends, throw enough money at it, or cover it up well enough. We need help to deal with sin.
Thankfully, our God is quick to help us through salvation. When we come to him in anguish over what’s we’ve done, he does not delay.
Dear Lord, thank you for being a God who helps and stays. Messing up comes so easy, even when I’ve just read your Word and spent time talking to you – I can’t seem to stop choosing the wrong path. Be my helper today. When I’m caught in the moment of anger or ugliness, remind me that you’ve intended something better for my life. Please forgive me, Lord. Please be quick to help. May your presence guide me in all gentleness and mercy today. Help me to rest in you. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
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