I’m so thankful for the forgiveness of God. Psalm 103:12-13 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.” Because of the cross of Jesus, all of our sins are forgiven. Sins past, present, and future are covered. Check out Colossians 2:13.
Colossians 2:13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him and forgave us all our trespasses.
Christ has achieved and completed our forgiveness. But just because Christ has achieved it for us doesn’t mean we always experience it. Despite the amazing gift of God’s forgiveness, we’ve all battled feelings of guilt and shame. How can praying through the Psalms help? Enter the Psalms of Confession.
Confessing our sin is how we experience the forgiveness that was won for us at the cross.
Confession is such a gift of grace. At first, it might not seem like it. Admitting where we failed is hard. It’s a hit to our pride. Can’t we just pretend like our sin never happened? Unfortunately, sin doesn’t work like that. It hangs on. It promises much and delivers only pain, guilt, and shame. And confessing our sin is difficult. It’s humbling. But like so many things in the Christian life, this hard, humbling work also brings joy and life. Confessing our sin is how we experience the forgiveness that was won for us at the cross. When we confess our specific sins to God we experience the specific forgiveness of that sin. This is why regular confession is so good for our souls. It’s how we get real about our sin AND how we learn to experience real forgiveness.
The Psalms of confession are such a helpful tool to walk us through how to confess our sins. They remind us to depend on the grace of God, like in Psalm 6:2 “Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak; heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking.” They show us how to mourn over our sin, like in Psalm 38:6 “I am bent over and brought very low; all day long I go around in mourning.” They teach us what God desires from us in our confession, like in Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God.” But most importantly they bring home the forgiveness of God to our hearts. Here is Psalm 130:3-4 “Lord, if you kept an account of iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that you may be revered.” And they demonstrate for us the joy that can be found on the other side of confession. As David is wrapping up his famous prayer of confession in Psalm 51 he talks about God’s delight with his people.
Psalm 51:18-19 In your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
As you pray through Psalms of confession you will know that you are not alone in your struggle.
Unlike other categories of Psalms, there isn’t an overabundance of Psalms of confession. Personally, Psalm 38 and 51 are the two that I rely on most. These Psalms have become friends of grace to me. Because, while confessing specific sins is hard, I know the mercy that is found on the other side of confession. One of the comforting things about using Psalms of Confession to help shape your confession is that these are real prayers. These aren’t hypothetical. These are prayers of confession in the middle of the deep pain that comes with sin. Psalm 38:3 says “There is no soundness in my body because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.” As you pray through Psalms of confession and apply them to your own life you will know that you are not alone in your struggle. Christians for thousands of years have walked the path you are walking on and found God’s forgiveness and mercy. You will too.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Nick Minerva