There is much in this stanza that I may not have time to cover, but one major theme I see is a beautiful description of grief over sin, confession, and repentance. I love the progression here: the psalmist feeling weighed down and appealing to God to grant life by His word, the confession of the psalmist’s own wayward travels, and the pleas for instruction and understanding of the Law.
One of my favorite parts of this stanza is verse 26: “When I told of my ways, You answered me…” It is an apt reminder that we can come to God just as we are, warts and all. We can tell Him who we really are because He already knows. Crazily, unbelievably, He loves us anyway. And He desires to pick us up, clean us off, and replace our sin-soiled clothes with a new garment of righteousness.
Though our sins separate us from God, we can rejoice because Christ has made a way for us by His sacrifice so that we may now approach the Throne of Grace to find mercy. And God is merciful. He does not want us attempting to hide our sin from Him– that is impossible. He wants us to tell Him of our ways… and then to forsake our ways for His.
It is a fine thing to experience true heartbreak over sin. Genuine remorse, though painful, is the first step in getting rid of the thing entirely.In the Christian race, as in any other, the adage applies: “No pain, no gain.” In this case, the pain is contrition, the gain is eternal life given through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sadly, in our current societal climate there is very little tolerance for such discomfort, but there is no way to true spiritual wholeness except through the agony of brokenness. It’s the crux of Christianity–that to truly live one must first die to self and to sin.
However, this process of pain is also a tricky business due to the devious work of the Accuser. That old snake will take our broken hearts and attempt to trap us in shame, striving with all his might not to let us move through to the purifying relief of repentance.
The very pain God intends to use to draw us to Himself, the devil attempts to use as a wedge. He wants the shame of sin to drive us into hiding, just as Adam and Eve tried to hide from the Lord in the cool of the evening on that fateful day when they chose to ignore His instruction.
Know, however, that it is not God’s plan for contrition to bring about mere shame. His desire is reconciliation; a desire so strong that He sent his only Son to bear all humanity’s shame and to suffer the full wrath of God in our place. What a wonder!
Indeed, so great is His compassion that God invites us to tell Him of all our ways, to confess freely the acts that cause our faces to burn with humiliation, the seemingly small, “secret” sins that can even be more exacting on our conscience precisely because of their furtiveness, and everything in between.
If you struggle beneath the weight of true conviction and contrition, please do not fall for the lie that your sins are too heinous for God to handle. Let’s not forget that He is the Eternal — there is literally nothing He has not seen or heard already. We cannot surprise or shock Him.
What’s more wonderful still, we can never out-sin Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross. We can never out-sin God’s ability to forgive. So sinner bowed down beneath the burden of your guilt, tell Him of your ways. He will answer you.
Forgiver of our debts, I pray today for every person who reads these words and for everyone who is struggling beneath a burden of shame. May they all leave their burdens at the Cross and walk unashamed through the strait gate on their way to the Celestial City, amen.