CONTEXT: The Psalm opens with a prayer, Ps 38:1; continues in a long complaint, Ps 38:2-8; pauses to dart an eye to heaven, Ps 38:9; proceeds with a second tale of sorrow, Ps 38:10-14; interjects another word of hopeful address to God, Ps 38:15; a third time pours out a flood of griefs, Ps 38:16-20; and then closes as it opened, with renewed petitioning, Ps 38:21-22. – Charles H. Spurgeon’s Treasury of David
I wish to specifically look at v.18 today For I do confess my guilt and iniquity; I am filled with anxiety because of my sin. This is nearly a direct copy of Psalm 32:5 and while both are Psalms of reflection or remembrance there are some distinctions.
In Psalm 32 David is rejoicing the forgiveness received for confessing his sins to a righteous God. As for this Psalm I think John Calvin said it best: But in this place he is not speaking so much of his repentance, as he is bewailing his sad and miserable condition; and, therefore, sin and iniquity are to be understood of the afflictions and chastisements which are the tokens of God’s wrath; as if he had said, that the hand of God was against him, and lying so heavily upon him, that from the very sight of the misery to which he was reduced, the world in general might regard him as a condemned and reprobate man. In order to render the meaning more obvious, the 18th and 19th verses must be read together, thus: I declare my iniquity, and my enemies are living; I am dismayed because of my sin, but they are become strong. I do not, however, deny that he regards the miseries to which he was subjected as proceeding from his sins. In this respect, the godly differ from the wicked, that, being admonished of their transgression by adversity, they humbly sit themselves before the judgment-seat of God. Accordingly, judging of the cause from the effects, he takes into account these two things: First, That thus overwhelmed and afflicted, he is lying under a heavy load of miseries; and, secondly, That all these evils are justly inflicted as chastisements for sin.
So what is the takeaway of verse 18, confession of sin is necessary but one should not wait until we are in afflictions and chastisements the tokens of God’s wrath against sin to do so. We should be more like the Psalmist in Ps. 32 and confess so we can rejoice in the Lord’s unmeasurable Grace and Mercy.