Psalm 32 is widely credited as being St. Augustine's favorite. Its themes of guilt, acknowledgement and forgiveness play well into Augustine's theology of God's grace. A theology of grace that extends to us as Lutherans as well: we are good at confession and absolution.
However, in our focus on confession and absolution we sometimes forget why we must confess. Too often we make it about a parent who is watching over us, waiting for us to finally admit what we have done wrong to prove them right about our sin.
Instead, confession is important because, as the Psalmist points out, when we don't confess we suffer. Our silence and hiding of our sin does no one more harm than ourselves. It is our bodies that groan over the load. God does not need our confession for Godself; God wants our confession for our own sake. As always, God is giving, forgiving, calling.
Gracious God, inspire us again by your Holy Spirit to lives of confession. In recognizing our failings set us free to serve you. Help us to understand the purpose of this confession is, as with all your gifts, for us. Amen.
Psalm 32 (NRSV)
1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. (Selah)
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Selah)
6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. (Selah)
8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.