Psalm Bible Study (Worshiping God)

Psalm 38, The Pain of Sin

I. The Pain of Sin

A. The weight of sin (38:1-4)

  1. David begins this psalm by requesting God to not discipline him in anger or wrath. Throughout this psalm we will see that David has committed sin (what sin we do not know) and is dealing with the pain of sin. The pain of the consequence of his sin is described as arrows piercing him.
  2. David describes the burden of sin as a weight that is upon him. He feels the heavy hand of the Lord upon him. If we have not totally seared our conscience then sinful activities leave us feeling the burden and guilt of our actions. We are disgusted with ourselves. Something feels “off” or not quite what it ought to be. Guilt weighs upon us like a sack of bricks.
  3. Verse 4 describes the guilt as overwhelming David. We are swept out to see and completely immerse in the guilt of our actions. David says his burden is too heavy to bear. Sin takes a terrible toll on our minds and our emotions. Many times the reason for our discouragement, anxiety, and anger is due to our own sinfulness overwhelming our lives.

B. The suffering of sin (38:5-8)

  1. Not only does sin take an emotional toll on us, but it also takes a physical toll on our lives. Notice all the physical suffering David is enduring because of his sin. Notice in verse 5 David clearly identifies this pain to be the result of his sinful folly. David is distressed and diseased with pain.
  2. David goes in mourning all day long. His back is filled with searing pain. There is no health in his body. He is feeble and utterly crushed. These descriptions of his pain from sin are very real. Sexual sins often bring about such emotional and physical havoc that we often choose to ignore. We do not think about what will happen if we go through with a particular sin.
  3. The movies show us the pleasure and joy of the affair. Rarely does anyone show all the ramifications for such sinful behavior. We do not think about what life will be like at home. We do not think about how the trust of the marriage and of the family is shattered. We do not think about the effect such actions will have on our children when they learn the truth. We do not think about how everything we have known with our partner will be turned upside down. As young adults, we do not think about the consequences of pregnancy in high school. We do not think about how our lives will be forever altered by diseases and illness from such activity. We do not consider the emotional scarring and damage that ensues from cheaply throwing our bodies around to whomever says they love us. Sin is devastating and we underestimate its destructive and corrupting effects in our lives.
  4. The Star Wars movies try to depict this physical toll of evil in a very exaggerated way with physical bodies of those who are on the “dark side” falling apart, requiring technology to remain alive. It is an extreme picture to draw the point of what happens with those who continually plunge their lives into evil.
  5. David says that his sin has brought anguish into his heart. We think that we will not be caught. We like to think that we will not pay for our sins. Somehow we will get away with what we have done and no one will ever know. But it is a lie. David is experiencing the devastating effects of sin as his heart is heavy with anguish. He is torn up with all that he must endure.

C. The sorrow of sin (38:9-14)

  1. All of this says nothing about the sorrow of sin. It is hard to describe the tremendous amount of sorrow that comes from sinful activity. Yet David tries to express his sorrow from his actions.
  2. David begins by expressing his sighing to God. Verses 9-10 seem to describe the emotional and spiritual sorrow he feels. David says he has laid completely laid himself out before God. To those who have a close relationship with God as David has, to be severed from God through sin is a sorrowful and painful experience in the soul.
  3. David’s sorrow continues in that all those around him avoid him. He is experiencing social sorrow as friends, companions, and neighbors stay away from him. Sin taints us. People know what we have done and do not want to be around us because of what we have done. The person paying for the consequences of sin is not popular. The single pregnant girl on the high school campus does not have friends flocking to her. The adulterer does not have company but falls into isolation for their evil.
  4. This is especially true in a local church that is obeying the Lord’s commands. At the knowledge of unrepentant sin, disciples must withdraw themselves with those who will not return to God in hopes of repentance. Sin severs us not only from God, but from those most important to us in our lives.
  5. In all of this, David says he is silenced. What else can be said? David has done wrong, deserving of punishment, and asks that he not be disciplined in the anger of the Lord. What else can we say about our sins? We cannot justify ourselves. We cannot excuse ourselves. We have done wrong and we are deserving of punishment. What should be our response to our sins?

II. The Response to Sin

A. “I wait for you, O Lord” (38:15-17)

  1. It is time to begin by submitting ourselves to the hand of God. We must stop ourselves and realize that we are under God’s control and God’s will, not our own. We also cannot expect our suffering to suddenly come to an end. We have put ourselves in a precarious position and are paying the consequences for what we have done.
  2. A time of testing. This is a time where our faith can be purified if we will allow it. Too often we just want to get out of what we have done. It is too late for that. But it is a chance for us to be molded by what has just happened.
  3. A time of learning. We ought to be able to learn from our actions. We need to see what caused us to fall so we can put up roadblocks to help keep us from going down that road again. We need to learn the consequences for our actions so they will be a deterrent for any future rebellion.
  4. A time of strengthening. If we allow our faith to be purified, we can be strengthened so that we will not fall into this sin again. We need to make ourselves more resolute to stand with God and against sin. Too often we just want to quit, give up, and move on. But we need to wait upon the Lord and learn from the experience.

B. “I confess my iniquity” (38:18-20)

  1. We must also respond to sin with confession of our actions. This is no time to try to cover up what we have done. Our presidents of the last 30 years should be negative examples of what happens when we try to cover things up. Concealing sin only make things worse.
  2. We need to confess our sins. We need to accept responsibility for what we have done, no longer blaming others for our problems. As we know, Adam and Eve from the very beginning perfected the art of passing excuses for sinful actions. We must come to God with our sin-stained hands because he knows what we have done. We are not going to get away with any sin. God sees the deeds of man on the earth.

C. I petition God to draw near (38:21-22)

  1. Instead of running from God, we must run to God. Adam and Eve exemplified the wrong actions by running away from the presence of God. But our sin has severed us from God and we need to return to God so he will return to us. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Return to Me,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 1:3).
  2. We have to return to God for him to return to us. If we turn our back on God, then all hope is lost and we are dead in our sins. We must show that we want to be near God. We must show that we love God by rededicating ourselves to keep his commands. When we return to God, he has promised to return to us.

Thoughts to go home

  1. Know the consequences of sin. We need to remember the guilt, suffering, sorrow, and pain we experience when we engage in sin. None of like it. None of us like the potential consequences for our actions. We need to stop risking sin and start committing ourselves to the Lord.
  2. Know how to respond to sin. When we do fall, let us be sure to learn the lessons from the temptation and from the fall. If we do not learn, we will likely fall again. It is our chance to become stronger so that Satan does not ensnare us again. Immediately confess our sins and draw near to God.
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