Conviction Leads to Confession (Psalm 38:1–2) - Radical

Conviction Leads to Confession (Psalm 38:1–2)

“O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.”
– Psalm 38:1–2

It’s really challenging just to pick one verse from this Psalm because there’s such a progression from beginning to end in it. So, let me read a few different verses, make just a couple of comments, and then lead us to pray according to Psalm 38 as a whole. So, here’s how it starts.

When God convicts our hearts of sin, we ought to confess it to others.

I’m jumping ahead to verse five, “My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness. I’m utterly bowed down and prostrate. All the day, I go about mourning.” So, just put these initial verses together, and you see that David here in this song is overwhelmed by his sin and foolishness, by his disobedience to God. And so, he gets down all the way to verse 18, and he says… All the way to verse 17.

A Picture of Conviction, Confession, and Contrition

And he says, “For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my inequity; I am sorry for my sin.” So, this is a powerful picture of conviction that leads to confession. He is so overwhelmed by his foolishness, his sin against God, in a way that leads him to confess that sin, “I confess my inequity. And with contrition, I am sorry for my sin.” So, see this progression.

A conviction that leads to confession and contrition. Not just, “Okay, I acknowledge I did something wrong,” but, “God, I’m so sorry that I’ve lived in foolishness, that I’ve made unwise decisions, that I’ve sinned against you.” And then he gets to the very end. And this is how the Psalm ends. Verse 21 and 22, “Do not forsake me, O Lord. O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.”

Do hear that? Flowing from conviction and confession and contrition, if we could just kind of keep the alliteration going here, but it’s here in the Psalm, verses 21 and 22. It’s a celebration of God’s grace and God’s mercy. He says, “Don’t forsake me, O God. Be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord.” And here’s the triumphant celebration of grace, “My salvation. You are my salvation from sin.”

Psalm 38:1–2 Shows Us How to Pray When We Sin

And in this Psalm, we see a pattern that should play out in our lives over and over and over again, as we sin. Obviously, we don’t want to sin. But when we sin, this is the pattern that should play out in our lives. And there should be constant examination of our hearts along these lines. So, we pray based on Psalm 38. O God, we pray for conviction of sin in our hearts.

Psalm 38:1–2: Asking God to Make Us Sensitive to Sin

I pray for the sin in my heart. I pray for the sin in the heart of every single person that’s listening right now. May we not let us overlook sin or be casual with sin. God, we pray that whenever we sin against you, there would be a heaviness of a heart. That we would realize how weighty and serious sin is before you, God. That we would not treat it lightly, any sin.

That We would not think, “Well, it was just small.” Relatively small things, according to whatever measurement that might be in our minds, or big things. Similarly, God, we pray that you would help us to experience right conviction of sin by your Holy Spirit, that leads to confession, leads to honesty before you.

God, we pray that even now, even now, you might convict us of sin in ways that lead us to specific confession of sin and contrition over it. Lord, help us to hate sin more and more and more in our lives. Lord, help us to feel sorrow for our sin in a way that then leads to celebration of your salvation. God, we praise you for salvation from our sin.

Praising God For Not Forsaking Us

God, we praise you that you do not forsake us. Instead, you forgive us. All glory be to your name, that you don’t forsake us. We deserve to be cast out from your presence, yet you welcome us in by the blood of Jesus covers over all our sins. Jesus, we praise you for paying the price for all our sin, for experiencing forsakenness on our behalf.

As we think about you on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” You were forsaken so that we could be forgiven. All glory be to your name. We praise you, O Lord, our salvation. Yes, we celebrate your grace and your mercy and your love in our lives. So, God, teach us to do all of these things rightly when we sin, which we pray that you would keep us from it.

That, God, when we sin, we pray that we would go through conviction and confession and contrition in ways that lead to a celebration of your grace and your mercy. We praise you for your salvation. Jesus, we pray all of this in your name, for you are our savior, forsaken so that we could be totally forgiven. We pray Psalm 38, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

View the 2021 McLean Bible Church Reading Plan.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!