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22 Feb | I Confess my Iniquity

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

22 February • Ash Wednesday

Psalm 38:1-22

1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,

nor discipline me in your wrath!

2 For your arrows have sunk into me,

and your hand has come down on me.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh

because of your indignation;

there is no health in my bones

because of my sin.

4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;

like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

5 My wounds stink and fester

because of my foolishness,

6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;

all the day I go about mourning.

7 For my sides are filled with burning,

and there is no soundness in my flesh.

8 I am feeble and crushed;

I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you;

my sighing is not hidden from you.

10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,

and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,

and my nearest kin stand far off.

12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;

those who seek my hurt speak of ruin

and meditate treachery all day long.

13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,

like a mute man who does not open his mouth.

14 I have become like a man who does not hear,

and in whose mouth are no rebukes.

15 But for you, O LORD, do I wait;

it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,

who boast against me when my foot slips!”

17 For I am ready to fall,

and my pain is ever before me.

18 I confess my iniquity;

I am sorry for my sin.

19 But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty,

and many are those who hate me wrongfully.

20 Those who render me evil for good

accuse me because I follow after good.

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD!

O my God, be not far from me!

22 Make haste to help me,

O Lord, my salvation!



The Psalmist struggled to accept how his sin triggered the anger of God and rod of discipline. It was not just verbal rebukes, but the pain of emotional and physical torment. He was fully aware of the Father’s direct hand in the whole ordeal. The discipline of the Father affected every area of his life. The “compound suffering, complexity of troubles, multilayered and overwhelming effects of sin was allencompassing. There’s guilt and sickness, tormented conscience, bodily, mental, emotional, relational brokenness and psychological pain” (Keller).

How are we to understand this dimension of the Father’s discipline? What does it reveal about the Father? The Puritans’ grasp of this is insightful.

“God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance”. (Westminster Confession 11.5)

So the forgiveness of God is not in question when we fail. We still belong to God even when we fall and sin. What we are awakened to is the Father’s displeasure and disapproval towards our ungodly behaviour. The turning point in the Psalm are verses 17-18, “For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin”. It’s the confession of deep sorrow that God sees, even as we struggle with the pain of sin’s consequences.

The only reason we can rise unscathed as we face the Father’s displeasure is because Christ Himself took on the Father’s full displeasure and wrath of the Cross. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Gal 3:13). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).



Dear Father, thank You that even though I fall and fail, You continue to show Your faithful and unfailing love through Your Fatherly disciplines. Thank You that through Christ, I am freed from condemnation and restored to Your favour and pleasure, because Christ took the full measure of judgement for me.



Make confession and repentance as a daily habit of life.

Rev Dr Keith Lai

Emeritus Senior Pastor

Covenant Presbyterian Church

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