06/19/16 Groaning

READING: Psalms 36-39

As a young believer, I quickly became a legalist who lived by rules and expected everyone else to live by the same rules. All matters were black and white to me, and I was certain I was always right. As a young pastor, I then learned how easy it was to secure “amens” from the congregation when I preached about somebody else’s sin. It’s amazing how much you can holler about sin as long as the sin is not yours!

I trust I’ve grown spiritually since those days. I think I’ve learned much more about the grace of God. I’m more aware today of the joy of serving God than I’ve ever been. At the same time, though, I’m becoming even more sensitive to my sin — in a way, I hope, that is healthier than it was years ago. Thus, David’s grief over his sin in today’s reading resonates with me: “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear . . . . I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin” (Psalm 38:4, 18). His sin took a heavy toll on his physical health, on his mental well-being, and on his relationships. Knowing he was guilty, he could say nothing to defend himself; all he could do was confess his wrong and plead for God’s forgiveness and help.  

David’s words do grab me, but I still wonder if I grieve my sin appropriately. The psalmist bore the weight of his wrong, and the burden and repercussions of his actions brought him down. He “groan[ed] in anguish of heart,” crushed under that weight (Psalm 38:8). He could only cry out, “Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God” (Psalm 38:21), knowing well that only the mercy of God allowed him to remain in fellowship with his Creator in the first place. 

I’m not sure I groan enough over my sin. My simple prayers for forgiveness that come from too little conviction and even less anguish somehow seem much different than what David experienced. 


  • Evaluate your response to these questions: Am I genuinely troubled by my sin? Do I anguish over it? Is my guilt almost too much to bear? Or is my prayer for forgiveness almost habit, with too little groaning?      
  • Pray David’s prayer in Psalm 38:22 (see below). 

PRAYER: “Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior.”