Sin has consequences.
Psalm 38 is a petition of David during a time of painful and isolating illness. Though most illness is a result of simply living in a fallen world, David attributes this sickness to his own sinful choices. This psalm is his prayer of confession and a petition for relief.
What does David’s prayer tell us about sin’s consequences?
Sin causes pain.
As a result of his sin, David experienced both physical and emotional pain.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
my bones have no soundness because of my sin. (v. 3)
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
I groan in anguish of heart. (v. 8)
David’s guilt became a physical and emotional burden. This pain drove him to pray and acknowledge his sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear. (v. 4)
Only God can lift the burden of sin.
Sin separates us from others.
My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;
my neighbors stay far away. (v. 11)
Sin can cause even our friends to avoid us. This isolation only increases the painful consequences of sin. David’s friends, companions, and neighbors avoided him while he suffered sin’s consequences.
Sin makes us vulnerable to enemy attack.
Those who seek my life set their traps,
those who would harm me talk of my ruin;
all day long they plot deception. (v. 12)
Sin shows the enemy our weakness. Attacks intensify when weakness is detected. David’s enemies took advantage of his illness and plotted against him.
Sin shows us our need for a Savior.
When David realized that sin was the source of his suffering, he turned to God, confident that God would hear his prayer.
I wait for you, O LORD;
you will answer, O Lord my God. (v.15)
David confessed his sin to God; he did not try to excuse his sin or cover it up.
I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin. (v. 18)
David’s petition ends with a plea for God’s presence and help. David acknowledges that only God can save him.
O LORD, do not forsake me;
be not far from me, O my God.
Come quickly to help me,
O Lord my Savior. (v. 21-22)
Our sin may not result in physical illness as David’s did. But all sin causes pain, separation, and vulnerability. So when we realize we have sinned, we can do as David did. We can confess our sin, recognize our need for a Savior, and call on Him for help.
Father, I have sinned and suffered the painful consequences of my sin. My sin separates me from You and from others. I confess my sin to You, agreeing with You that what I have done is wrong. You are the only one who can lift the burden of sin. Forgive me for my sin. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.